Oklahoma Says No to Sharia

Oklahoma Says No to Sharia

Posted
By Daniel Pipes On November 19, 2010 @ 12:02 am In FrontPage | 23
Comments

[Editor’s
note: the following article was originally published at
National Review Online [1].]

As Americans
learn more about Islam, the aspect they find most objectionable is not its
theology (such as whether Allah is God
or not
[2]) nor its symbolism (such as an Islamic cultural
center in lower Manhattan) but its law code,
called the Sharia. Rightly, they say no to a code that privileges Muslims over non-Muslims [3]men over women [4], and contains many elements
inimical to modern life.

Newt Gingrich [5], former speaker of the U.S. House
of Representatives, gave the danger of Sharia unprecedented public attention in
July when he blasted its “principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the
Western world” and called for a federal law that “says no court anywhere in the
United States under any circumstance is allowed to consider Sharia as a
replacement for American law.”

Despite some stirrings
[6] in this direction, no such federal law exists. But legislatures
in two states,Tennessee [7] and Louisiana [8], recently passed laws effectively
blocking applications of Sharia that violate existing laws and public policy.
And, in a referendum on Nov. 2, the voters in Oklahoma likewise voted 70 to
30 percent to amend their state constitution.

Although
applauded by moderate Muslims such as Zuhdi Jasser
[9], passage of the “Save Our State Amendment” alarmed Islamists.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, accurately accused of [10]
aiming “to overthrow constitutional government in the United States,” nevertheless
convinced a federal district judge to impose a temporary restraining order [11] on the state
election board from certifying the amendment.

A full court
hearing could helpfully stimulate further public debate over applying the
Sharia. In this spirit, let’s look more closely at the just-passed Oklahoma amendment, State
Question 755. It limits Oklahoma courts to relying
exclusively “on federal and state law when deciding cases.” Conversely, it
rejects “international law” in general and it specifically “forbids courts from
considering or using Sharia Law,” where it defines the latter as Islamic law
“based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.”

Popular
criticism of the amendment vacillates between two contradictory responses,
claiming it’s either discriminatory or superfluous.

Discriminatory? While the wording is indeed problematic
(international law cannot possibly be banned; and the Sharia should not be
singled out by name), State Question 755 correctly insists that judges base
their judgments solely on U.S.
law. Contrary to rumor, the amendment does not ban Sharia outside the court
system: Muslims may wash, pray, eat, drink, play, swim, woo, marry, reproduce,
bequeath, etc., according to the tenets of their religion. Thus does the
amendment not harm American Muslims.

Superfluous?
No research informs us how often American judges rely on the Sharia to reach
judgments but a provisional inquiry turns up 17 instances in 11 states [12]. Perhaps most
notorious is the New Jersey ruling [13]that concerned a married
Muslim couple from Morocco. The wife related that
the husband repeatedly forced her to have sex on the grounds that, quoting him,
“this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to
you.” In brief, the Muslim husband claimed Sharia sanction for raping his wife.

The trial
judge agreed with him: “The court believes that he was operating under his belief
that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted
to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something
that was not prohibited.” Based on that, the judge ruled in June 2009 that no
sexual assault had been proven.

An appellate
court reversed this ruling in July 2010, on the grounds that the husband’s
“conduct in engaging in nonconsensual sexual intercourse was unquestionably
knowing, regardless of his view that his religion permitted him to act as he
did.” In Newt Gingrich’s more astringent analysis, the trial judge was
“unwilling to impose American law on somebody who’s clearly abusing somebody.”

Then there
looms the alarming example of Great Britain, where two of the country’s ranking
figures, the archbishop of Canterbury [14] and the lord chief justice [15], have endorsed a role for
Sharia alongside British common law, and where a network of
Sharia courts
[16] already operates.

Neither
discriminatory nor superfluous, laws that banish the Sharia are essential to
preserving the Constitutional order from what Barack Obama [17] has called the “hateful
ideologies of radical Islam.” The American Public Policy Alliance has crafted model
legislation
[18] that Oklahoma’s and 47 other state
legislatures should pass.

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