Thursday, January 13, 2011

Human Rights: Indiana Lawmaker Will Not Introduce Anti-Sharia Bill

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today that Indiana State Representative Bruce Borders will not introduce an anti-Sharia bill in the Indiana General Assembly.

Borders had previously been quoted by a local newspaper as saying he "intended to file a bill in the Indiana House to prevent the recognition of Sharia law in Indiana courts." In late December, CAIR's Chicago and national offices sent a joint letter to all state lawmakers asking them not to consider what it termed a "fear-mongering" bill.

SEE: Sharia Law Not an Issue in Indiana

Muslim Group Urges Rejection of Anti-Sharia Bill

In a recent phone conversation with CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, Rep. Borders said that an interview he gave a local newspaper was taken out of context. Rep. Borders says he was merely discussing a "wish list" with the reporter that included a possible bill excluding consideration of foreign laws. He acknowledged discussing Sharia, but only when asked by the reporter.

"I regret being pulled into this issue because I never had the intention of targeting Indiana's Muslim constituents specifically," said Rep. Borders. "I believe all Americans have the right to freedom of religion and that Muslims should not be targeted for discriminatory measures."

"We welcome the opportunity for open dialogue and are happy to help Representative Borders clear the air on the issue of the reported anti-Sharia bill," said Rehab.

Rehab noted that current legislation ensures the supremacy of federal and state laws and that an anti-Sharia bill would have been redundant.

"Contrary to popular misconceptions promoted in some political circles, the observance of Islamic principles by American Muslims pertains to private matters such as marriage and business contracts, and does not impact federal or state laws or affect the affairs of other citizens," said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas.

Abbas added that this private observance of religious principles is in line with the constitutionally-protected rights practiced by Americans of other faiths.

Rep. Borders said that there would be no anti-Sharia bill. Another bill, HB 1078, proposed by Rep. Cynthia Noe would prohibit the application of foreign law by Indiana courts and void portions of contracts calling for the application of foreign law. Rep. Borders said that he had not yet read the bill.

Some legal experts find the language of HB 1078 constitutionally problematic for reasons not related to the practice of the Muslim faith -- such as the bill's potential interference with international business transactions.

"We will continue to monitor the progress of HB 1078 because we are concerned that it will adversely affect the constitutional rights of many citizens of Indiana, regardless of their faith," Abbas said.

Abbas noted that the head of CAIR's Oklahoma chapter was successful in blocking certification of an anti-Sharia amendment to that state's constitution.

SEE: Judge Rules in Favor of Muslim Man on State Question 755

Lawmakers in other states are introducing similar bills.

SEE: Texas Legislator Seeks Ban on Sharia Law

Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations