Last year, radical right-wing politicians in Oklahoma passed the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which ordered “the placement of a monument displaying and honoring the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol.” The bill authors noted that “the Ten Commandments found in the Bible, Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, are an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma.”
As ThinkProgress noted, many of these same legislators voted to put a proposal on this week’s ballot, the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment, that bans Sharia from being considered in Oklahoma courts. The ballot states that Oklahoma courts must “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and forbids them from “considering or using international law” and “from considering or using Sharia Law.” The measure passed with 70 percent of the vote.
As a law professor noted to CNN, however, the religious zealotry of these lawmakers may now be in serious self-conflict:
Rick Tepker, the first member of the University of Oklahoma School of Law faculty to try a case before the U.S. Supreme Court…called the passage of the measure “a mess” with implications unknown until a case that challenges it arises.
“Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don’t cry,” he said. “I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren’t going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin.”
The complicated “mess” caused by the Sharia ban is also affecting Oklahoma Muslims, who say that, though they obviously never considered seeking sharia law remedies, the constitutional amendment makes them feel alienated. “It’s really brought the Muslim-haters out,” said Allison Moore, a Muslim activist in Tulsa. Sheryl Siddiqui, a spokeswoman for the Edmond-based Islamic Council of Oklahoma, said her group tries outreach and education about Islam, though clearly with frustrating results. “Muslims in Oklahoma do a phenomenal amount of outreach,” she said. “It’s not on us anymore. There are people out there who still believe Obama is a Muslim.”
A lawsuit has also been filed against the amendment, which charges it transforms Oklahoma’s Constitution into “an enduring condemnation” of Islam by singling it out for special restrictions. “We have a handful of politicians who have pushed an amendment onto our state ballot and then conducted a well-planned and well-funded campaign of misinformation and fear,” said Muneer Awad, who filed the suit and is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma.