State senators advance controversial ‘anti-Sharia’ bill

TALLAHASSEE—A controversial measure dubbed an “anti-Sharia bill” advanced out of the Florida Senate on a 24-14 vote Monday.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, touted SB 286 as “an American bill.”

It would restrict judges from considering foreign law in matters of divorce, alimony, child support and custody.

Under the language of the bill, an order of a foreign court would not be enforceable if it “offends the public policy of the state.”

It goes on to say: “Any attempt to apply the law of a foreign country is void if it contravenes the strong public policy of this state or if the law is unjust or unreasonable.”

Several senators said they were baffled by perceived need for the bill, feared it would inhibit foreign trade and adversely affect the state’s large Jewish population and their Israel-granted divorces.

“There is no record of Sharia law being implemented in the courts of Florida or any other state,” Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat said, in opposition.

Sharia is the moral code and religious laws that governs Muslim life.

“A Mosque in the neighbourhood.”Conflict, public space and urban integration of Muslim mosques in Catalonia.

The author examines 25 conflicts in Catalonia between 1997 and 2008 related to the opening of Muslim places of worship. He presents and analyzes the different positions of participants involved in the conflicts (political actors, community members, and social representatives) and their evolution over time.

For the author, these conflicts take place when Muslim communities overcome certain economic difficulties and seek to build better places of worship. When analysed, the different conflicts show how the local authorities not just accepted the protests of local residents but incorporated them into their public policy as well. As a result of these protests, the building projects for new mosques have been blocked or obligated to move elsewhere, usually to the outskirts of cities or to industrial areas. Currently, the management of religious pluralism in Catalonia is an important and sensitive issue for different administrations making public policy.

Secularisation & Secularism

Secularisation – the process of a dividing the realms of politics and religion – has been influencing national and worldly affairs for several hundred years. The idea of the desirability of such a division – secularism – is nowadays a given backdrop for public policy issues regarding education, family, gender, media, migration, personal integrity and freedom, reproduction and sexuality. But globalisation and multicultural trends, as well as claims from religious groups for increased political influence or autonomy and the uncertain and varying responses to these from society, have made us aware that the secularist ideal has been realized through the process of secularisation in radically different ways in different settings. As a result, an identity crisis is presently afflicting secular societies. It is no longer as clear what secularism is supposed to amount to, why secularisation is desirable and where its proper limits are. To investigate questions about this is the focus of a newly initiated multidisciplinary research theme at the University of Gothenburg.


  • ABDULLAHI AN-NA’IM, Human Rights Law, Emory University
  • KENT GREENAWALT, Law, Columbia University
  • BRIAN PALMER, Anthropology & Religion, Uppsala University & University of Gothenburg
  • PAUL WEITHMAN, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
  • LINDA WOODHEAD, Religious Studies, Lancaster University



The conference is open to the public and free of charge. Registration is required for attendance.

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National Post Editor Bemoans Lack of Public Policy Discussion in Recent Canadian Elections

J.L. Granatstein of the National Post daily newspaper bemoans the lack of discussion on public policy – particularly related to international relationships and the country’s stringent anti-terrorism laws – by leaders in the recent Canadian elections. Granatstein claims that compared to American presidential candidates, Canadian candidates said little about their genuine plans on these issues, and others like militant Islam or the Tamil Tigers. Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, became Prime Minister of a minority government on October 14, 2008.

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Senators seek rights protections in FBI probes

Three Democratic senators are seeking “bare-minimum” civil rights protection for those Americans who might be targeted in FBI security investigations, even without evidence of wrongdoing. Senators Dick Durban, Russ Feingold, and Edward Kennedy made demands on the measures in a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, saying that the new policies could allow surveillance of innocent Muslim or Arab-Americans based in part on just their religion or nationality. “The Justice Department’s actions over the last eight years have alienated many Americans, especially Arab and Muslim Americans. We are concerned that issuing new attorney general guidelines without a more transparent process will actually make the FBI’s job more, not less, difficult by exacerbating mistrust in communities whose cooperation the FBI needs,” the letter is quoted as saying.

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Associated Press

International Herald Tribune

European Islam: Challenges for Society and Public Policy

Works on Islam in Europe often read like a juxtaposition of national case studies covering the history and perhaps the sociology of immigrant groups in the countries considered. Although the sociology of Islam is well-developed in certain European countries such as France, Germany and the UK, it is only in its infancy as a discipline at the European level. The chapters in this work, by leading European experts in the field, therefore aim to supply policy-makers, analysts and civil society leaders with an inventory of the main issues concerning the presence of Islam in Europe. The key message is that European Islam exists as a powerful transnational phenomenon, and European policy must keep pace with this reality.

Contributors include Samir Amghar, Amel Boubekeur, Michael Emerson, Chris Allen, Valerie Amiraux, Tufyal Choudhury, Bernard Godard, Imane Karich, Isabelle Rigoni, Olivier Roy and Sara Silvestri.

Space for Islam? Urban policy, resources, and organizations

Published in Dutch only: “Ruimte voor de islam? Stedelijk beleid, voorzieningen, organisaties”

In deze minutieuze studie legt Marcel Maussen de gecompliceerde verhoudingen in de samenleving met `de’ islam bloot. Hij doet dit door de toon van het publieke en politieke debat, het gevoerde beleid en de relaties tussen islamitische groeperingen en instellingen en de gemeentelijke overheden nader te bekijken in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht en Zaanstad. Hij groepeert die onder vier beleidsvisies — marginalisering, pluralisme, dialoog en assimilatie — en laat de consequenties van die visies zien. Als contrast toont hij hoe men in vroeger tijden in Nederland met ‘de’ islam omging en, vergelijkenderwijs, hoe de dagelijkse praktijk in Frankrijk is.

Uit dit onderzoek blijkt dat er regelmatig afhankelijk van de politieke samenstelling van gemeentecolleges en van het Iandelijke politieke klimaat breuklijnen zijn in het gevoerde beleid. Veelal blijkt ook dat hoe directer het beleid bij en met burgers en organisaties op buurt of stadsdeelniveau wordt ontwikkeld en in praktijk gebracht, hoe minder ruis en confrontaties tussen de stad en haar islamitische bewoners voorkomen.

De opname van een relatief nieuwe godsdienst in onze samenleving raakt niet alleen aan fundamentele staatsrechtelijke waarden, maar vereist ook pragmatische regelingen. Lezing van deze studie helpt gemeentebestuurders en alien die hen bijstaan om vooral met gezond verstand, burgermansfatsoen en liefde voor democratie en burgerparticipatie zowel de rechtsstaat te beschermen als hun eigen stadsbewoners in deze rechtsstaat in te sluiten.

About the author:
Marcel Maussen is politicoloog en verbonden aan de afdeling Politicologie en het Instituut voorMigratie en Etnische Studies CIMES) van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.

American Muslims Want “Role In Politics”

Even the most religiously traditional Muslims believe they should participate in American politics, according to a newly released study of one of the largest Muslim communities in the nation. The survey of Detroit-area Muslims is the latest to show that the isolationism that once pervaded the immigrant Muslim community is dissipating. Muslims ranked protecting their civil rights as a top public policy issue, according to the study.