NC Senate passes ‘Sharia law’ bill

RALEIGH — The state Senate on Friday passed a bill that would keep courts from recognizing Sharia law.

While proponents of the legislation said it would keep people safe from foreign laws, critics derided the bill as sending a message of intolerance and bigotry to followers of Islam.
The Senate had already approved the measure when it was attached to a controversial measure that would impose stricter regulations on abortion providers in the state. But the foreign law provision wasn’t sufficiently critiqued because abortion overwhelmed the floor debate, said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham.

Now called House Bill 522, the provision’s contents haven’t changed. It reminds judges that the U.S. and N.C. constitutions are the law of the land and no foreign law can supersede them. Sometimes international laws are used in court as evidence before a judge, or in written opinions. But this bill would stop judges from considering foreign law when it violates a citizen’s constitutional rights.

“Unfortunately we have judges from time to time … that sometimes seem to forget what the supreme law of the land is, and sometimes make improper rulings,” said Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton, a Wilson Republican and the legislation’s Senate sponsor.

Though the bill doesn’t specifically mention it, Newton was clear during Friday’s session that the legislation targets Sharia law, a legal system based on the religious and moral tenants of Islam. Few Muslim countries apply the entire body of rules, instead choosing measures relevant to them. More than 60 countries use at least part of Sharia law in their governance.

Its improper use has “worked to deprive” U.S. citizens and immigrants of their constitutional rights, Newton said. There have been 27 reported cases around the country in which Sharia law has been used, he added.

More than 20 states have introduced legislation banning Sharia law or foreign law in state courts. Many bills – including North Carolina’s – would apply only to cases in which the application of foreign law would violate a person’s constitutional rights.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Chapel Hill, a Democrat, said she thinks the bill’s sponsors don’t truly mean to inform judges that foreign law is unacceptable, but rather the people of North Carolina.

“I think the audience is really wider,” Kinnaird said.

 

North Carolina GOP Is Using An Anti-Sharia Bill To Sneak Through Extreme Abortion Restrictions

The North Carolina legislature is advancing a package of stringent abortion restrictions that appeared in the Senate this week without any public notice. The anti-abortion measures popped up on Tuesday night, tacked onto a controversial measure to ban Sharia law, and caught women’s health advocates completely off-guard.

House Bill 695, which would prohibit the recognition of Sharia law in family courts — an increasingly popular conservative tactic that essentially serves to demonize the Islamic faith — was slated for consideration in a Senate committee on Tuesday. As soon as that committee convened, it quickly approved several abortion-related amendments to the legislation. HB 695 now combines several different anti-abortion measures that were in different stages in the legislature into one omnibus measure.

The new amendments would prevent insurance plans on Obamacare’s health marketplaces from covering abortion services, ban “sex-selective” abortions, impose unnecessary restrictions on doctors administering the abortion pill to women, and require the state’s abortion clinics to adhere to complicated new regulations that would likely force most of them to close. A similar package of abortion restrictions has inspired weeks of protest in Texas, where thousands of reproductive rights activists have been rallying at the state capitol.

 

Newspaper Identifies “Sharia Triangle” in the Hague

20 May 2013

Claim by newspaper Trouw that part of The Hague’s Schilderswijk district is so dominated by orthodox Muslims that they are dictating what people should wear and how they should behave, have been denied by both police and local politicians.

Under the headline ‘Hague district is orthodox Muslim territory’, Trouw said ‘short skirts and dresses are not accepted on the street’. The paper said the area, with a population of some 5,000, is known by locals as ‘The Sharia Triangle’. ‘Very slowly, the rules in the area are beginning to change,’ the article said. ‘The norms of the majority are beginning to take over.’

But locals were quick to describe the article as exaggerated. ‘We know the area is dominated by Muslims, yes,’ said local Christian Democrat leader Gert-Jan Bakker. ‘But we have never noticed that they are in control.’ Local police chief Michel de Roos told broadcaster Omroep West claims by Trouw that the police allow locals to solve their own problems is not true. The police presence in the area has been strengthened and local beat officers have a strong local network, he said.

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher and MP and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders both paid visits to the district. Wilders spent 15 minutes walking through the area and did not speak to any locals, RTL news reported. ‘This is a part of the Netherlands where our norms and standards apply,’ Wilders told reporters during his stroll.

CAIR to File Complaint Over MN Judge’s Questioning on ‘Sharia’

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/17/13) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today that it plans to file a complaint against a Minnesota judge who inappropriately questioned defendants on their religious beliefs and equated mainstream Islamic principles with terrorism.

Before sentencing two Muslim women to lengthy prison terms yesterday, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis asked each woman if she supported “jihad, suicide bombings and Sharia law.” Judge Davis also asked, “Does she understand there are some Muslim women who wear dresses or short skirts?” Davis said he was trying to decide whether the defendants would “support terrorist causes” when they are released from prison. The questions reportedly drew audible reactions in a courtroom packed with Muslim spectators.

“It is misguided and unethical for a judge to reference an individual’s general support of mainstream Islamic principles, known as Sharia, during sentencing to determine a defendant’s future dangerousness,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “By also linking modest dress to a propensity for violence, the judge revealed a disturbing bias that may have impacted his decisions in this case and his sentencing of the defendants.”

Abbas said CAIR would file a complaint based on the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364, and Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings, 248 F.R.D. 674 (2008).

He added that CAIR’s complaint will not deal with the specifics of the cases or the charges against the defendants, but with the action of the judge in inappropriately questioning the defendants on their views about Sharia and modest attire, both of which are irrelevant to their cases.

French ‘jihadist’ returned to France

Liberation

14.05.2013

Gilles Le Guen, who was arrested at the end of April in Mali, has been returned to France where he was immediately taken into custody by Central Directorate for Interior Intelligence.  The 58-year-old was arrested in the Timbuktu region of Mali by French army units, who have joint the Malian government in combating Salafi groups in the North. The man is suspected of having fought alongside the Salafis for the imposition of a Sharia law ruled state. Le Guen’s arrest made several headlines in France and brought the subject of ‘home-grown terrorism’ back onto the national forefront. The French Government accuses him of having fought in ‘jihadist groups’ and being a ‘fanatic’ and a ‘clueless person who became a terrorist’.

Le Guen is to face several weeks of interrogation by the intelligence unit and a prolonged a jail term.

Temporary Marriages Revived In UK Shia Muslim Community

13 May 2013

 

The BBC reports that an Islamic practice, nikah mut’ah (temporary marriage), is gaining in popularity amongst young Shia Muslims in the UK. Described as “basically a contract,” temporary marriages allow young Muslims to meet and get to know each other before entering a permanent marriage and without breaking Islamic law. These informal marriages are the subject of a recent BBC Radio Asian Network special report entitled, “Married for a Minute.”

 

Sara, a Muslim woman who entered into a temporary marriage and spoke to the BBC about her experience, said that she entered into the arrangement because “It allowed us to meet without breaking the bounds of Sharia [Islamic law]. We both wanted to date, to go out for dinner or go shopping and just get to know each other better before getting married, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.” Though statistics are not gathered on these informal arrangements, Muslim leaders interviewed by the BBC claim that the practice is experiencing a revival amongst Shia university students in the UK.

 

Temporary marriages are not universally accepted in the Muslim community. The practice is largely confined to the Shia community, with Sunnis considering these informal marriages haram (forbidden). A Sunni spokesperson for the UK Islamic Sharia Council said that “There is no difference between mut’ah marriages and prostitution” and that she has never come across a Sunni scholar who has declared such practices halal (permissible).

BBC Responds to Criticism of Panorama Documentary

8 May 2013

 

The Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, the institution which was the subject of a recent BBC Panorama documentary on sharia councils in Britain, has criticized the BBC for its undercover reporting and for editing the footage out of context.

 

The documentary features an undercover BBC reporter posing as a woman complaining of domestic abuse, and shows members of the Islamic Sharia Council staff urging her to go to the police only as a last resort. The documentary alleges that some women who turn to these sharia courts are not aware that their rulings on such matters as child custody disputes are not legally binding. The Islamic Sharia Council has challenged the impartiality of the BBC investigation, asserting that the Panorma crew had a “pre-determined agenda and stereotype of how shariah councils operate.”

 

For its part, the BBC has rejected accusations of impropriety, saying in a statement to the Guardian, “Panorama fully stands behind its investigations into the workings of some of Britain’s Sharia Councils.” The documentary, entitled: “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” has garnered the attention of many British politicians and was heavily referenced in a recent parliamentary debate on the role of sharia courts in the United Kingdom.

 

3 Simple Charts That Explain What Muslims Believe

The Pew Forum recently released a 226-page report exploring opinions and beliefs from Muslim communities around the world. The survey, which was conducted through more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in more than 80 languages, delves into the Muslim world’s insights on everything from Sharia law to alcohol consumption. The findings were simple: Just as all religions, Islam is subjective in many ways and the few who interpret it in a radical and dangerous way are in no way indicative of the overwhelming majority who don’t.

 

The first finding — and one that intrigues the Western world the most — is that the majority of Muslims want to implement sharia law, but almost no one was in consensus as to what exactly sharia means.

Support for sharia is highest in Afghanistan, where 99% of the people support sharia. The Palestinian territories, Malaysia, Niger, and Pakistan follow Afghanistan, also holding a high preference for sharia law. Central Asia and Europe, on the other hand, rank amongst the lowest for support for sharia.

But, before all the Islamophobes get up in arms about how Sharia law is taking over the world, Pew notes that there is little agreement even within the Muslim world as to what Sharia law actually is. There is a major split, for example, amongst Muslims as to whether or not corporal punishment is acceptable — religiously, legally and socially – for issues such as adultery, divorce, and thievery. And the reason for that is simple. As Wajahat Ali explains in his article,Understanding Sharia Law, Sharia is neither static nor is it easily defined.

It is open to interpretation in terms of serving as a moral compass, and is largely concerned with religious duties such as praying and fasting, and, most importantly, ensures a welfare state. Because of this, he says, “Any observant Muslim would consider him or herself a sharia adherent. It is impossible to find a Muslim who practices any ritual and does not believe himself or herself to be complying with Sharia.”

 

In the end, it is clear that Islam is practiced differently with different cultural contexts throughout the world — a clear indication that, just as with all religions, Islam is subjective and can be interpreted very differently by everyone.

House of Commons Debates Sharia Councils

23 April 2013

 

On Tuesday, 23 April, the House of Commons held a debate on the role of sharia courts in the United Kingdom. With frequent reference to the BBC “Panorama” program on sharia councils which aired the previous evening, Kris Hopkins (Conservative MP for Keighley) sought clarification of the Government’s position on sharia councils and a guarantee that these council would not be allowed to constitute an alternative judicial system. Citing evidence presented in the BBC documentary, Mr. Hopkins raised particular concerns over the unequal treatment of women in matters of arbitration and divorce and called for the prosecution of those suspected of wrongdoing in these affairs.

 

Helen Grant, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, stated plainly that “Sharia law has no jurisdiction under the law of England and Wales and the courts do not recognize it” and that “there is no parallel court system in this country, and we [the Government] have no intention of changing the position in any part of England and Wales.” Both Mr. Hopkins and the Government were careful to emphasize Britain’s proud tradition of religious tolerance and voiced a strong determination to protect the rights of all British citizens.

 

Mr. Hopkins was motivated to broach the issue in Parliament at least in part by a statement from the Bradford Council of Mosques calling for the formalization of sharia councils. The MP expressed particular concern over calls for government recognition of sharia councils. However, local Muslim groups were quick to distance themselves from such a position. Mujeeb Rahman, a member of the Keighley Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, asserted that U.K. Muslims do not want a separate judicial system and that sharia councils in the U.K. would benefit from operating in a more rigorous legal framework.

Investigation Finds Women at Risk in Sharia Courts

7 April 2013sharia documentary

A Crown Prosecution Service investigation of a number of Sharia courts operating in mosques across the country found that these courts may be risking the safety of women by ruling in favor of possibly abusive husbands. Continue reading “Investigation Finds Women at Risk in Sharia Courts”