Florida mulls outlaw of Shariah, other foreign laws; critics say bill addresses made-up threat

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A measure to ban the use of foreign laws in domestic courtrooms is progressing in Florida’s statehouse, one of dozens of similar efforts across the country that critics call an unwarranted campaign driven by fear of Muslims.

Forty such bills are being pursued in 24 states, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a movement opponents call a response to a made-up threat of Shariah law, the Islamic legal code that covers many areas of life. Backers of the bills say they fill a glaring hole in legal protections for Americans.

If passed, Florida would join three other states — Louisiana, Arizona and Tennessee — in approving legislation curtailing the use of foreign laws. An Oklahoma ballot measure got 70 percent approval, but it goes a step further in specifically mentioning Sharia, the Islamic system of law. A federal court has blocked the measure’s implementation until its constitutionality is determined.

“It’s a waste of time and irrelevant legislation,” said Nezar Hamze, head of the Miami chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “But the motive behind it is very troubling.”