Media Link Roundup | April 21, 2011

1) American actor and martial artist, Chuck Norris, is writing a three-part series for World Net Daily, on the threat of Islamic law. His first article, Holy Week, Holy Shariah, defines Shari’a, briefly discusses the use of Islamic law in Muslim-majority countries and lists examples on how it is already enabled in the United Sates, arguing:

In the end, it seems to me we have a choice to believe that Shariah law is, or is not, a pro-Islamic system of civic, religious, moral and social laws, which is being used to run other countries and governments but is not being (nor ever will be) invoked to run ours, based upon the belief that our constitutional republic and Bill of Rights is inferior.

2) An “anti-Shari’a” bill that would limit the use of foreign law in court has passed in the Missouri House. The bill is causing debate within the state, with Democrats arguing that the bill is a time and money-waster that would interfere with companies engaged in business overseas, and Republicans arguing that it is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of Missourians.

3)Several hundred Muslims and supporters showed up at the Nashville, Tennessee State Legislature to voice their opposition to an “anti-Shari’a law” bill and to hear testimony from bill supporters saying the bill would help Tennessee law enforcement stop terrorist plots.

4) An “anti-Shari’a” bill in Oklahoma will not be heard by a Senate committee. The Oklahoman reported that the controversial bill to prohibit foreign laws from being enforced in the courts passed the state House of Representatives but then languished in the Senate and is considered dead for this year.

5) In his special op-ed for CNN, Dean Obeidallah, an Arab-American comedian asks Why do Republicans love Sharia law? Obeidallah argues that Muslims in America are not the ones promoting the use of Islamic law and believes that Republicans have created a “sharia monster” for their own purposes:

If religious law — regardless if it is Muslim, Jewish or Christian — does not comport with the principles of U.S. law, our courts will not follow it. It’s that simple. This is a well-established principle of our American legal system — one that I would have hoped the Republican politicians would have been known.

6) The Herald Online reports that a group of senators spent more than an hour discussing the pros and cons of a bill that would prevent the enforcement of foreign law in South Carolina, including Islamic law (discussed as “Shari’a law”). The bill was introduced in January, with supporters saying the Legislature needs to clarify that foreign laws and religious or cultural traditions cannot trump U.S. laws.

7) Salon has introduced an online list of anti-Muslim pronouncements made by Republican presidential hopefuls — which includes statements made regarding bans on the construction of mosques to promoting bans on Islamic  law.

8 ) A Michigan local news source has collected photos around the city of Dearborn to prove that it is not an Islamic theocracy — discovering, “no conflict between the city’s Muslim population and secular life, no attempt to impose Islam on non-believers and no evidence of an official policy of Islamic law.” The photo gallery is available here.

Dearborn’s Mayor has also penned an open letter to Rev. Terry Jones, who plans to protest Islamic law and radical Islam outside Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America this Friday.

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Media Link Roundup | April 14, 2011

1) FOX news analyst and former White House advisor Dick Morris believes that Shari’a law is a threat to the United States government and notes that many judges in America are ruling in favor of it. He is quoted as saying, “The goal of international terrorism is the imposition of sharia law.”

2) The Huffington Post features the article,  Sharia Law Threat: Right-Wing Boogeyman by journalist and blogger Andrew Reinbach, who argues:

Meanwhile, the so-called examples of how Sharia Law is already being used in American courts are frauds. Take a look at them and you find out what they’re talking about are arbitrations — not trials under civil or criminal law. And two parties in an arbitration can agree to be bound by Star Fleet regulations without crossing the Constitution.

3) Editor Salim Mukwakki writes about Islamophobia, Oklahoma and Shari’a law in his opinion piece: The Muslim Storm: Fear mongers claim Sharia law as next threat to the United States.

4) Prospective Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum agrees with conservative radio host Glenn Beck that Islamic extremists are conspiring with leftists to establish a Middle Eastern caliphate and global Shari’a.

5) Texas State Rep. Leo Berman has proposed an amendment to the Texas state constitution that would forbid courts from enforcing, considering, or applying any religious or cultural law. He argues that the amendment is necessary because Islamic law is taking hold in Dearborn, Michigan and could soon spread to the rest of the United States.

6) An anti-terror group is preparing to protest outside the annual Orange County Human Relations Commission dinner if the group doesn’t withdraw an award it plans to present to a local imam. Protest organizers claim that Imam Muzammil Siddiqi has ties to terrorist organizations and supports repressive aspects of Shari’a law.

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Editor’s Pick: Upcoming Events

Shuruq 2011: Perspectives on Islamic Law

Tonight, NYU School of Law hosts Barnard Professor Najam Haider and attorney Abed Awad for a discussion of shari’a and its relevance to modern society.

 

Shariah Watch: A View From The Inside

If you’re in the Los Angeles area this Thursday, stop by UCLA to check out the third discussion in a series about Shari’a and its role and impact in the West, featuring islawmix scholar and UCLA Professor of Law Khaled Abou El Fadl, moderated by Professor Asli Bali.

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Media Link Roundup | April 7, 2011

1) Feisal Abdul Rauf, sponsor of the Cordoba Initiative, writes about Shari’a law in a Washington Post article, Five Myths about Muslims in America — saying, “Muslims already practice sharia in the United States when they worship freely and follow U.S. laws.”

2) Editor David Rossman offers his opinion that banning Shari’a law is fearmongering and unconstitutional. Rossman specifies House Joint Resolution 31, which proposes to prohibit Missouri courts from using Sharia or international law, as being unnecessary and possibly a federally unconstitutional amendment to Missouri’s constitution.

3) The Middle East Online reports that Shari’a Law is already in America. In this satire regarding the recent movement to ban Shari’a law in 13 States, Hesham A. Hassaballa chronicles a typical day in the life of an American Muslim:

The staff at the office are having a catered lunch that day — pizza — and “Muhammad” goes for the veggie pizza because all the other pizzas contain pork [Sharia]. After finishing his pizza, he prays the Noon prayer at his desk [Sharia] and then gets back to work on his projects [Sharia]. He calls home to check on his wife, who was not feeling very well that day [Sharia], and prays that she feels better [Sharia] and tells her he loves her very much [Sharia].

4) Gregory R. Ball, a Putnam County, NY Republican has scheduled a daylong hearing for April 8 on terrorism preparedness in New York City. The New York Times reports that Mr. Ball plans to take testimony on the threat from radical Islam —  drawing criticism from Muslim and interfaith groups who are call the hearing anti-Muslim.

Among the witnesses whose scheduled testimony has raised objections is Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born American who is president of a group called Former Muslims United. Mr. Ball said Ms. Darwish would testify about Shariah law and “being taught to hate Israelis and Americans” in Islamic schools she attended in Egypt.

5) From the Minnesota Independent: Potential presidential contender Herman Cain told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that he wouldn’t allow Muslims to serve in his administration and that, because Rep. Keith Ellison took his oath of office on the Qur’an instead of the Bible, he supports Sharia law above the Constitution. Cain, a Republican, said that American law is based on the Bible.

6) The National, an English-language publication in the United Arab Emirates, reports that a senior judge has responded to criticisms made by Amnesty International, regarding death sentences imposed under Shari’a law. Last week, Amnesty’s report on world-wide capital punishments in 2010, identified that 28 people were sentenced to death in the Emirates last year. A judge at the Federal Supreme Court argues that under Article 1 of the penal code, certain offences including murder, sex outside of wedlock, drugs, theft and alcohol must be tried under Sharia — and that murder and drug trafficking offences can bring the death penalty.

7) David Weigel goes behind the scenes on Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern’s Senate Bill, HR 1552, which was drafted specifically to remove references to Shari’a law and ban “any law, rule, legal code or system” not rooted in the Constitution of Oklahoma or the United States.

8) Alaska Republican Rep. Carl Gatto called Pamela Geller, an anti-Muslim blogger, to testify as an expert witness on Islam and Shari’a in the House Judiciary Committee. According to Anchorage Daily News, “Gatto’s proposal, House Bill 88, says Alaska courts can’t apply foreign law if it would violate an individual’s rights guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States or the state of Alaska.” Gatto is quoted as saying:

I’m more concerned about cultures that are vastly different from European immigrants, who come here and prefer to maintain their specific laws from their previous countries, which are in violent conflict with American law.

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Editor’s Picks

Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives’ Skewed Interpretation Needs Debunking

Matthew Duss and Wajahat Ali have published a report for the Center of American Progress aimed at disproving current trends in the popular understanding of law in Islam. It takes a look at arguments from conservative pundits and analysts who say that extremists are using Shari’a to transform the United States into an Islamic State.

This trend, supported by an earlier report from the Centre for Security Policy (CSP), is so pervasive that Republicans in 13 states are now considering the adoption of legislation forbidding Shari’a. But both Duss and Ali argue that:

The [CSP] authors, in attempting to show that Sharia is a threat, construct a static, a historical, and unscholarly interpretation of Sharia that is divorced from traditional understandings and commentaries of the source texts.

The “Sharia threat” argument is based on an extreme type of scripturalism where one pulls out verses from a sacred text and argues that believers will behave according to that text. But this argument ignores how believers themselves understand and interpret that text over time. […]

In reality, Sharia is personal religious law and moral guidance for the vast majority of Muslims. Muslim scholars historically agree on certain core values of Sharia, which are theological and ethical and not political. Moreover, these core values are in harmony with the core values at the heart of America.

 

In Egypt’s Democracy, Room for Islam

Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt, has an op-ed in the New York Times discussing the role that religion can have in Egypt’s new political life. In light of the recent referendum approving constitutional amendments, Gomaa focuses in on Article 2 of the constitution — which includes legislating Islam as the state religion and shari’a as the principal source of legislation — and argues that there is no conflict between this and Article 7 of Egypt’s interim constitution, which guarantees equal citizenship before the law regardless of religion, race or creed.

While Article 2 was not a focus of debate during the referendum, perhaps he is suggesting that it should become an issue for the forthcoming, more comprehensive constitutional reforms:

Similarly, long-suppressed Islamist groups can no longer be excluded from political life. All Egyptians have the right to participate in the creation of a new Egypt, provided that they respect the basic tenets of religious freedom and the equality of all citizens. To protect our democracy, we must be vigilant against any party whose platform or political rhetoric threatens to incite sectarianism, a prohibition that is enshrined in law and in the Constitution. […]

Indeed, democracy will put Islamist movements to the test; they must now put forward programs and a political message that appeal to the Egyptian mainstream. Any drift toward radicalism will not only run contrary to the law, but will also guarantee their political marginalization.

 

Noah Feldman in Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door

CNN has aired a short documentary called, “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door.” This documentary covers the recent Islamic Center of Murfreesboro controversy – in which the Muslim community received overwhelming opposition, including a lawsuit, to their county approval to build a new 53,000 square foot Islamic center.

At the 32:00 minute-mark, Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University, defines shari’a law and discusses its role in America.

The program can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRlqz3e9O…]

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Media Link Roundup | March 31, 2011

1) According to UPI.com, Tennessee legislators are amending an anti-terrorism bill to remove constitutionally questionable language targeting Muslim sharia law – rewriting it to delete all references to Islam after its constitutionality was questioned.

John Esposito and Sheila Lalwani write for the Guardian discussing how both the UK and Germany have sanctioned the use of Shari’a law and that the Tennessee bill is the latest example of an irrational fear of Islam.

2) A spokesperson for the former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, has released a statement saying that Pawlenty did not encourage a sharia-compliant mortgage loan program, and in fact, shut it down once he learned the program existed.

This statement comes in response to an American Prospect story published last Friday, in which the Republican candidate hopeful is reported to have pushed to increase minority homeownership, by encouraging companies to offer “culturally sensitive” financing programs that would help Muslims avoid paying interest on their mortgage loans.

3) Over the weekend, conservative activist Herman Cain announced that he will not appoint Muslims to his cabinet if elected, saying:

I will not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt, this attempt, to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government.

In January 2011, Cain announced he had formed an exploratory committee for a potential candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

4) Bill O’Reilly interviews Wafa Sultan, author and Islamic critic, regarding the rape of Libyan postgraduate law student, Eman al-Obeidi. During the interview, Sultan argues that Islamic religious sources encourages violence against women and that Sharia’ requires rape victims to produce four male witnesses.

5) Tampa-bay.com reports on a judicial opinion offered by a Florida judge, after his ruling that Islamic law would be used to decide an arbitration issue in a lawsuit against the Islamic Education Center of Tampa. While proceedings are currently stayed, circuit Judge Richard Nielsen released his opinion last week, explaining:

The court has concluded that as to the question of enforceability of the arbitrator’s award the case should proceed under ecclesiastical Islamic law.”

6) This weekend, CNN aired a short documentary called, “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door,” on the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro controversy – in which the Muslim community received overwhelming opposition, including a lawsuit, to their county approval to build a new 53,000 square foot Islamic center.

At the 32:00 minute-mark, the program discusses Shari’a law in America and includes an explanation of sharia by Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University. Watch the entire program here:

CNN: Unwelcome – The Muslims Next Door

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