Archive for anti-Sharia legislation

Over the Rainbow in Kansas: Anti-Sharia Legislation Passes Undercover of ‘Women’s Rights’ Rhetoric

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Dorothy…we’re still in Kansas?:

Kansas Legislature Passes Discriminatory Anti-Muslim Bill By Calling It A ‘Women’s Rights’ Issue

by Faiz Shakir (ThinkProgress)

Last week, the Kansas Senate became the latest state to enact a discriminatory measure against Muslims in America by passing a so-called Sharia ban. The bill goes before Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS), who has not indicated whethere he will sign or veto it.

Oklahoma passed a Sharia ban by ballot in 2010, but that measure has been deemed facially unconstitutional by the courts because it specifically targets Muslims for discrimination. Because of Oklahoma’s experience, state legislatures are moving bills that are more oblique about their discriminatory intent. South Dakota, Louisiana, Arizona, and Tennessee have all passed laws that ban “foreign law in American courts” and don’t mention Muslims or Sharia by name.

Kansas’ proposed anti-Muslim law also similarly asserts it is about promoting “American law for American courts.” (Note: the Constitution already establishes this in its Supremacy Clause.) Kansas Republican state Sen. Chris Steineger noted, the measure was “presented” to him as a billspecifically targeting Muslims:

But Sen. Chris Steineger, R-Kansas City, said a marketing campaign by supporters of the bill inundated him with materials that “explain why sharia law is coming and Muslims are trying to take over America.”

“I thought that was quite ludicrous at the time, and I still do,” Steineger said. “I pointed this out, because this was not presented as protecting the Kansas Constitution. The proponents of this measure, clearly by the literature they gave me and by the video link they directed me to, they presented this as protecting us against sharia law. Despite the fact that this doesn’t mention sharia, that’s how this whole issue was presented.”

Indeed, Kansas was bombarded by anti-Sharia emails and letters from out-of-staters. The bill’s sponsors and advocates proclaimed that it was really about protecting “women’s rights.” The bill helps “women know the rights they have in America,” said sate Rep. Peggy Mast (R). “To me, this is a women’s rights issue,” said Sen. Susan Wagle (R). Nevermind that these same legislators have been engaged in a war against women’s healthPlanned Parenthoodthe right to choose, and so many other far more relevant “women’s rights” causes.

Right-wing legislators have been pushing Sharia bans across the country; roughly 20 other states are also considering similar legislation. The anti-Sharia legislative movement was spawned by David Yerushalmi, an influential Islamophobic lawyer who we profiled last year in Fear, Inc.

The anti-Sharia movement continues despite the fact that no evidence has been provided that there is any threat that a Sharia takeover is occurring. Kansas Republican state Sen. John Vratil “said he quizzed the bill’s supporters on when a Kansas court had ever based a decision on sharia law and had yet to be provided with an example.” As Vratil asserted, “Ladies and gentleman, this isa solution in search of a problem.” True, unless you are someone who views the increasing presence of Muslims in America as the problem.

Legislators introducing anti-Sharia bills don’t know anything about Sharia

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on April 7, 2011 by loonwatch
Loon Lawyer David Yerushalmi is behind the surge of anti-Sharia bills

It might be a good idea for us LoonWatchers to begin to contact these state senators and representatives and provide them with information about the Loons who are behind these proposed anti-Sharia bills. Sure, they may not care, but at the very least I think it could lead some of these officials to reconsider sponsoring these bills once they find out that 1) there is no threat posed by Sharia to our legal system, and 2) that the people pushing these bills are wacked out crazies who foam at the mouth at the mentioning of Islam and Muslims (i.e. they’re bigots).

Salon.com – The sharia panic factory by Justin Elliot

One of the more striking things about the current anti-sharia craze is how often state legislators who introduce anti-sharia bills can’t answer basic questions about Islamic law or why they see it as a threat.

In Alabama, for example, when the state senator who sponsored an anti-sharia bill was asked by a reporter to simply define sharia, he responded: “I don’t have my file in front of me.” In Florida, anti-sharia bill sponsors couldn’t name a single case where Islamic or international law had been used in a troubling way in U.S. courts. When, on Wednesday, I interviewed a Nebraska state senator behind a similar bill, I asked him about what cases were causes of concern to him. He responded: “I’m not in my office to look them up.”

How could all these legislators be so uninformed about their own bills? A big part of the reason is that most of them did not actually write the legislation in question. Rather, many of the anti-sharia bills being considered around the country are either based on or directly copied from model legislation created by an obscure far-right Arizona attorney and activist named David Yerushalmi.

The Nebraska case is instructive. State Sen. Mark Christensen introduced a bill(.pdf) in January to bar the use of any foreign law in Nebraska courts. When I spoke to Christensen on Wednesday, he acknowledged he did not have a deep understanding of the issue, referring me back to his office when I asked him what cases involving sharia or foreign law were troubling to him.

He summed up his reason for sponsoring the bill: “This is America. We use America’s law.” (For more on what sharia actually is, see here and here.)

It turns out Christensen introduced the bill after his office was approached by the head of the local chapter of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America, Christensen aide Dan Wiles told me. ACT! for America is a Florida-based group led by Brigitte Gabriel. In a profile last month, the New York Times detailed Gabriel’s strategy of selectively quoting the Quran to paint most or all Muslims as violent extremists.

“They came and talked to several different senators, and Sen. Christensen decided to introduce the bill,” Wiles said, adding that he was presented with model legislation. “It pretty much was exactly what was drafted and introduced,” he said. “Everything substantive was the same.”

The model legislation in question originates with Yerushalmi, the Arizona lawyer who is associated with several organizations including the American Public Policy Alliance. The model anti-foreign law bill on the Public Policy Alliance’s website has been used in states including Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri and South Dakota. It is called “American Laws for American Courts.”

Who is Yerushalmi? His background leaves little doubt that these anti-”foreign law” bills are designed to target sharia.

He has written, for example, that “The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.” A group he founded, the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), has reportedly advocated for a law making it a felony “punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.” The Anti-Defamation League has also called out Yerushalmi for his “anti-black bigotry.” (Mother Jones also has a good profile of Yerushalmi here.)

So next time the sponsor of an anti-sharia bill can’t answer basic questions about Islamic law, it’s a good sign Yerushalmi’s role deserves more scrutiny.