OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge on Monday said she would rule by the end of the month on a lawsuit challenging an Oklahoma constitutional amendment that would prohibit state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.
U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-Le Grange extended a restraining order blocking enforcement of the new law until Nov. 29 during a hearing in the case.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that a federal judge in Oklahoma has temporarily blocked an anti-Islam state ballot measure (SQ 755) that would have amended that state’s constitution to forbid judges from considering Islamic principles (Shariah) or international law when making a ruling. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of the United States District Court — Western District of Oklahoma today granted a temporary restraining order blocking certification of the recently-passed ballot measure by the Oklahoma State Board of Elections.
CAIR says the ballot measure would infringe on the constitutional rights of ordinary Oklahomans — including the right to wear religious head scarves in driver’s license photographs, choose Islamic marriage contracts, implement Islamic wills, or to be buried according to one’s religious beliefs.
Judge Miles-LaGrange also scheduled a hearing on November 22 for arguments as to whether she should grant a preliminary injunction that would extend the restraining order until a final determination is made in the case.
An Oklahoma Muslim filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to block a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters that would prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases. The measure, which got 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, was one of several on Oklahoma’s ballot that critics said pandered to conservatives and would move the state further to the right.
“We have a handful of politicians who have pushed an amendment onto our state ballot and then conducted a well-planned and well-funded campaign of misinformation and fear,” said Muneer Awad, who filed the suit and is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “We have certain unalienable rights, and those rights cannot be taken away from me by a political campaign.” About 20,000 and 30,000 Muslims live in Oklahoma, Awad estimated.
The lawsuit alleges the ballot measure transforms Oklahoma’s Constitution into “an enduring condemnation” of Islam by singling it out for special restrictions by barring Islamic law, also known as Sharia law.
By: Haroon Moghul
It’s called Measure 755. For Oklahoma, it forbids the use of international and Shari’ah law in state courts. As of the time of writing, it has passed, winning nearly 70% of the vote. As an American Muslim, and a citizen of New York, I am amused, concerned, fascinated and, oddly, given hope. Let me go in that order.
What most Americans don’t realize is that we already have interpretations of Shari’ah law in our country; or, at least, interpretations of the personal, moral, and ethical components of the law, operating off of individual choice and will. When Muslims pray, they are following interpretations of Shari’ah. Fasting in Ramadan. Giving in charity. Even a smile, the Prophet Muhammad said, is charity.
I am amused that Oklahomans would consider this threat enough to pass a law, to head off (and I can’t believe this is the case) the looming Islamization of the West. Apparently, it will begin in the center of the country. About all this guarantees is that the booming Halal food market may be a no-go area, and the rapid growth of Islamic finance as a global industry will just have to pass Oklahoma by.
By Bill Sherman, Tulsa World, 10/13/10
A proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would ban Shariah
law in the state court system is either a pre-emptive strike against
encroaching Islamic law in the U.S. or an expression of Islamophobia,
depending on who you ask.
State Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, authored State Question 755,
which requires state courts to rely only on federal and state laws when
deciding cases, and forbids courts to consider international law or
Shariah law. It will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. . .
“I would describe this as a pre-emptive strike,” Duncan said. “We don’t
want to let it get a toehold.”
Razi Hashmi, former executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the
Council on American- Islamic Relations, said the proposal is motivated
by hate for Muslims.
He said Duncan has a history of anti-Muslim bigotry, including backing a
proposal to ban Muslim headscarves on driver’s license photos and
refusing to accept the Quran as a gift.
“A law such as this sends us backward, and is really bad for business,
especially in an oil state that deals with the Middle East,” he said.
The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations CAIR) has joined other groups concerning the constitutionally protected right to religious freedom, and an Oklahoma bill that bans religious headwear in driver’s licenses and other photo identification cards.
The bill passed in Oklahoma in March, however, the Oklahoma legislature dropped the proposed bill citing its confliction with permitted religious exemption and constituents said that the bill violated their First Amendment rights. “We thank Oklahoma lawmakers for their leadership and courage in standing up for religious pluralism and the First Amendment,” Razi Hashmi, CAIR-Oklahoma executive director, said in a statement issued Tuesday. Some 600 letters opposing the draft legislation were sent to lawmakers by Oklahomans of all faiths, including Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Catholics.
A teenage Muslim girl filed a complaint against a store at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Woodland Hills Mall, for refusing to hire her because she wears a headscarf. The girl says that a district manager for Abercrombie & Fitch told her that the religious garment doesn’t fit the retail chain’s image. CAIR helped the girl file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and asked the store to apologize to the girl. “Employers have a clear legal duty to accommodate the religious practices of their workers,” said Razi Hashmi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma. “To deny someone employment because of apparent religious bias goes against long-standing American traditions of tolerance and inclusion.”
Several Oklahoma lawmakers plan to return copies of the Koran to a state panel on diversity after a lawmaker claimed the Muslim holy book condones the killing of innocent people. The books were given to Oklahoma’s 149 senators and representatives by the panel, the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. At least 24 legislators, including Representative Rex Duncan, a Republican, have notified the panel they will return the gift. Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, chairwoman of the council and a Muslim, denounced Mr. Duncan’s assessment of Islam. I know he referred to Islam as an ideology, Ms. Seirafi-Pour said. That is not a fact. It is a religion. It is very peaceful, very inclusive.
The US justice department has filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim girl who was twice sent home from school for wearing a headscarf. The education authorities said the hijab breached the dress code of the school in Oklahoma. But the justice department says it amounts to religious discrimination. The case of 11-year-old Nashala Hearn follows rows in France and elsewhere about whether the school is a suitable place for religious symbols.