Archive for Oklahoma

Court: Oklahoma Ban on Islamic Law Unconstitutional

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Muneer Awad is seen in this Nov. 2010 photo by Jim Beckel.   Read more: http://newsok.com/court-oklahoma-ban-on-islamic-law-unconstitutional/article/3639122#ixzz1j5mvtpPF

For those who don’t know, the Constitution is the law of the land. Just making sure!

Court: Oklahoma ban on Islamic law unconstitutional

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An amendment that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering international or Islamic law discriminates against religions and a Muslim community leader has the right to challenge its constitutionality, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The court in Denver upheld U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange‘s order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.

Muneer Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, sued to block the law from taking effect, arguing that the Save Our State Amendment violated his First Amendment rights.

The amendment read, in part: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.”

Backers argued that the amendment intended to ban all religious laws, that Islamic law was merely named as an example and that it wasn’t meant as a specific attack on Muslims. The court disagreed.

“That argument conflicts with the amendment’s plain language, which mentions Sharia law in two places,” the appeals court opinion said.

The court also noted that the backers of the amendment admitted they did not know of any instance when an Oklahoma court applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other countries.

Awad argued that the ban on Islamic law would likely affect every aspect of his life as well as the execution of his will after his death. The appeals court pointed out that Awad made a “strong showing” of potential harm.

“When the law that voters wish to enact is likely unconstitutional, their interests do not outweigh Mr. Awad’s in having his constitutional rights protected,” the court said.

Georgia Going the Way of Oklahoma and other States

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Oklahoma got the Islamophobic ball rolling.

Lawyers Speak Against Ga. Bill That Bans Use of Foreign Laws in State Courts

(Law.com)

Critics of legislation in the General Assembly that would prohibit the adoption and practice of foreign laws in state courts say it unfairly targets Muslims, could discourage international business in Georgia and violates federal arbitration laws.

House Bill 45, introduced by Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, states “it shall be the public policy of this state to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws when the application … will result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this state or of the United States.” The bill also would prevent arbitrators or tribunals from enforcing a foreign law that didn’t meet constitutional standards.

Jacobs, a lawyer and vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told the Fulton County Daily Report the bill would “ban the use of Sharia law in state courts.” He acknowledged that he was not aware of any instances in Georgia where a plaintiff or defendant asked the court to apply Sharia law but believes it has happened elsewhere.

“We’re seeing more of a feeling that Sharia law should be applied in domestic cases,” he said, such as divorces.

The chairman of the House Judiciary panel, Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, has signed on as a sponsor but hedged when asked whether he supports the bill.

“I want to see what comes up in hearings,” Willard said, to answer this question: “Does it serve a real purpose or is that standard [that federal and state laws trump foreign laws] already recognized by courts in the state?”

M. Khurram Baig, a litigator with Kumar, Prabhu, Patel & Banerjee in Atlanta and a member of the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers, said the answer is no: “I don’t know of any instance where foreign law has prevailed in a Georgia court ever. So why is this necessary?”

“On its face,” he added, the bill “sounds fairly benign, fairly neutral. But given the political climate and timing, it’s fair to say it brings to bear the popular concerns that Sharia law will infiltrate America and is part of the Islamaphobia wave.”

Jacobs said he disagrees with the accusation of Islamaphobia.

“The bills speaks for itself on its merits,” he said.

Supporters and critics have mentioned a 2010 case in New Jersey in which a Moroccan man accused of domestic violence claimed a religious right to have nonconsenual sex his wife. But the state’s appeals court overturned the ruling of a superior court judge that the husband engaged in conduct constituting sexual assault but did not have the requisite criminal intent in doing so, finding that the man’s cultural and religious beliefs did not trump state statutes outlawing rape.

William E. Raftery, a research analyst for the National Center for State Courts, is tracking similar legislation being considered in about seven other states.

The first was in Oklahoma, where legislators called for a referendum in November 2010 banning Islamic law in state courtrooms. More than two-thirds of voters there passed the measure, but a federal judge issued an injunction a few days later blocking it, finding it posed a First Amendment infringement.

Raftery says Georgia’s bill appears to be like a “cut and paste” of the ones drafted in Tennessee, Louisiana and South Carolina.

“There are two different flavors. One is like Oklahoma’s, which specifically mentions Sharia law and calls for a constitutional amendment and bars recognizing the law of other states if they adopt Sharia law,” Raftery said. “The other is like Tennessee’s, which was the first state to propose a statutory change and didn’t mention Sharia. It just says ‘foreign laws.’”

Isam Salah, head of King & Spalding’s Middle East and Islamic Finance Practice Group, said he views the bill as a fearful reaction to the Islamic faith but maintains it won’t directly affect his practice.

“All investment and financing agreements we are drafting are U.S. law-governed documents,” he said. “Clients sometimes come to us and say, ‘Can this transaction be under Georgia law with the provision that it also be subject to Sharia law?’ And we say no.”

But Salah said he is concerned that HB 45 would advance the view among some Americans “that anything that is Islamic-related is evil. And people hearing about this [in predominantly Muslim countries] could be saying, ‘Maybe the U.S. is not the most hospitable place for our investments.’”

Salah noted that in New York, where he practices, legislators are considering tweaking tax laws to make them more acceptable to Sharia-compliant investments, namely Islamic bonds called sukuk.

Jacobs said he understands the concern but believes “Georgia courts ought to be in the business of making sure the law applied in Georgia courts meets minimal constitutional standards.”

Michael J. Broyde, academic director of Emory University’s law and religion program, said he thinks “the consequences of the bill have not been well thought out” partly because its restrictions on arbitrators and choice of venue would “incapacitate Georgia companies as they engage in international commerce.”

A bigger problem, he added, is that the bill “violates the Federal Arbitration Act and becomes an unconstitutional exercise of state authority.”

“Arbitration is a routine business exercise by people who are prepared to sacrifice some of their constitutional rights in return for reduced cost and expediency,” said Broyde, who also is an ordained rabbi and member of the Beth Din of America — the largest Jewish law court in the country.

Banning people from “willingly submitting to an ecclesiastical tribunal” is “inconsistent with traditional American practice.”

Jacobs said he’s hoping to resolve any perceived problems in Judiciary Committee meetings.

“I’m certainly willing to hear from practitioners who have concerns about specific applications of the bill as it is introduced.”

 

Tulsa: Man Charged with Hate Crime, Threatening Islamic School

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Islamophobia, what Islamophobia?

Tulsa: man charged with hate crime, threatening Islamic school

(Islamophobia-watch)

A Tulsa man faces a hate-crime charge on allegations that he sent an intimidating letter to the Islamic Peace Academy and posted a video online showing him desecrating a Quran, court records show. Jesse Quinn Harrison, 33, was charged Tuesday with one count each of transmitting a threatening letter and malicious intimidation or harassment – what Oklahoma statutes call a hate crime.

According to the charges, Harrison is accused of sending a nine-page letter to the Peace Academy, a private school for Muslim children in Tulsa, “with the intent to intimidate.” He also made a video that shows him “smearing pork on the Quran and an Islamic religious figure and grilling those items,” according to the charge. The charge states that the video was made to “produce violence directed to others because of their religious beliefs.”

A man with the same name and Tulsa address as those listed on the charges posted on Facebook a YouTube video that matches the one described in the charges. The 5½-minute video, posted to YouTube on Oct. 1, is attributed there to a “Rockwell Porter” – a name the charges list as an alias for Harrison. The video and a brief anti-Islamic message were posted by Harrison’s account on several additional Facebook pages, including those of the White House and the FBI. On a Dec. 15 Facebook entry, Harrison threatens to “march on the Tulsa Islamic Mosque” on New Year’s Eve.

Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he didn’t know any details of the case, but he said more hostile rhetoric toward Islam has recently worked its way into the mainstream. “The rhetoric has not helped,” Awad said. “It has forced people to take an extreme stance.”

However, he said that although any threat should be taken seriously, cases such as Harrison’s are on the fringe. Many non-Muslims in Oklahoma have good relationships with the Muslim community, he said. “Whenever instances like this come up, we always have friends from the non-Muslim community to help,” Awad said.

Tulsa World, 30 December 2010

 

More States Enter Debate on Sharia’ Law

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by loonwatch

Hate rolls on.

More states enter debate on sharia law

By Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY

Muneer Awad’s opponents label him “a foreigner” trying to change Oklahoma’s laws.
Awad, 27, a recent University of Georgia law school graduate born in Michigan, says he’s standing up for the U.S. Constitution. “I’m trying to defend the First Amendment,” says Awad, director of Oklahoma’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

At issue is an amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution passed overwhelmingly on Election Day that bars judges from considering Islamic or international law in Oklahoma state courts. Awad sued, and last week a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while she determines whether it violates the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits establishment of a state religion.

Although Oklahoma’s law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Tennessee and Louisiana have enacted versions of the law banning use of foreign law under certain circumstances.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House, is pushing for a federal law that “clearly and unequivocally states that we’re not going to tolerate any imported law.”

Based on Quran

Islamic law or sharia, which means “path” in Arabic, is a code of conduct governing all aspects of Muslim life, including family relationships, business dealings and religious obligations. It is based on the Quran, or Muslim holy book, and the teachings of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Islamic countries operating under the guidance of sharia may have varying interpretations of the code.

Awad says the Oklahoma law would prohibit a judge from probating his will, written in compliance with Islamic principles, or adjudicating other domestic matters such as divorces and custody disputes involving Muslims.

Supporters of sharia bans, including Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, say Islamic law is creeping into U.S. courts.

Earlier this year, for example, an appeals court in New Jersey overturned a state court judge’s refusal to issue a restraining order against a Muslim man who forced his wife to engage in sexual intercourse. The judge found that the man did not intend to rape his wife because he believed his religion permitted him to have sex with her whenever he desired.

The case “presents a conflict between the criminal law and religious precepts,” the appeals court wrote. “In resolving this conflict, the judge determined to except (the husband) from the operation of the State’s statutes as the result of his religious beliefs. In doing so, the judge was mistaken.”

Gaffney’s think tank recently published a book that argues jihadists who want worldwide Islamic rule try to establish sharia courts to weaken democracies. “I think you’re seeing people coalesce around legislation of the kind that was passed in Oklahoma,” Gaffney says.

South Carolina legislators proposed a resolution in April that says state courts “shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider Sharia Law” or other international laws.

In Utah, Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Salt Lake County, withdrew his bill to ban foreign law after he learned that it could harm banking and international businesses. “My bill was just too broad,” he says.

Wimmer says he’s concerned about “increasing amount of judges who continue to look to foreign law and foreign courts to make their decisions.”

“It’s not an issue in Utah,” he says, “but I wanted to make sure it doesn’t become an issue in Utah.”

‘Just fear mongering’

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, sees the laws as an indication of growing anti-Muslim sentiment. “I’ve never seen it like this, even after 9/11,” Hooper says. “In another time, this would be laughed out of the Oklahoma Legislature.”

Islamic principles are interpreted differently in different parts of the world, Hooper says. “We have not found any conflict between what a Muslim needs to do to practice their faith and the Constitution or any other American laws,” Hooper says. “We are, in fact, relying on the Constitution as our last line of defense.”

Americans have no reason to fear sharia law in America, says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which advocates for religious freedom.

However, Lynn says he expects to see more attempts to ban sharia law regardless of the outcome in Oklahoma.

“It’s just fear mongering tinged with anti-Islamic sentiment,” he says.

Oklahoma’s attorney general will ask an appeals court to lift the injunction and allow the law to take effect.

Constitutional expert Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at University of California-Irvine, says the Oklahoma law won’t stand because it discriminates against one religion and violates the requirement for “full faith and credit,” which requires Oklahoma courts to enforce judgments from other states and countries.

“There is no blossoming of sharia law in Oklahoma,” says Randall Coyne, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. “There’s no risk of Oklahoma falling under the sway of sharia law or any other law other than American law for that matter. It’s fear mongering at its worst.”

 

Pamela Geller Watch: “Kill the Scum”

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by loonwatch

On Monday Pamela Geller responded to the Constitutional victory for freedom of religion that struck down the Oklahoma anti-Sharia’ and unicorns measure with the usual shrill cries that it was the end of America and a “blow to freedom.”

She accused the Judge of being “ignorant.” She also wailed on about how all the judge had to do was look at Europe to see how Sharia’ is slowly taking over, “She only had to look to Europe and the UK to witness how sharia is slowly intorduced into free societies.”

Pamela also approved a comment that can still be viewed on her blog, “BLOW TO FREEDOM: JUDGE BLOCKS OKLAHOMA SHARIA BAN” (yes thats all Caps), which called for the death of “scum” (i.e. Muslims),

David Biograd said…
Absolutely. The scum must die then they need to die some more.
Maybe.
Eh.
I wish…

Oh no there’s no Islamophobia here! And then they wonder where violent attacks against Muslims come from?

I wonder if that arch hypocrite Spencer, who a week ago complained that Spencerwatch.com had approved a comment that called him a “cancer” will “refudiate” his pal Geller for approving a comment a million times worse than any on Spencerwatch or Loonwatch? Will he call on her to take down the comment? That is the very least he can do, but why would he since he publishes comments as egregious if not more so on his own website and on the SIOA page, but don’t hold your breath.

 

A Victory for the Constitution: OK Injunction Struck Down

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by loonwatch

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange has strongly stated that the so called “anti-Sharia” measure is an affront to the Constitution. A sad day for fear-mongerers like Robert SpencerPamela Geller and others who wished to foster hate of Muslims. Special shame on the politicians who attempted to ride the wave of Islam-bashing to populist success.

Judge rules in favor of Muslim man on State Question 755; Injunction filed

BY NOLAN CLAY

A federal judge today issued a preliminary injunction that keeps a restriction against Islamic Sharia law out of the Oklahoma Constitution for now.

In a 15-page order, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled in favor of an Oklahoma City Muslim who complained the new constitutional amendment would violate his religious freedom.

Oklahomans on Nov. 2 approved the amendment — in State Question 755 — with more than 70 percent of the vote. The amendment forbids state courts from using or considering international law or Islamic Sharia law in making decisions.

Muneer Awad, 27, quickly challenged the amendment, saying it demonizes his faith. Awad is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma.

The judge on Nov. 8 agreed to a temporary restraining order barring the state Election Board from certifying the SQ 755 results. Her order today means the Election Board is barred indefinitely from certifying the results.

In today’s order, the judge wrote that Awad “has made a strong showing that State Question 755′s amendment’s primary effect inhibits religion and that the amendment fosters an excessive government entanglement with religion.”

The judge also wrote: “This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our (U.S.) Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights. Throughout the course of our country’s history, the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals, an occurrence which our founders foresaw and provided for through the Bill of Rights.”

Read more: http://newsok.com/judge-rules-in-favor-of-muslim-man-on-state-question-755-injunction-filed/article/3519080#ixzz16hxM0T35

 

NYT: Intolerance and the Law in Oklahoma

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by loonwatch

Intolerance and the Law in Oklahoma

(Editorial)

For a few days this month, it was illegal in Oklahoma for a state judge to base a court decision on Islamic religious law or consider any form of international law. It was a manufactured problem; the issue has never come up in the state’s courts. But more than 70 percent of voters in Oklahoma still approved a state constitutional amendment to that effect, apparently persuaded by anti-Islamic activists, and a few cynical politicians, that Oklahoma was about to be brought under Islam’s heel.

After Muslim groups challenged the constitutionality of the “Save Our State Amendment,” a federal district judge issued a temporary restraining order. Last Monday, the judge, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, held a hearing to determine whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the measure, and said she would make a decision by the end of November. A federal injunction is warranted to save Oklahoma from its pernicious folly and to prevent other states from following the same path.

Islam-bashing for political gain was a chilling feature of this year’s campaign. The proposed Islamic center and mosque in downtown Manhattan was publicly announced last year, but no one paid much attention until activists began loudly denouncing it in the middle of the midterm election campaign. Right-wing groups then made commercials attacking several Democratic candidates for respecting the First Amendment and saying they had no problems with the project.

Islamic law, known as Shariah, is no threat to our legal system and is not in force anywhere in the United States except within a religious community, in the same manner as Jewish Halakhic law or Catholic canon law.

Nonetheless, supporters of the amendment raised absurd fears that it could entangle the American courts at any minute. Rex Duncan, a Republican state representative and the author of the ballot measure, told The Los Angeles Times that Oklahoma does not yet have that problem. “But why wait until it’s in the courts?” he asked. He has also said that Muslims want to take away American liberties and freedom.

It is fear-mongering, of course, and all too successful. As James McKinley Jr. recentlyreported in The Times, the issue helped drive the high Republican turnout at the polls in Oklahoma.

That, combined with the national Republican wave, helped give the party veto-proof control of the Legislature and a Republican governor for the first time. Now Republicans in several other states are talking about similar measures. Muslim leaders in Oklahoma say they are getting more hate mail.

It’s bad enough that in its hatred the state amendment singles out a religion’s law for condemnation, in violation of the nation’s Constitution. Or that it forbids a longstanding practice of mentioning the laws of other nations in a legal ruling. It is not even clear what the implications might be if the courts allowed this measure.

Would private contracts or wills drawn up under religious law, a common practice, be unenforceable, or only those drawn up by Muslims? Could a judge refer to the Bible in a ruling, but not the Koran? How about the Book of Mormon or the teachings of Confucius?

The voters of Oklahoma were badly misled by demagogues into passing a profoundly un-American measure. Now it is up to the federal courts to prevent the hatred from spreading further.