A Florida Islamic group is accusing some Republican Party lawmakers and local party organizations of fostering anti-Muslim sentiment.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, sent letters to almost every Republican Club or party extension in the state, asking the groups to stop bringing speakers who espouse anti-Islamic views. The letter said it represented the interests of more than 150,000 registered Florida Muslim voters.
Hassan Shibly, executive director for CAIR, based in Tampa, said such speakers not only inflame anti-Islam tensions but have also led to discriminatory legislation: namely Senate Bill 386, which would ban foreign laws from being enacted in Florida; and House Bill 921, which allows school districts to select textbooks instead of adhering to the statewide curriculum.
Sen. Nancy Detert, who represents Sarasota County and part of Charlotte County, refused to comment on the two bills and the letter sent out by CAIR.
“Why should I care about a letter sent out by someone I know nothing about? Is that really worth a story?” Detert said.
SENATE BILL 386 & HOUSE BILL 903
Referred to as the “Anti-Foreign Law Bill” and the “Anti-Sharia Law Bill,” this legislation would keep Florida judges from applying foreign laws. The only exception would be if the foreign law guarantees the same constitutional protections found in the Florida and U.S. constitutions.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, in the Senate and Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, in the House.
Gov. Rick Scott has voiced his approval for the measure, but critics say the law is unnecessary and there are virtually no examples of foreign law previously intervening with state laws.
Shibly said the bill is thinly veiled anti-Islam legislation, citing a booklet Hays handed out to other Senators.
According to the Miami Herald, the booklet was called: “Shari’ah Law: Radical Islam’s threat to the U.S. Constitution.”
Shibly of the Council on American-Islam Relations said the bill would create a patchwork of curricula that would make it more difficult for the state to set standards for achievement. He also worried some districts might use the measure to push their ideas onto students.