CAIRO - A new bill aiming to ban Islamic Shari`ah in courts in the upper-south American state of Kentucky is inviting the ire of American Muslims, amid warnings that the legislation stigmatizes the Islamic faith.
They don't mention Shari`ah or Islam except at the hearings, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, told The Kentucky Enquirer.
For the one in Tennessee, the sponsor of the bill gave an hour long presentation about the bill and focused on Islam.
They said this clearly has not a thing to do with any faith or religion, and then spent the next hour slamming Islam, he said.
Labeled Bill Resolution 66, the bill was introduced by Kentucky Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg, to ban the use of foreign laws in US courts.
A court, arbitrator, administrative agency or other adjudicative body or authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States, the bill states.
Rep. King said she doesn't know of specific cases where foreign law has been used, but said she wants to put in the protection.
It is to ensure US citizens are protected by US and Kentucky laws, King said.
The proposed legislation is just one of more than 20 similar bills that have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide in the past year.
Over the past few years, lawmakers in at least two dozen states have introduced proposals to forbid local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes, including Tennessee, Virginia, Kansas and Pennsylvania.
The statutes have been enacted in three states so far.
Earlier this January, 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.
Stigmatization The Republican representative has argued that the bill does not target a specific religion or culture.
We don't need to be citing foreign laws to determine cases in the United States that would undermine our constitution and our laws, King said.
She insisted that she is not singling out any foreign law or culture but addressing the concerns that a constituent brought to her.
However, Hooper, the CAIR spokesman, said references to foreign law have become common in the past two years after a federal court issued an injunction against the Shari`ah bill in Oklahoma.
Since then, the foreign law bills don't mention Shari`ah law, Hooper said.
The Muslim spokesman said that these bills give a false impression that Muslims are trying to impose such laws in America.
The bill's intent is to stigmatize Islam, which becomes evident when you probe or question the sponsors on why they introduce such bizarre bills, Hooper said.
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.