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.

 

Why American Indians Are Watching The Fate Of The Oklahoma Sharia Ban

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2010 by loonwatch

Why American Indians Are Watching The Fate Of The Oklahoma Sharia Ban

(TPMuckracker)

by Rachel Slajda

So far, the outrage over the so-called Sharia ban Oklahoma voters approved this month has focused on the freedom of religion of the state’s Muslim residents, culminating in a lawsuit by a CAIR official that has successfully stalled the law from going into effect.

But there’s another minority the ban could affect: American Indians.

The proposed constitutional amendment, approved by voters in a 70-30 margin, would prohibit state courts from considering not only Sharia law, but international law — defined as the law of other “countries, states and tribes.”

Oklahoma has a relatively large population of American Indians, who make up about eight percent of the state population, compared to one percent of the country as a whole. Part of the reason so many Indians live in the state is forced relocation programs like the Trail of Tears, which moved tribes from land in the Deep South to what the federal government had designated Indian territory in Oklahoma.

It’s possible the amendment could affect how disputes between Indians and non-Indians are settled in state courts, as well as the many historic treaties between tribes and the U.S.

Last year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that personal injury lawsuits, filed by non-Indian casino patrons, could be tried in state court. It’s still messy, though: Several tribes have entered arbitration with the state over the rulings, and some of their motions are still pending.

And then there are the treaties between the state’s tribes and the federal government. The ban specifically defines international treaties as a “source of international law.” So how would the Indian treaties be treated?

No one really knows, yet. Tribes and tribal lawyers are waiting to see what happens, mostly voicing private concerns but no official positions.

“It wouldn’t seem like it would be legal,” Chris White, director of governmental affairs for the Osage Nation, told Indian Country Today. “I’m not an attorney, but that’s the reason why the people I’ve talked to about it are concerned. They’re concerned about the treaties.”

Barbara Warner, the executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, told the Norman Transcript she’s heard concerns that the law could be “detrimental” to the tribes.

An Oklahoma University law professor, Taiawagi Helton, who specializes in tribal law, told the Transcriptthe language is too “ambiguous” and allows ways for the “opportunistic” to avoid tribal law that would hurt their case. But he added that he believes the law will be struck down.

“The likely effect is it won’t have much effect at all,” he said.

The amendment is barred from going into effect until Nov. 29, when a federal judge will rule on CAIR’s legal challenge.

 

Arguments to take place in Oklahoma over ban on Islamic law in courts

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by loonwatch

(CNN) — A federal judge will hear arguments Monday on a temporary restraining order against an Oklahoma referendum that would ban the use of Islamic religious law in state courts.

Oklahoma voters approved the amendment during the November elections by a 7-3 ratio. But the Council on American-Islamic Relations challenged the measure as a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order November 8 that will keep state election officials from certifying that vote.

“What this amendment is going to do is officially disfavor and condemn the Muslim community as being a threat to Oklahoma,” Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter and the lead plaintiff in the suit, said earlier this month. In addition, he said, the amendment would invalidate private documents, such as wills, that are written in compliance with Muslim law.

The amendment would require Oklahoma courts to “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and “forbids courts from considering or using” either international law or Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, which the amendment defined as being based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

In bringing suit, CAIR argued that the amendment violates both the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. Awad has said the amendment passed “under a campaign of fearmongering” about Islam.

The entire U.S. Muslim population is about 2.4 million — less than 1 percent of the country, according to a 2009 survey by the nonprofit Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

But supporters said a New Jersey case, in which a judge refused to grant a restraining order against a Muslim man whose wife accused him of raping her repeatedly, made it necessary for Oklahoma to take action to keep Islamic law from being imposed there.

The New Jersey decision, in which the family court judge found the husband was abiding by his Muslim beliefs regarding spousal duties, was overruled by an appellate court.

But in automated phone messages in support of the amendment, former CIA Director and Oklahoma native James Woolsey warned that there was a “major campaign in Europe to impose Sharia law” and that Islamic law “is beginning to be cited in a few U.S courts.”

 

A Majority of Oklahomans View Islam Unfavorably

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by loonwatch

This might shed light on why the Sharia’ measure passed.

(Tulsa World)
By RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer

A majority of Oklahomans believe Islam is a violent religion that is far removed from Christianity, the most recent Oklahoma Poll found.

The survey, taken before voters overwhelmingly approved a state question banning Islamic Shariah law from state courts, revealed that fewer than one-quarter of Oklahomans have a favorable opinion of the Muslim religion.

Fifty-eight percent said Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, and 61 percent said Muslims don’t worship the same God as Christians.

More than half agreed that Muslims should have the same rights as others to build houses of worship in local communities. However, 36 percent said local communities should have the right to prevent construction of houses of worship if they do not want them.

“I’m leery of any group that wants to kill Americans,” said poll respondent Janie Lloyd of Fort Gibson.

“Do I believe all Muslims want to kill Americans? Of course not,” said Lloyd. “But you’ve got to be vigilant on certain things. When someone says they want to kill you, you have to listen. Timothy McVeigh was an American citizen, and look what he did.”

McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.

More than anything, though, Lloyd seemed frustrated.

“I want them to be American,” she said. “I want them to act like American citizens. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Upon hearing the poll results, Luanne Butler of Tulsa said, “In a way it’s not surprising, but in a way it is disheartening to make sweeping generalizations about people called Muslim.”

Butler said there is “a lack of openness and also a pervasive element whispering (in) our ear that (Muslims) don’t have good intentions, that they want to take over, invade.”

She said the vote on State Question 755, banning the use of Shariah law in state courts, represented Oklahomans, saying, “So there. We don’t want interference from outside.”

Lloyd acknowledged that Shariah law has never entered into an Oklahoma court case and appears to have affected only one decision – a decision quickly overturned – in the entire country.

But, she said, she thinks the state question was a good idea.

“Look what’s going on in Europe,” she said. “They’re trying to dig themselves out of those people taking over.”

Muslims now make up sizable minorities in several European countries, including Germany and France. In the United Kingdom, Shariah courts can be used to settle civil disputes – technically, through arbitration – if all parties agree.

Islam is derived from the same monotheistic tradition as Judaism and Christianity. In the Quran, Islam’s holy book, Jesus Christ is described as a great messenger of God.

The majority of Oklahoma Christians, however, apparently reject the notion that the two religions have common roots. In the Oklahoma Poll sample, 83 percent of those who said they attend religious services more than once a week said Muslims worship a different God than Christians.

Three-quarters of those identifying themselves as evangelical Christians said Muslims worship a different God.

Feelings about the Muslim religion were also reflected in political affiliations and affinities. Seventy-two percent of those supporting Gov.-elect Mary Fallin said Islam promotes violence, compared with 46 percent of those who supported Jari Askins, the loser in the Nov. 2 election.

Oklahomans’ opinion of President Barack Obama also found expression in the poll questions about Islam. Fully one-third said they believe Obama is Muslim. Half said he is not.

“I don’t think he’s a Muslim,” said Marilyn Allen of Broken Arrow. She suspects Obama is “mixed up” because of his unusual childhood and “wants to please everyone,” including Muslim nations.

“I really don’t like the way he kowtows to them,” she said.

“But I’m more worried about the communist part than the Muslim part.”

Almost half the Republicans surveyed said they think Obama is a Muslim – and more than one-fifth of Democrats agreed.

Butler laughed at the notion.

“He’s not a Muslim,” she said. “He’s not anything. He’s a golfer.”

In general, would you say your opinion of the Muslim religion is:

Very favorable …………………………7%
Somewhat favorable………………16%
Neutral/no opinion…………………21%
Somewhat unfavorable …………22%
Very unfavorable……………………34%

(Numbers have been rounded)

Do you think Muslims worship the same God as Christians?

Worship same God……… 25%
Don’t worship same God…..61%
Don’t know/refused………14%

Which comes closer to your view:

The Muslim religion is more likely than others to encourage violence ……..58%
The Muslim religion does not encourage violence more than others …………29%
Don’t know/refused ……..13%

Do you think President Obama is a Muslim?

Yes…………………………………34%
No………………………………… 50%
Don’t know/refused…….. 16%

(Numbers have been rounded)

About the poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific telephone survey of 753 likely Oklahoma voters Oct. 18-23. The poll includes 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents selected randomly from those who have established a frequent voting pattern.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.57 percentage points.

The poll is sponsored by the Tulsa World.

Original Print Headline: Sooners have low opinion of Islam

 

Muneer Awad on Rachel Maddow: “OK Ban Unconstitutional”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by loonwatch
Muneer Awad

Muneer Awad, the Executive Director of CAIR-OK was on the Rachel Maddow show discussing the Oklahoma amendment that seeks to ban Sharia’.

 

The Muslim Hordes Have Reached the Gates of Tulsa

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by loonwatch

US judge bars Oklahoma measure that targets Sharia law (AFP)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has granted a temporary block to a new law approved last week in Oklahoma that bars state courts from considering international or Islamic law, after opponents challenged it on constitutional grounds.

The amendment to the state’s constitution, approved by over 70 percent of voters in mid-term elections, was to be temporarily stayed after the judge ruled Monday in favor of challenger Muneer Awad, a Muslim resident of the state and local chapter head for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“The amendment it will make once certified is a gross transgression of the establishment clause,” Awad said in his lawsuit, asserting the measure violates the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s clause that bars the government from making laws “respecting the establishment of religion.”

His lawsuit stated the measure is aimed at ensuring “Oklahoma?s courts are not used to ‘undermine those founding (Judeo-Christian) principles,’” and goes even further to denigrate Awad’s standing in the community by transforming the state constitution “into an enduring condemnation of plaintiff?s faith.”

The amendment, the lawsuit added, “singles out plaintiff’s faith, but no other faith, for special restrictions.”

CAIR, which is gearing up for a full hearing into the law on November 22, said Oklahoma’s move would prevent courts in the state from “from implementing international agreements, honoring international arbitrations, honoring major international human rights treaties.”

The measure was one of hundreds of referendums held across the country in the November 2 including votes on cannabis legalization and puppy farms. It was specifically intended to harm “an unpopular minority,” Awad said in his lawsuit.

“The goal was to stigmatize Islam by establishing in the public?s mind that Islam is something foreign and to be feared,” he said.

YoungTurks Take:

Spencer Wrong Again: OK amendment will ban religious arbitration

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by loonwatch
Spencer is a scholar of getting it wrong

The “scholar” Robert Spencer said the following in reply to comments made by Asma Uddin, an attorney for the Beckett Fund, that the Oklahoma ban on Shariah will end religious arbitration:

To be sure, Uddin also argued against the wisdom of the measure itself, although in doing so she misrepresented it, speaking as if Oklahoma had outlawed Sharia as a matter of voluntary private arbitration. That was actually off the point, since the use of Sharia provisions in private arbitration doesn’t constitute the use of a law other than American law to legislate for Americans, which is what the Oklahoma anti-Sharia measure is all about.

Does he ever get anything right?

A sponsor of the amendment, Rex Duncan, said that ending religious arbitration to prevent shariah from being used in Oklahoma courts is one of the main reasons he sponsored this amendment. Doh!

Rex Duncan, a Republican state representative in Oklahoma and a sponsor of the amendment, has explained that part of its purpose is to ban religious forms of arbitration: “Parties would come to the courts and say we want to be bound by Islamic law and then ask the courts to enforce those agreements. That is a backdoor way to get Sharia law into courts. There … have been some efforts, I believe, to explore bringing that to America, and it’s dangerous.”

The “scholar” Robert Spencer is wrong again – speaking up before he got all the facts. Not only does this new amendment hamper Muslims who might want to arbitrate according to their religious law, but it will also hinder other faith groups from doing so as well. Religious arbitration among citizens is as old as apple pie in U.S. legal history. But don’t let that get in the way of amending your state’s constitution so you can demonize the less than 1% of Muslims who live in your state!

A law we don’t need by Michael A. Helfand (LA Times)

Oklahomans have a plan to save the country. It doesn’t address the reverberations of the financial crisis or outline a way to pay for social services on a limited budget. Instead, they’ve fashioned a “preemptive strike” against Islamic law in the United States. Last week, 70% of Oklahoma’s electorate approved this amendment to the state’s Constitution: “The [Oklahoma] Courts … when exercising their judicial authority … shall not consider international law or Sharia Law.”

Oklahoma isn’t alone. Arizona is considering a bill that would prohibit state judges from “rely[ing] on any body of religious sectarian law or foreign law,” and a similar bill has just been introduced in the South Carolina Legislature. Whether more states will hop on the bandwagon may depend on the outcome of a lawsuit filed in Oklahoma federal district court that contends that the amendment violates the 1st Amendment. But the amendment is not just of dubious constitutionality; it’s dangerous and unnecessary on the merits.

Rex Duncan, a Republican state representative in Oklahoma and a sponsor of the amendment, has explained that part of its purpose is to ban religious forms of arbitration: “Parties would come to the courts and say we want to be bound by Islamic law and then ask the courts to enforce those agreements. That is a backdoor way to get Sharia law into courts. There … have been some efforts, I believe, to explore bringing that to America, and it’s dangerous.”

In reality, such arbitration is well established. For nearly half a century, Jewish, Christian and Muslim tribunals have operated in the United States in concert with government courts. These tribunals preside over matters of religious ritual and also apply religious law to a wide range of disputes between individuals and even commercial entities. Parties, in keeping with shared beliefs and values, can voluntarily agree to submit employment, divorce, contractual and various other types of disputes for resolution. State and federal courts currently treat such religious tribunals as they do all other arbitration panels that litigants can seek out as an alternative to going to court. And, as long as the tribunal and its decisions meet certain standards, government courts routinely “confirm” them — that is, render them legally enforceable.

To some, the prospect that the “Save Our State” amendment could challenge this process would be a positive development. In fact, if we were to buy into some of the characterizations propounded by some pundits and politicians, we might think that religious arbitration could force U.S. courts to allow dismemberment or stoning as a form of punishment. But if the awards of religious tribunals are to be enforced in court, the hearings must comply with various procedural requirements, the arbitration agreements cannot be unconscionable, and the awards cannot contravene state and federal laws. Indeed, under the aptly titled “public policy exception,” courts cannot enforce any arbitration award, including one issued by a religious tribunal, that undermines U.S. public policies.

For example, parties before a religious tribunal have a right to an attorney that cannot be waived. The tribunal must give notice to the parties regarding all hearings. And it must accept all relevant evidence and allow parties to cross-examine witnesses.

When it comes to the decisions themselves, just as a court cannot enforce a contract to hire a hit man, a court cannot enforce an arbitration award that requires something such as stoning or caning. Nor could a court confirm a religious tribunal’s child custody decision without making its own independent determination as to what was in the best interests of the child. In the words of a New York court, “An arbitration award that deprives a party of a constitutional right to seek redress or protection in a civil or criminal matter is against public policy.”

But that alone isn’t a reason to maintain the tradition of religious arbitration. This form of justice sometimes provides legal redress that the state and federal courts cannot.

Consider a case in which a pastor, imam or rabbi is given a lifetime contract (a relatively common practice) that allows his or her congregation to terminate his or her employment only for cause. Somewhere down the line, the congregation decides that its religious leader is no longer doing the job. Accordingly, the congregation terminates the contract. But the pastor, imam or rabbi might very well disagree that there was cause for the dismissal. Where does he or she go to bring that claim?

The answer is not in state or federal court. The establishment clause of the 1st Amendment prohibits government courts from rendering a view regarding religious doctrine. And deciding what the appropriate responsibilities of a pastor or imam or rabbi are, and whether they have been fulfilled, would generally amount to rendering such a view. As a result, the court could only dismiss the case. However, the pastor, imam or rabbi could turn to a religious tribunal, and a U.S. court could later confirm the decision and give it legal force.

Legislation banning religious arbitration is deeply misguided. The decisions of religious tribunals are unenforceable unless they comply with public policy. And we need them to address cases that constitutional doctrine prohibits from being litigated in government courts. In the end, allowing state and federal courts to “consider” the findings of religious tribunals for the purposes of “confirmation” doesn’t violate cherished religious freedoms, it enhances them.

Laws like Oklahoma’s “Save Our State” amendment pander to unfounded fears. Instead of saving the nation, they merely add to its list of problems.

Michael A. Helfand is an associate professor of law at Pepperdine University and associate director of the university’s Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies.

 

JihadWatch Supports the Banning of Sharia’ in Oklahoma: Whats next? Unicorns?

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by loonwatch

Election season 2010 provided many interesting and quite scary insights into the relationship between American and Islam. On the good side of things Keith Ellison won re-election by a tremendous 44 point margin. On the other hand, Allen West an outspoken anti-Muslim candidate won election to Congress in Florida’s 22nd district. West believes Islam is not a religion and that we are at war with Islam.

Also on the ballot in Oklahoma was an initiative that seeks to ban “Sharia’” in the state. It is a ginned up initiative that seeks to ban something that doesn’t exist in Oklahoma, which has all of 15,000 Muslim citizens.

Spencer saw the passing of the measure as an indication that Americans are standing up against Muslims and Islam. However he doesn’t see the fact that what Oklahomans actually banned is something that doesn’t exist in their state. What is next, Unicorns?

Colbert expressed it best,

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Colbert Gives You Props
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

 

JihadWatch turning good works into evil

Posted in Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2010 by loonwatch

Marisol, who presumably posts when Spencer is not around, blogged about a Muslim women’s shelter in Tulsa that she titled, Shelter helps abused women in Kabul? No. In Riyadh? No. Where? In Tulsa.

You can’t win with these Islamophobes. First they complain about the domestic violence in the Muslim world and how women have no recourse to shelters, and then they complain about the existence of such shelters arguing that they are indicative of inherent misogyny and violence in Islam and amongst Muslim males.

Marisol asks the question,

Why does such a relatively small population need a dedicated Muslim women’s shelter for domestic abuse?

The truth is about 15 women, most of whom have been Muslim (meaning not all) have been housed at the shelter since it opened. The Muslim population of Tulsa is estimated between 6,000 and 8,000.

Marisol then answers her own question by stating that Islam and the Quran are the problem. Read the rest at Spencerwatch.com.

 

Peace be on you

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by loonwatch

Peace be on you

A backlash against imaginary perils

Jul 8th 2010 | Tulsa

THERE are only 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma, a state of 3.7m people, making them well under 1% of the population. That’s still enough to worry some people, though. Rex Duncan, a Republican member of Oklahoma’s House of Representatives, has just had a measure placed on the November ballot that would ban local courts from considering sharia, or Islamic law, in their judgments, a dubious first for the nation.

Mr Duncan describes his proposed measure, which would also bar courts from considering any other forms of international law, as a “Save Our State” constitutional amendment. He cites Britain, and the alleged readiness of its courts to consider sharia (though in fact it is only applied in some civil and family cases when both parties agree, and the primacy of the law of the land remains paramount in all cases) as an example of how prevalent Islamic law might become. Mr Duncan calls it a “cancer upon the survivability of the UK”, and declares that “this is a war for the survival of America.”

The odd thing is that no one has ever proposed making appeals to sharia in America. But proponents of this and similar measures elsewhere point to the example of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has sometimes cited foreign laws in her opinions on cases before the Supreme Court. Opponents worry that such a measure would bring into question any reference to English statute, for instance Blackstone’s useful “Commentaries on the Law of England”. Since the American legal system was originally based on English common law, that would be an inconvenience.

The latest ballot initiative is hardly unique. Oklahoma has become fertile ground for conservatives. In recent months legislators have also focused on tightening abortion rules and weakening those on guns. A new law forces women to view ultrasound images before their abortions; even Texas balked at that one last year. The ultrasound monitor is put in the patient’s line of sight, and she must also listen to a description of the fetus.

The Republican-controlled legislature also passed a law that would have made any firearms or ammunition manufactured in Oklahoma, and remaining in the state, immune to federal regulations, including federal registration requirements. But the Democratic governor, Brad Henry, vetoed that legislation.

United States