The Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City was fired upon by paintballs early Sunday, and the vandals fled the scene before they were apprehended.
About 2:45 a.m., the vandals pulled into the parking lot of the Grand Mosque, 3201 NW 48, and fired upon the building’s doors, Hassan Ahmed, the mosque’s imam and director said.
“A car pulled here in front of the main entrance and started shooting paintball guns, but at the time, I didn’t know it was that. I thought it was bullets they were shooting into the building. And I could hear when I was coming from the house, but before I reached there, they were gone,” Ahmed said.
Police arrived a few minutes later, but by that time, the vandals were gone.
In the 19th century, Catholicism was regarded by many people in this country as thoroughly incompatible with Americanism. They saw it as a hostile foreign element that would subvert democracy. Today, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic, and they are taken to be as American as Mountain Dew.
We’ve come a long way in religious tolerance. Or maybe not. The belief that Catholics are irredeemably alien and disloyal has given way to the fear that Muslims pose a mortal threat to our way of life.
That distrust is behind a push in state legislatures to forbid courts from applying Islamic Shariah law in any case. Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma have passed these bans, though the Oklahoma law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.
The chief sponsor, Republican Rep. Peggy Mast, explained, “I want to make sure people understand there’s sometimes a conflict between other laws and the Constitution, and we need to assert our Constitution is still the law of the land.” That’s like asserting that the sun is hot: It will be true regardless.
The change will have about as much effect in Kansas as a ban on indoor co-ed field hockey. It turns out no one has been able to find a case where a Kansas court has actually employed Islamic strictures to reach a verdict.
If, for instance, a Muslim man marries a Muslim woman and then tries to divorce her by saying “I divorce you” three times, in accordance with Shariah, he will find he’s wasted his breath. State marriage law will govern in Kansas just as it has in other states when it conflicts with the dictates of Islam.
OKLAHOMA CITY — A proposed constitutional amendment that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering international or Islamic law discriminates against religions, and a Muslim community leader has the right to challenge its constitutionality, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.
The court in Denver upheld U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange’s order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.
Muneer Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, sued to block the law from taking effect, arguing that the Save Our State Amendment violated his First Amendment rights. The amendment read, in part: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.”
State Sen. Anthony Sykes, who led the Senate effort to get the measure on the ballot, said Tuesday he would continue to fight to lift the injunction. “The federal appeals court in Denver attempted to silence the voice of 70 percent of Oklahoma voters,” Sykes said in a statement. “At some point we have to decide whether this is a country of by and for the judges, or of by and for the people. How far will the people let them go? This ruling is right along with legalizing abortion and forced busing of school children.”
The case now returns to federal court in Oklahoma City to determine the constitutionality of the proposed amendment.
“My office will continue to defend the state in this matter and proceed with the merits of the case,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement.
An amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that bans state judges from considering Islamic law will face its next legal hurdle on Monday (Sept. 12) when a federal appeals court considers its constitutionality.
Just weeks after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters last November, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled it unconstitutional, saying “the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals.”
While judges routinely consider religious law when deciding family or contract disputes that could not be settled by religious authorities, constitutional law supersedes religious law if they are found to be in conflict.
Opponents say the Oklahoma measure would invalidate civil documents like marital contracts and wills, which some people draft according to religious guidelines.
While many Muslims viewed the Oklahoma referendum as discriminatory and fueled by Islamophobia, they say it has also given them a chance to educate non-Muslims about Shariah and Islam.
“We’ve stepped up our outreach efforts, and I think we’ve been able to change a lot of minds,” said Saad Mohammed, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “If the referendum were held again tomorrow, I think a lot fewer people would support it.”
OKLAHOMA CITY — The man wanted in the bombing of a Florida mosque who was shot and killed when he pulled a gun on agents trying to arrest him in Oklahoma hated Muslims and had become increasingly erratic, according to FBI documents.
The FBI says Sandlin Matthews Smith of St. Johns County, Fla., was shot Wednesday in a field at Glass Mountain State Park near Orienta in northwest Oklahoma. FBI Agent Clayton Simmonds out of the Oklahoma City office says agents opened fire when Smith, 46, pulled out an AK-47 assault rifle as agents approached him.
Smith was facing several federal charges, including damage to religious property and possession of a destructive device, in connection with the May 10, 2010, bombing of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville. No one was hurt in that explosion, but authorities found remnants of a crude pipe bomb at the scene, and shrapnel from the blast was found a hundred yards away.
The state House Judiciary Committee sent a bill to the House floor today, even though no one – not even the sponsor – could come up with any evidence that it’s needed.
House Bill 640, sponsored by Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, would, according to the bill analysis, “prohibit the application or enforcement of a foreign law in a legal proceeding if doing so would violate a right granted by the North Carolina or United States constitutions.” It would also nullify provisions in contracts or agreements “calling for the application of foreign law or choosing a foreign venue…if it violated a constitutional right of a party.”
The first version of the legislation was passed by ballot initiative in Oklahoma. It specifically named Sharia, and was promptly blocked by a judge, who declared that unconstitutional.
Since then, newer versions of the measure in states from Arkansas and Texas to Indiana and Alaska have been more carefully worded. Cleveland’s version makes no mention of religion at all, and it wasn’t mentioned in committee.
But House Minority Leader Joe Hackney has no doubt. “It’s about sharia,” he said “It’s part of the far-right agenda. The extreme far right agenda.”
The Tulsa Police Deptartment is investigating a captain who refused an order to assign officers to attend an upcoming Islamic event because he said it would violate his religious beliefs. Capt. Paul Fields was reassigned after he refused to order officers under his command to attend the Islamic Center of Tulsa’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a spokesman for the department said.
“It is my opinion and that of my legal counsel that forcing me to enter a Mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my Civil Rights,” Fields wrote in an internal police department memo obtained by Fox News.
Attorneys for the state of Oklahoma will appeal a federal judge’s ruling temporarily blocking a proposed voter-approved ban on the use of Islamic or international law.
Of the 3,687,050 Oklahomans, 30,000 are Muslims. This means that less than 1% of the population of Oklahoma is Muslim (.81% to be exact). So, what would motivate seven out of ten Oklahomans to ratify a state constitutional amendment which prohibits judges from taking into consideration Sharia law in their decision making process? Is it simply ignorance or something more sinister—where politician are utilizing Islam-bashing for political and financial gain.
The “Save Our State” Amendment is yet another example of the ignorance and insidious misconceptions about Islam in general and especially about American Muslims. Just this last summer, the “near ground zero” mosque debate, brought to light the Islamaphobic and xenophobic hysteria surrounding the issue of building mosques in America and the prospect of Sharia law being “implemented” on American soil. Right-wing groups then made commercials attacking several Democratic candidates for respecting the First Amendment and saying they had no problems with the project. In the case of Oklahoma, legal experts have questioned whether the measure is necessary, given that there is no apparent danger of foreign law becoming binding on the state. They go on to contend that Shariah law is just as much of a threat to legal system of the United States as Jewish Halakhic law or Catholic canon law.
The original measure in Oklahoma was proposed by Rex Duncan, a Republican state representative, who has stated that such a measure would protect the “children and grandchildren” of present day Oklahomans. Despite the law gaining a 70% approval vote on November 2nd, it was immediately challenged in court by Muneer Awad, the head of the regional branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Mr Awad contented that the law thwarted his right to religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. “Islam was the target of this amendment,” Mr Awad said. “This amendment does not have a secular purpose.” On November 8th, Judge Vicki Miles LaGrange agreed with Mr Awad’s concerns and granted a temporary restraining order against the measure, in advance of a hearing on November 22.
On November 29th, the federal judge ruled against a voter-approved restriction on Islamic law. In a 15-page order, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange continued to keep the restriction out of the Oklahoma Constitution. Her ruling was a victory for Mr Awad and the Muslims of Oklahoma. The judge wrote: “This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our (U.S.) Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights. Throughout the course of our country’s history, the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals, an occurrence which our founders foresaw and provided for through the Bill of Rights.”