Sharia (Islamic) Law Coming to a State Near You?
This week, Saudi authorities executed a woman whom they convicted of “sorcery.” In an action which hearkens back to the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600’s in Massachusetts, the unnamed woman was convicted by the religious police of claiming to be able to cure ill people of various maladies for $800. I would have thought that 400 years of progress would have led to a little more enlightenment about crime and punishment.
Think this is just some far-fetched ruling of an Islamist state like not punishing “honor” killings, cutting off the right hand of thieves, and stoning adulteresses to death? Think again. Could Sharia law, that is, law guided by Islamic principles, be coming to a state appellate court near you? It already has.
The Center for Security Policy issued a report in May, 2011 entitled “Sharia Law and American Courts.” The study found that cases involving Sharia law were heard in appellate courts in 23 states. After evaluating these cases, the report’s authors stated, “Our findings suggest that Shariah law has entered into state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy.”
The use of Sharia law has grave implications for our understanding of due process and of a judiciary untainted by a certain set of religious beliefs. Sharia law also has extremely troubling implications for women in this country. Under Islamic law, a woman can legally pursue a rape charge against a perpetrator only if there are four witnesses or the suspect confesses. Essentially, this portion of the law totally negates the woman’s own testimony and allows men to rape at will.
Sharia law also permits so-called honor killings, which have also already been perpetrated here in the United States. Noor Almeleki was killed by her father in Phoenix is 2009 for being “too Americanized.” He ran her and her boyfriend’s mother over with his taxi. American courts convicted him and held him accountable under our understanding of justice. Honor killings go unprosecuted throughout Islamic countries. Clearly this is absurd in the Western understanding of justice. Most of us also believe that cutting off a thief’s hand is a draconian punishment, leaving them more apt to steal because it would be harder for them to make a living.
Some legislators have become so concerned about the specter of Sharia law in view of the rising Muslim population in the United States that they have banned its use all together. Twenty-six states have examined the issue. Legislators in Tennessee would make it a crime to practice Sharia law in American courts. Oklahoma passed a ballot initiative banning Sharia law from their courts. US District Judge Vickie Miles-Legrange has suspended that law until she can rule on arguments from both sides.
Now just imagine if the Catholic Church in the United States sued the State of Oklahoma asking that canon (that is, church) law be recognized in our courts! ACLU would be on them like white on rice. What about on this issue? According to ACLU’s blog, “Prohibiting courts from considering Islamic law serves only one purpose: to bar Muslims from having the same rights and access to the courts as any other individuals.” Seriously?
We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of tolerance for others. We cherish religious liberties. Those ideals are what make us who we are and they should never change. While many Christians feel that it is open season on them, with orders to remove cherished Judeo-Christian religious symbols from any connection to government, some believe that political correctness has gone too far in allowing this incursion of Islam into American public life. We can’t have a Nativity scene in front of City Hall, but we do allow consideration of Islamic law in our courts. Where does political correctness end? Where is the National Organization for Women in speaking out against Sharia law making its presence known in American courts?
That’s what I think. I’d value hearing about your thoughts, as well.
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