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Entries in Sharia Law (3)

Wednesday
Jan112012

Oklahoma’s Ban on Sharia Law Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

Comstock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- A federal appeals court Wednesday blocked a measure that would’ve made Oklahoma the first state in the nation to ban the Sharia law in its court system.

The court ruled in favor of Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma, who filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma election board on the grounds that the voter-approved constitutional amendment violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbidding the government from favoring one religion over another.

The amendment specifically stated that “it forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.”

Sharia law is broadly defined as a body of law based on Islam and its central religious text, the Quran.

“This is an important reminder that the Constitution is the last line of defense against a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry in our society, and we are pleased that the appeals court recognized that fact,” Awad said in a statement. “We are also hopeful that this decision serves as a reminder to politicians wishing to score political points through fear-mongering and bigotry.”

Wednesday’s ruling upheld a decision by the lower court striking down the Save Our State amendment, which would have also forbidden judges from using international laws as a basis for decisions.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the federal district court did not abuse discretion by barring the amendment. “Because Mr. Awad has at least one justiciable claim and because the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the preliminary injunction, we affirm,” Wednesday’s findings by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stated.

Its proponents Wednesday vowed to fight the injunction. The ballot measure passed by a 70-percent margin in November, 2010, even though sponsors of the measure produced no evidence that Sharia law is actually being used in the courts. Its proponents said that even though it was not a problem in Oklahoma, they were attempting to prevent it from becoming one.

But opponents of the ban said it is an unconstitutional scare tactic aimed at discriminating against Muslims. They said it will have a broad impact in the areas of family law that come before the courts and could prove to have national implications. CAIR immediately challenged the measure.

Sharia law has become a hot-button issue in the United States, particularly among conservatives who want similar laws to be imposed across the country.

Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich once advocated imposing such a law at the federal level, saying in a September 2010 speech, “We should have a federal law that says under no circumstance, in any jurisdiction in the United States, will Sharia be used in any court to apply to any judgment.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who dropped out of the race last week after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses, signed a conservative pledge that vowed to fight the Sharia law, among other things, such as porn.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Denver Federal Appeals Court to Hear Arguments on Sharia Law Use

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- A federal appeals court in Denver is poised to hear arguments Monday regarding the use of Sharia law in state court.

A panel of judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will eventually decide whether a lower court judge was correct in blocking a 2010 ballot initiative forbidding Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic laws in their decisions.

Sharia law is broadly defined as a body of law based on Islam and its central religious text, the Quran.

The ballot measure passed by a 70 percent margin but was immediately challenged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).  The group argued the measure violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbidding the government from favoring one religion over another.

U.S District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange blocked the measure in November of 2010, ruling that any harm that would result from a delay in certifying the election results is “minimized” because the defendants were “not aware of any situation where Sharia Law has been applied in an Oklahoma court.”  Judge Miles-LaGrange said that the challengers were likely to succeed on the merits of their case going forward.

In court documents defending the constitutionality of the measure, lawyers for the Oklahoma Attorney General said its “principle purpose” was to ban the Oklahoma courts from looking at the “precepts of other nations or cultures.”

They argue in court papers that the measure does not single out Sharia law.

“The measure bans, equally, all laws from other nations or cultures, including, but not limited to international law and Sharia law,” according to the court papers.

But opponents of the measure say it “stigmatizes Islam.”

In court briefs, lawyers for CAIR, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), write, “The State of Oklahoma makes no attempt to defend the practice of singling out one religious faith for official condemnation and disability."

“The measure tramples the free exercise rights of a disfavored minority faith and constrains the ability” of Muslims in Oklahoma to “execute valid wills, assert religious liberty claims under the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, and enjoy equal access to the state judicial system,” they argue.

They point out that Sharia Law is not outlined in any single document but is subject to “individual and communal” interpretations that differ across denominations among Muslims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

Federal Judge Bars Oklahoma Ballot Initiative on Sharia Law

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal judge in Oklahoma on Monday barred the implementation of a ballot initiative, passed by 70 percent of voters in Oklahoma, that would have forbidden state courts from considering Sharia Law in their decisions.

"This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights," Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange wrote. "Throughout the course of our country's history, the will of the 'majority' has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals," she wrote.

The controversial initiative was passed even though its supporters acknowledged they had no evidence that the state's courts were considering Sharia -- the body of law based on Islam and the Koran -- in their decisions.

The initiative was immediately challenged by Muneer Awad, Oklahoma executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who filed suit claiming the measure violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids the government from giving preference to one religion over another.

Opponents of the initiative say it is an unconstitutional scare tactic aimed at discriminating against Muslims. They say it will have a broad impact in the areas of family law that come before the courts and could prove to have national implications.

"The Court finds that plaintiff has shown that he will suffer an injury in fact, specifically, an invasion of his First Amendment rights which is concrete, particularized and imminent." Judge Miles-LaGrange wrote in granting Awad's request for a preliminary injunction. "The actual language of the amendment reasonably...may be viewed as specifically singling out Sharia Law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff's faith."

State Senator Rex Conrad, who penned the legislation, told the Los Angeles Times, "Oklahoma does not have that problem yet...but why wait until it's in the courts?"

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio