MINNEAPOLIS - Facing a strong Muslim opposition, a Republican lawmaker has withdrawn plans for introducing a bill to ban Islamic Shari`ah in the mid-western state of Minnesota, a move that pleased the Muslim minority.
"It was never my intent to introduce legislation that was being targeted to any one group," Republican State Senator Dave Thompson said, CBS Minnesota reported on Monday, March 5.
The move followed a news conference held earlier by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) with faith leaders to challenge the bill, which risks to curb religious freedoms in the state.We are here today to send a clear message that intolerance and a restriction on religious freedom is not a Minnesota value, Munazza Humayun, civil rights coordinator for CAIR, said.
Humayun said the bill, S2281, was written using a template provided by David Yerushalmi, who is .
In addition, David Yerushalmi has made anti-women, anti-Jewish, anti-African American statements in the past and we are disappointed that a Minnesota legislator is sponsoring a bill, she said.
Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew, has a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam.He is the head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which on its now password-protected website offered a policy proposal that would make "adherence to Islam" punishable by 20 years in prison.
The bill was also criticized by Rabbi Amy Eilberg, who described it as a "fear-based legislation".
There is no, zero possibility that Shari`ah or Halakha or Catholic Canon law could be a serious threat to America." Happy Muslims
The bill withdrawal won plaudits from Minnesota Muslims, voicing hope that the move would put an end to repeated attempts to introduce anti-Shari`ah legislation in the US."We thank Senator Thompson for dropping this discriminatory bill, said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator Humayun.
[We] hope his responsible decision sends a message to all those elected officials in other states who are supporting similarly unconstitutional legislation,"
Humayun said Shari`ah requires Muslims to obey the law of the land, adding that the bill serves no purpose.
We challenge the proponents of this bill to cite just one example where anyone's rights have been adversely impacted by the application of foreign law in any Minnesota court or administrative body, she said.
In Islam, Shari`ah govern issues in Muslims' lives from daily prayers to fasting and from to inheritance and marital cases to financial disputes.
The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.
In US courts, judges can refer to Shari`ah law in Muslim litigation involving cases about divorce and custody proceedings or in commercial litigation.
Over the past few years, Republican lawmakers in at least 20 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
The statutes have been enacted in three states so far.
Last month, a US federal court upheld an injection on a proposed ban on Islamic Shari`ah in the state of Oklahoma, saying the drive was unconstitutional and discriminates against religion.