02 February 2012
Philadelphia City Council members Curtis Jones, Jr. and Maria Quinones Sanchez have introduced Resolution 120031, which sends an overnight package straight to the Pennsylvania state capitol (Harrisburg) containing urging the state legislature to reject the "Anti-Sharia" bill being considered there.
The City Council Resolution, as yet unnamed, â€œUrg[es] the Pennsylvania General Assembly to reject House Bill 2029 as unnecessary and inconsistent with our core constitutional principlesâ€¦affirming that the Council of the City of Philadelphia welcomes all religious beliefs, traditions and heritages.â€
It is the Anti-Sharia bill that was never meant to be. The legislator who drafted it claims she never even mentioned Sharia Law. Introduced by Representative Rosemarie Swanger (R-Lebanon), the bill bans all cases of foreign law infused in Pennsylvania courts. It turns out that Muslim and Jewish law are often used in court as it regards divorce and personal matters, but there is no evidence of foreign law being used to define actual court cases in Pennsylvania.
Rep. Swanger told us her intent had nothing to do with a threat of Sharia Law, even though that'll be covered implicitly by the bill. She claims she was set up. Swanger's intent was represented in a memo that was attributed to her before the bill was introduced, which read, "America has unique laws of liberty which do not exist in foreign legal systems, particularly Sharia Law.â€ And: â€œWe are a nation of laws. Unfortunately, increasingly, foreign laws and legal doctrines -- including and especially Sharia Law -- are finding their way into U.S. court cases."
However, Rep. Swanger claims the references to Sharia were inserted by someone else.
"I said nothing about it when I sent it over there. And when it came back, it was rife with references to Sharia Law," Swanger told PW. "I still didn't find out who wrote it but I am pretty livid about that. That was not my intention. As soon as I found out what happened I pulled it, and we sent out a corrected oneâ€¦ Apparently somebody who's not my friend sent it out and made it public because it is not what should have gone out. I want to get to the bottom of it."
The City of Philadelphia still disagrees with the bill, even with only references to "foreign" law. In the resolution that the City Council is expected to pass unanymously, it reads:
RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That the City of Philadelphia welcomes all religious beliefs, traditions and heritages, and that this body has full confidence in the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state of Pennsylvania and does not entertain any concern that any foreign or religious law offers a threat to the law of the land.
Anti-Sharia laws have been passed in several states, often by voter referendum. Most recently, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declared an Oklahoma ban on Sharia Law unconstitutional. The Oklahoma law specifically mentions "Sharia", while the Pennsylvania law does not.
Moein Khawaja, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, told PW of the ban, "What we have in Pennsylvania is version 2.0., which is an attempt to refine it a little bit. It doesn't mention Sharia or Islam
or our faith. But that doesn't matter because we have a lot of evidence of the legislative intentâ€¦from the numerous public statements given by Rep. Swanger."
Source: Randy LoBasso, "Philadelphia City Council Introduces Resolution Denouncing Anti-Foreign (Sharia) Law Bill" Philly Now
February 1, 2012