Photo by Il Primo Uomo/Flickr (Creative Commons)
In The Washington Post's On Faith column today, political science professor Muqtedar Khan wrote:
Critics of Shariah in Oklahoma argue that they also oppose the Shariah law because it is against freedom of religion. In this age, when ignorance and bigotry are being celebrated in America, I am sure that most people in Oklahoma must have missed the irony in the situation.
The key sentence in the State question 755 is: It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Shariah Law. The proposition also bans international law. To consider how ignorant both the authors and the voters of the proposition are, please take a look at Article Six, Section I, Clause II of the US constitution. It is called the supremacy clause.
According to this clause, international treaties to which the U.S. government is a signatory become "the supreme law of the land". Treaties, along with custom and UN declarations are the main sources of international law (the proposition 755 actually mentions it). Thus by rejecting international law the proposition designed to institutionalize Islamophobia in Oklahoma, has effectually said "thanks, but no thanks" to the U.S. Constitution.
The AtlanticWire has a roundup of stories on Oklahoma's State Question 755, an until-recently obscure ballot initiative in the Sooner State that, if approved by voters, would prohibit the state's courts from using international law or Islamic Sharia law when making rulings.
I wrote about this curious bit of proposed legislation the other day. As unusual and geographically removed as it seems, State Question 755 is relevant beyond Oklahoma in the same way that Arizona's SB 1070 - and Oklahoma's similar HB 1804, which preceded it in 2007 - have been politically relevant beyond both states.
The inspiration for the measure, according to its backers, comes from a New Jersey case. From CNN:
The question might seem a befuddling one for a ballot in the heartland, but it stems from a New Jersey legal case in which a Muslim woman went to a family court asking for a restraining order against her spouse claiming he had raped her repeatedly. The judge ruled against her, saying that her husband was abiding by his Muslim beliefs regarding spousal duties. The decision was later overruled by an appellate court, but the case sparked a firestorm.
Photo by Chriszwolle/Flickr (Creative Commons)
A photo of an Oklahoma state highway map, February 2010
The Atlantic's politics editor Marc Ambinder wrote yesterday about an as-of-yet obscure "anti-Sharia law" initiative that has made it onto the Oklahoma state ballot, and how if it performs well with voters, we might see a series of similar initiatives used as a cultural wedge issue in other states. From the post:
Will anti-Sharia law initiatives be in future election cycles what anti-gay marriage initiatives were before? That is, a cultural wedge issue the GOP uses to ensure that hard-core conservatives enthusiastically flock to the polls?
If so, then Oklahoma is the proverbial canary in the coal mine for this type of initiative. One of 11 ballot initiatives in the state this November, State Question 755, better known as the "Save Our State" constitutional amendment, would prevent courts from using international or Sharia law. The question made it to the ballot by passing the state Senate 41-2 and the House 82-10. In addition to potentially rallying the conservative base to the polls, the initiative, which bans something that is nearly impossible statutorily, is worth watching because the GOP may employ it in swing states two years down the line.
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A cheery group of travelers, the women in Muslim head scarves, or hijab, walks through an airport. April, 2009
Most of the reader comments that have flooded news sites since NPR's dismissal of news analyst Juan Williams last week, following a remark he made about Muslims during an appearance on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," have been either about his comment or the network's decision to fire him.
But some people have taken Williams' remark - about becoming nervous when he got on a plane and saw people in "Muslim garb" - and provided their own opinions about the profiling of Muslims and others in airports. Some have posted comments about being profiled, others about doing the profiling. Here are a few excerpts from the past few days.
On the KPCC website under an audio clip from Friday's AirTalk program with Larry Mantle, which aired a segment Friday on the Williams incident, "Hargobind" posted:
Photo by HORIZON/Flickr (Creative Commons)
The interior of a mosque in Ishafan, Iran, May 2006
"We need to use this moment as a catalyst to open a national debate about the grievous misconceptions, fear and suspicion about Islam and Muslims. This discussion needs to be elevated to ethical discourse beyond biases and prejudices."
- Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, on NPR's dismissal of Juan Williams
The reaction from Muslim civil rights groups to the network's firing of veteran journalist and news analyst Williams last week - and his comment about Muslims that led up to it - has been varied, with some taking a more forgiving attitude than others.
Williams remarked last week during an appearance on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" that getting on a plane and seeing people in "Muslim garb" made him nervous. In reaction, the national Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling on called on Muslim Americans and the general public to contact NPR and "take appropriate action."