CAIRO - Kansas Senate passed on Friday, May 11, an anti-shari`ah bill that would restrict state courts from considering foreign laws despite facing fierce criticism as being intolerant for targeting the American Muslim minority, The Sacramento Bee reported.
This is one where I made some mistakes; the first one was signing the conference report, Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said.
I believe this bill is unconstitutional (and) intolerant, Owens added, apologizing for putting the Senate in position of having to vote on the bill.
The bill dubbed "American law for American courts" passed the senate on Friday, preventing any court in the state from making a ruling based on foreign or religious laws.
The measure was spearheaded by Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, who, along with Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, has spoken publicly about the need to protect Kansans from Islamic law, or Shari`ah.
"I feel like this is going to help women know the rights they have in America," Mast said Friday, The Capital-Journal reported.
"When the word gets out, women will come into courts in Kansas and the US and seek equal protection."
The bill, House substitute for Senate bill 79, passed 33-4. It already had passed the House and will now go to the governor.
As Sen. Owens attacked the bill, proponents fired back that the bill protects the constitutions of Kansas and the United States.
They also claimed that the bill would prevent the use of foreign law to take away fundamental rights that are enjoyed in American courts.
I look back at those remarks (by opponents) and I almost think they're outrageous, said Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover.
Not only have we had a stretch of the truth, we've had a stretch of the rules. We don't have any intolerance in this bill. Nobody's stripped of their freedom of religion. This is talking about the law, American law, American courts.
The new proposed bill also drew fire from opponents who rejected the unconstitutional' legislation as targeting Islamic principles, or "Shari`ah."
I think this bill will set Kansas out as a place not to go if you believe any other way than particularly a very small religious-right perspective â¦ This country is based on freedom, Senator Owens said.
And it isn't You can only be free if you think like me.'
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the National Conference of State Legislatures also attacked anti-Shari`ah proposals as demonizing Muslims.
"It is an effort to demonize Islam," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based council.
"As Muslims are seen participating in a positive way in society, that really irritates some people."
The leading civil rights group vowed to continue to monitor the legislator to ensure that no other anti-Muslim or anti-freedom bills are introduced.
Shari`ah has come under scrutiny recently in the US, with right-wing campaigners and politicians questioning its role and operating system.
Lawmakers in at least 30 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
Oklahoma voters approved a ballot initiative in 2010 that specifically mentioned Shari`ah law, but both a federal judge and a federal appeals court blocked it.
In Islam, Shari`ah governs all issues in Muslims' lives from daily prayers to fasting and from, marriage and inheritance 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.