Ban on sharia law

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A ban on sharia law is legislation that would prohibit the application or implementation of Islamic law (sharia) in courts in any civil (non-religious) jurisdiction. In the United States, various states have "banned Sharia law", or passed some kind of ballot measure that "prohibits the states courts from considering foreign, international or religious law." As of 2014 these include Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.[1]

United States[edit]

Constitutional basis[edit]

In 1791, the First Amendment was adopted. The "Establishment Clause" forbade Congress (and later, the states) from passing laws which adopt a state religion or to favor one religion over others. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court explained:

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another ... in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and State' ... That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.[2][page needed]

In June 2009, a family court judge in Hudson County, New Jersey denied a restraining order to a woman who testified that her husband, a Muslim, had forced her to have non-consensual sex. Judge Joseph Charles Jr. said he did not believe the man "had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault" his wife because he was acting in a way that was "consistent with his practices." A state appeals court reversed his decision.[3] Advocates of the ban in the U.S. have cited this case as an example of the need for the ban.[4]

As of 2014 more than two dozen U.S. states have considered measures intended to restrict judges from consulting sharia law. Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Texas[5][6] have "banned sharia" i.e. passed foreign law bans.[1] In 2010 and 2011 more than two dozen states "considered measures to restrict judges from consulting Shariah, or foreign and religious laws more generally".[7] As of 2013 all but 16 states have considered such a law.[1]

In November 2010, voters in Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly to approve a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to ban sharia from state courts.[8][9] The law was then updated to include all foreign or religious laws.[10] The law was challenged by an official of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In November 2010 a federal judge ruled the law to be unconstitutional and blocked the state from putting it into effect.[11][not in citation given][12] The court found the ban had the potential to do harm to Muslims. The invalidation of a Will and testament using sharia instructions was an example.[13] That ruling and injunction were upheld by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 10, 2012.[14]

Missouri also passed a measure banning foreign law in 2013, but Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill "because of its potential impact on international adoptions."[1]

The last two states to "ban sharia" were North Carolina, which prohibited state judges from considering Islamic law in family cases in 2013,[15] and Alabama, where voters passed an Amendment to the State Constitution (72% to 28%) to "ban sharia" in 2014.[16]

Supporters[edit]

David Yerushalmi has been called the founder of the movement in America, and is described by the New York Times as "working with a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials";[7] and to pass legislation, "a network of Tea Party and Christian groups" as well as ACT! for America.[7] According to him, the purpose of the anti-sharia movement is not to pass legislation banning sharia law in the courts, but "to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’”.[7][17]

In 2011 Republican leaders Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann publicly warned about the threat of Shariah law.[17] During the lead-up to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign 2012, he described sharia law as a "mortal threat" and called for its ban throughout America.[18] Sarah Palin has been quoted as saying that if Shariah law “were to be adopted, allowed to govern in our country, it will be the downfall of America.”[7]

Some Republican members of the United States Congress endorsed a new memorandum, based on a Center for Security Policy (CSP) report, Shariah: The Threat to America, at a press conference in the U.S. Capitol.[19]

Analysis of the banning process[edit]

A distinction is made between "demonizing the Islamic faith" which is implied to be "just silliness" is not synonymous with disallowing Sharia law as evidenced by the Christian Coalition of Alabama—one of the state's largest networks of conservative evangelicals. Randy Brinson, the president of the Coalition stated: "Sharia law is not going to be implemented in Alabama, it just isn't....this is a tremendous waste of effort." [1]

According to legal historian Sadakat Kadri, the Ban on Sharia laws notwithstanding, "the precepts of Islamic law ... have judicial force in the United States already", among Muslims who have had a dispute settled by Muslim conciliators. The 1925 Federal Arbitration Act allows Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. to use religious tribunals to arbitrate disagreements and "the judgements that result are given force of law by state and federal courts". The statute "preempts inconsistent state legislation", such as laws to ban Sharia.[20] For Jews, a Beth Din (Rabbinical court) in America "may not merely decide the legal rights of devout Jews; in some cases it may formally forbid believers from pursuing complaints through the secular judicial system without prior authority from a rabbi. And Muslims can also have their inheritance, business, and matrimonial disputes sorted out by Islamic scholars, who attempt to decide them according to the sharia."[20] While the US Congress could in theory repeal the act, it could not ban arbitration by Muslims while leaving other religious conciliators free to continue their work. "Any reform would have to impact equally on all faith communities, and it is not only Muslims who would object if federal legislators presumed to do that."[20]

Canada[edit]

In the province of Ontario there was a "heated 20-month controversy" after Toronto lawyer Syed Mumtaz Ali declared in 2004 that an “Islamic Institute of Civil Justice” would begin "arbitrating family matters on the basis of sharia law", accompanied by a warning that Muslims who did not submit cases to Islamic arbitration panels were (according to Ali) not “good Muslims.”[21] In 2005, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty stated, “There will be no sharia law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians.” This referred to McGuinty's plan to rescind the 1991 Arbitration Act, which made arbitration decisions according to religious laws enforceable in Ontario courts.[21] Opposing Ali were "anti-tribunal" forces of "politically savvy women’s groups, some of them composed of Muslim women", who feared women’s equality rights being violated.[21] In 2006, the province of Ontario banned arbitration of family law disputes under any body of laws except Ontario law, in part to prohibit arbitration under religious laws.[22]

Europe[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Sharia has also become a political issue. A "One law for all" campaign[23] seeks to ban Sharia councils and arguing this is "the only way to end discrimination suffered by Muslim women".[24] In 2015, the Conservative Party Home Secretary Theresa May 'called for an investigation into the application of Sharia law in England and Wales if Conservatives win the General Election. A day later the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, told a radio interviewer, he was opposed to "a Sharia system running in parallel with UK justice."[25]

The issue arose in 2008, when the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams 'suggested it was "inevitable" that elements of Sharia would be incorporated in British law.' Since then, "Sharia courts" have "never been far from tabloid headlines", according to Myriam Francois-Cerrah.[24] As of 2014, there were reported to be around 85 "shariah courts" in the UK,[24][26] operated by two rival services – Islamic Sharia Council and the newer, smaller, less strict Muslim Arbitration Tribunal.[24][27] The councils/tribunals provide arbitration that is voluntary but legally binding, are "officially mandated" and set up outside the court system[27] like another non-secular arbitration institution, the longstanding rabbinical tribunals.[28]

The council/tribunals are defended as providing an essential service for pious Muslims who would simply work with non-government mandated Sharia councils if the government abolished the mandated ones.[24] But they are also criticized for taking the man's side in rulings,[24] for example advising women to forfeit their mahr (marriage dower) in exchange for a divorce.[28][29] According to legal historian Sadakat Kadri, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal has "no jurisdiction over criminal matters or cases involving children." A UK-trained lawyer sits "on all its panels, and every decision" is subject to judicial review – "meaning that it was subject to reversal if it disclosed unfair procedures, human rights violations, or any other step that ordinary court considered contrary to the public interest."[20] According to Kadri, British Muslims neither know nor care about the criminal penalties of Sharia law (tazir and hudud)[20] but seek much less controversial services.

A woman whose husband has abandoned her without speaking the words of release required by the Quran might approach a mufti in search of an annulment. Senior figures in a community will pay visits to the homes of disruptive teenagers to remind them of their religious roots. Muslims who are prudent as well as pious might ask scholars to tell them which mortgage and insurance products are consistent with Islamic jurisprudence.[20]

In addition to the sharia law of the councils and tribunals, there have also been reports of "vigilante sharia squads" in some places, such as Whitechapel, East London.[27][30] The legal system of the United Kingdom treats these squads as criminals.[31][32][33][34][35]

France[edit]

In 2015 some thought there were "no-go zones" in France "where non-Muslims aren't allowed and only Sharia law is enforced"; however, according to Snopes.com this was claim was false.[36] According to anti-Islamist conservative activist Daniel Pipes, such zones are known by "the euphemistic term Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones, with the even more antiseptic acronym ZUS, and there are 751 of them as of last count. They are conveniently listed on one long webpage, complete with street demarcations and map delineations."[37][38] Republican governor of Louisiana in the US, Bobby Jindal warned of the danger of the alleged Sharia no go zones:

In the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home .... It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so called "no-go zone." The idea that a free country would allow for specific areas of its country to operate in an autonomous way that is not free and is in direct opposition to its laws is hard to fathom.[27]

Germany[edit]

Sharia law is part of Germany's private law through the regulations of the German international private law. Its application is limited by the ordre public.

In September 2014, a small group of Muslims wearing mock police uniforms patrolled the streets of the western German city of Wuppertal. They "reportedly hovered around sites like discotheques and gambling houses, telling passers-by to refrain from gambling and alcohol". Following the incident the Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière told the daily newspaper Bild, "Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil." The leader of the "police", Salafist Sven Lau, responded by saying the "Sharia police" "never existed" and he only wanted to "raise attention" to Sharia. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) condemned the activities.[39]

Greece[edit]

The issue of the supremacy of Sharia, if not a ban on it, has arisen in Greece where a Muslim woman (Chatitze Molla Sali), was left her husband's estate in his will (a Greek document registered at a notary’s office) when he died in March 2008. Her in-laws immediately challenged the bequest with the local mufti (a Muslim jurist and theologian) in the name of Sharia law, "which forbids Muslims to write wills" (Islamic law rather than the inheritee determining who gets what from the estate of the deceased).[40] Molla Sali took the dispute to a civil court where she won, but in October 2013, the Greek Supreme Court ruled against her and "established that matters of inheritance among the Muslim minority must be resolved by the mufti, following Islamic laws", in accordance with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Greece and Turkey. Sali has appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.[40]

Muslim-majority countries[edit]

Although Turkey is a Muslim-majority country, since Kemal Atatürk's reforms and the creation of the Republic of Turkey, Sharia law was banned in 1924 and new westernized civil and penal codes were adopted in 1926.[41][42]

In Tunisia some forms of Sharia law were banned.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Farmer, Liz (4 November 2014). "Alabama Joins Wave of States Banning Foreign Laws". governing.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Daniel L. Driesbach (2002). Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State, NYU Press, ISBN 978-0814719350.
  3. ^ "State court throws out religion as defense in case involving husband's non-consensual sex with wife". www.nj.com. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  4. ^ Lott, Maxim (5 August 2010). "Advocates of Anti-Shariah Measures Alarmed by Judge's Ruling". Fox News. 
  5. ^ "Muslims are ANGRY at Texas Mayor After She Stops "Sharia Court"... Here Is Her EPIC Response!". The Political Insider. 24 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "BOOM! Texas BANS Sharia Law and the First Islamic Sharia Court in the USA is NOT Happy!". 
  7. ^ a b c d e Elliott, Andrea (July 30, 2011). "The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2011. 
  8. ^ Ure, Laurie (November 1, 2010). "Oklahoma voters face question on Islamic law". CNN. Retrieved November 9, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Sharia law banned: Oklahoma to become the first U.S. state to veto use of Islamic code". Daily Mail. London. November 2, 2010. 
  10. ^ Tanya Somanader Oklahoma’s New Bill To Block Sharia Law Will Now Ban All Religious Law, Hurt Businesses at ThinkProgress.org blog of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, March 22, 2011
  11. ^ Michel Martin States Move To Ban Islamic Sharia Law at NPR radio network, March 11, 2011
  12. ^ McKinley Jr, James C. (November 29, 2010). "Judge Blocks Oklahoma's Ban on Using Shariah Law in Court". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Oklahoma Sharia law ban 'unconstitutional', court rules retrieved 6 February 2012
  14. ^ Eckholm, Erik (January 10, 2012). "Oklahoma: Court Upholds Blocking of Amendment Against Shariah Law". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ North Carolina becomes 7th state to ban Muslim Sharia law| Desert News| August 28, 2013
  16. ^ Alabama Bans Sharia Law, Even Though it Doesn’t Exist in the State by Robin Marty| by Robin Marty| care2.com| November 10, 2014
  17. ^ a b Gross, Terry (August 9, 2011). "Who's Behind The Movement To Ban Shariah Law?". NPR. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  18. ^ Newt Gingrich: I'd Support A Muslim Running For President Only If They'd Commit To Give Up Sharia Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 February 2012
  19. ^ Daniel Luban Forget 'Ground Zero Mosque', It's the Great Sharia Conspiracy at Inter Press Service September 16, 2011
  20. ^ a b c d e f Kadri, Sadakat (2012). Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia ... Macmillan. p. 279. ISBN 978-0099523277. 
  21. ^ a b c Simmons, Harvey (14 September 2010). "‘One law for all Ontarians’ Editorial Opinion". Star.com. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  22. ^ Choski, Bilal M. (14 March 2012). "Religious Arbitration in Ontario – Making the Case Based on the British Example of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal". law.upenn.edu. Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  23. ^ "One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain". onelawforall.org.uk. Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f Francois-Cerrah, Myriam (17 Jul 2014). "Why banning Sharia courts would harm British Muslim women". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  25. ^ Perring, Rebecca (March 24, 2015). "Boris Johnson: 'Sharia law in the UK is absolutely unacceptable'". Express. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  26. ^ Islamic Sharia Council Leyton, East London
  27. ^ a b c d Graham, David A. (20 January 2015). "Why the Muslim 'No-Go-Zone' Myth Won't Die". The Atlantic. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  28. ^ a b "Sharia in the West. Whose law counts most?". The Economist. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  29. ^ bbc.com: "Are Sharia councils failing vulnerable women?", 6 April 2013
  30. ^ "London's 'Muslim Patrol' aims to impose Sharia law in East London". CNN. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  31. ^ "Muslim vigilantes jailed for 'sharia law' attacks in London". Guardian. London. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  32. ^ Jones, Sam; agency (6 December 2013). "Muslim vigilantes jailed for 'sharia law' attacks in London" – via The Guardian. 
  33. ^ Jeory, Ted (14 February 2014). "Judge BANS Muslim Patrol vigilantes from promoting SHARIA LAW in Britain". Express. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  34. ^ Gover, Dominic (14 February 2014). "Ban on 'Muslim Patrols' by Anjem Choudary's East London Disciples". International Business Times. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  35. ^ Vale, Paul (14 March 2014). "Royal Barnes And Rebekah Dawson, British Muslim Converts, Jailed For 'Sick' Lee Rigby YouTube Videos". Huffington Post (UK). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  36. ^ "Claim: A number of localities in the United States, France, and Britain are considered Muslim “no-go zones” (operating under Sharia Law) where local laws are not applicable. False.". snopes.com. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  37. ^ Pipes, Daniel. "The 751 No-Go Zones of France". Middle East Forum. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  38. ^ "Native French under Attack in Muslim Areas – Closer to civil war". CBN News. Apr 12, 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  39. ^ "Germany won't tolerate 'Sharia police'". DW. June 6, 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  40. ^ a b Volokh, Eugene (April 13, 2015). "The Volokh Conspiracy Muslim woman fighting Sharia law in Europe". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  41. ^ Janin, Hunt; Kahlmeyer, André (2007). Islamic Law: the Sharia from Muhammad's Time to the Present. McFarland. p. 185. ISBN 0786429216. 
  42. ^ Webster, Donald Everett (1939). The Turkey of Atatürk: social process in the Turkish reformation. Philadelphia: The American Academy of Political and Social Science. pp. 107, 127. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  43. ^ Group, Oxford Business. The Report: Tunisia 2010. p. 54. ISBN 978-1907065187.