Would banning Sharia prevent or reduce homegrown terrorism? Most world religions have some form of sacred code or canon law; Sharia is Islam’s traditional code. The Rep. Peter King hearings in Congress have revived interest in passing laws against any government within the U.S. adopting Sharia. (And, the word is simply “Sharia”—the phrase “Sharia law” is redundant, even though most American advocates of such a ban use that two-word phrase.)
In November, Oklahoma became the first state to consider a constitutional amendment explicitly banning Sharia. The first paragraph of the ballot measure reads: “This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.” More than 70% of voters in the Sooner State approved the measure. Currently, a federal judge placed an injunction on the amendment.
Over a dozen states are considering some sort of ban. These include Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, South Dakota and Tennessee. Missouri is the latest addition to the list.
Some of the political rhetoric unleashed on this issue is extreme—for example, refering to Muslims’ sacred tradition as “evil.” Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania and presidential hopeful, is quoted as saying: “We need to define it and say what it is. And it is evil. Sharia law is incompatible with American jurisprudence and our Constitution.”
While it’s certainly fair to debate whether Sharia should play any legal role in a democracy, calling sacred traditions of a billion men and women “evil” is extreme. Like the mistaken reference to “Sharia law,” much of the political debate on Sharia has been marred by misstatements about the nature of Sharia—and whether any American Muslims are even pushing Sharia as public policy.
What have you heard about the Sharia debate?
Do you think Americans understand this complex issue?
Do you agree with Santorum—or take issue with his statements?
Please, Comment below.
(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)