CAIR leader describes Republicans supporting anti-Shariah bill as xenophobic and Islamophobic
On August 16, 2011 At 7:50 am
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According to news reports, Michigan Muslim leaders are gearing to oppose a legislation that will ban the implementation of "foreign laws" in the state. According to Democratic state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature, even though the bill introduced by Republican lawmaker Dave Agema does not specifically refer to the Sharia law, the law is targeted specifically against Sharia law.
The move in Michigan to pass an anti-Sharia law follows recent passing of an anti-Shariah legislation in Oklahoma that is being currently challenged in court. While several other states are introducing similar anti-Shariah legislation, critics have been saying that fear of Sharia is unfounded because Muslims constitute such a minority in the U.S. that there is no danger of there imposing sharia on everyone and that, anyway, the U.S. Constitution already guarantees a secular state.
The law to ban the implementation of "foreign law" in Michigan was proposed by Dave Agema in June and Agema has argued that the intention of the law is to protect the "vast majority" of Muslims who, according to him, have "come to this country to get away from Sharia." Agema said that:
No foreign law shall supersede federal laws or constitution or state laws or constitution..Our law is our law. I don’t like foreign entities telling us what to do.
But Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Michigan chapter told reporters that:
Agema … is a reflection of a segment of the Republican Party that is openly xenophobic and Islamophobic…
Rashida Tlaib has been supported by Victor Begg, Republican co-founder of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan who called the bill "appalling." Begg speaking to reporters said,
Some in our party find it politically opportune to target my faith by sponsoring an innocuous sounding bill, knowing well that their intent is so-called ‘creeping Sharia"
Agema reacted to Begg arguing that:
If anybody has a problem with this that means they don’t agree with US laws…If they don’t want it passed then they have an ulterior agenda. It shows the people accusing me of that (bigotry) are guilty of it themselves.
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the (Jewish) Anti-Defamation League, writing in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has joined in the criticism of those promoting anti-Sharia law:
The threat of the infiltration of Shariah, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years…These measures are, at their core, predicated on prejudice and ignorance…They constitute a form of camouflaged bigotry…
Foxman's argument represents the viewpoint of those who have divested the anti-Sharia campaign of its clouding rhetoric and arrived at the real issues at stake: the attempt to legitimize the idea that a certain section of the society is "foreign" in a "nation of immigrants" while, at the same time, promoting certain laws, specifically "Christian laws," as "native" or "non-foreign." Fox argues in this light that:
[the anti-Shariah law campaign] paints all Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders…Let us…reject those who seek to divide us for political gain, or those who wish to stereotype and scapegoat an entire people because of their religious faith
The irony of the anti-Sharia crusade, evident to its opponents, is that those at the forefront are the same as those who are anxious to promote Ten Commandments granite monuments in public grounds and campaign for "God's Biblical laws" as the basis of all laws.
In what looks like a reaction to the situation, the White House, early this month, released a report titled: “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States," outlining strategy to reach out to local communities and educate community leaders about religion and tolerance.