2:15 PM, Aug. 15, 2011
DETROIT FREE PRESS
A bill that would ban sharia and other laws seen as foreign has been introduced in the state House, making Michigan the latest state in the country to consider legislation aimed at banning Islamic law.
The bill, introduced in June by State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, would “limit the application and enforcement …of foreign laws that would impair constitutional rights.”
On Tuesday, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who is Muslim, plans to hold a news conference criticizing the bill. She said that the bill and others like it across the U.S. could restrict for Muslims, Catholics and Jews “certain rights and promote bigotry and xenophobia.”
Like others introduced across the U.S., the bill does not mentionsharia specifically, but was introduced to prevent government use of Islamic law, known as sharia, say Muslim advocates. A Michigan-based group, the American Public Policy Alliance, has crafted language that legislators use to craft bills to ban sharia.
The Michigan bill is being sponsored by 41 other state representatives and has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. More than 20 other states in the U.S. have considered legislation that would ban sharia or foreign laws.
Several conservative organizations and Christian groups have made fighting sharia a priority over the past couple of years. Last year, Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Dearborn was under sharia, a claim dismissed as ridiculous by city officials. Politicians in Nevada and Texas have made similar allegations about Dearborn.
Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is urging Michiganders to contact their state legislators to oppose the bill.
“Fear mongering about sharia has made Michigan a focal point of a well-coordinated anti-Muslim campaign,” Walid said. “Michigan, especially Dearborn, has been falsely accused of having its government controlled by sharia.”
Earlier this year, Muslim-Americans leaders asked legislators in Michigan not to pass such a bill, Walid said.
If the bill is passed, it “will be overturned in a court as being unconstitutional,” Walid said, but “we want this bill stopped in its tracks beforehand.”