CAIRO - A leading American Muslim advocacy group has applauded the Florida Senate decision to drop a controversial anti-Islam bill that Muslim, Jewish and civil rights leaders criticized as "unconstitutional and unnecessary."
"We applaud the Florida Senate for dropping this unconstitutional and unnecessary legislation, the sole purpose of which is to marginalize Muslims and demonize Islam," Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
"We thank all those elected officials who voted for the Constitution by voting against this un-American bill."
Senate President Don Gaetz on Friday declared the bill (HB 351) resolved after its sponsor decided not to ask for the unanimous vote required to move the bill forward.
On Thursday, the bill (SB 58) failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to bring it to the Senate floor and the vote was 25-14, one vote short.
The House approved the legislation on a 79-39 vote last month.
CAIR also thanked the coalition of groups in Florida that lobbied elected officials to reject the unconstitutional legislation.
"Without the tireless efforts of many individuals and organizations, this discriminatory bill would have become law in Florida," said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Hassan Shibly.
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation like SB 58, noting that it is "duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law."
Initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at 'Shari`ah law,' are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence," it added.
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.