Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are Americans letting up on anti-Islam feelings?

In the Washington Post Omar Sacirbey wrote an article discussing the decline in fervor of anti-Sharia laws. The anti-Sharia laws are designed to keep judges from considering Islamic law or any other foreign law (like the Jewish Bet Din tribunals) when making any judicial decisions. Last year there were 22 states had already passed the bill or were considering it. In the last couple weeks anti-Sharia legislation has died done or been withdrawn. This activity has gotten people wondering if it will stay like this or if people are having a change of heart. On the front it looks like it. Sacirbey says that if you look further you will find out from many of the politicians that the reason it has died down or been withdrawn is, because there was not enough time to discuss it. Some states do not plan to reintroduce the bill next year, but other states do when there will be enough room and time on the docket. In the states where the legislation is still alive, those advocating for the bill are receiving a lot of criticism. There are polls showing that the numbers are down from last year of Americans thinking Muslims wanted to impose Sharia law. Many critics say this bill is aimed at discriminating against Muslims.
The problem to me is quite obvious. This bill seems directly aimed at discriminating a certain religion, Islam, but it also affects other religions. In the legislation it does not just say that the bill is against foreign law being considered but Sharia is listed just as specifically. This bill is designed to not allow judges to take into consideration foreign laws when making decisions. For example, in divorce rulings judges would not be allowed to use a religion's law or a foreign law to help make a decision. In Muslim marriages there are marriage contracts signed. A lot of times it is not exactly something that is verified in court or notarized. This law would make it so that the marriage contract would not be allowed in helping rule in a divorce. Marriage contracts are, in most cases, in favor of the woman and she may actually get less what is due here, because to the courts her marriage contract could be void.
I agree with those criticizing this bill. For me it just seems that Americans are not happy unless they can band against someone they deem as different. Therefore if they are different, then they must be dangerous. The Americans did it with the Mormons, Pueblo Indians, and Jehovah's Witnesses and now it is happening with the Muslims. Catholics have also faced their share of discrimination in the United States. I feel that this is a violation of the free exercise clause of the first amendment. After all the Supreme Court cases we have looked at in class, I would hope that if this made it to the Supreme Court that it would be struck down as unconstitutional. I feel that this is inhibiting religions to practice as they want. In any case I feel that the court needs to take everything into consideration and this bill would just make it so that not a whole picture would be presented in court.  Those so against Muslims and Sharia need to become more educated about what they are so against and they may not find that they are so different after all.


Emrah K said...

Today I read news from Germany that in Germany a judge made a decision for two engaged Muslims. They have a contract of marriage but they have not married yet, and then they lived problem. According to Shari'a this contract is not invalid for they did not marry but according to German law the contract is invalid. However, the judge regarded the contract as valid, means he made a decision in accordance with Shari'a. I think, this is very normal decision because everyone does not have to accept their countries all laws. In same cases, people may have religious rules like in this example. As you said that this bill causes discrimination because if judges' goal is to establish justice, equality, etc. they should accept different laws.

Amber P. said...

I believe part of the "letting up on anti-Islam feelings" is due to the war slowing down and the education people are receiving regarding Islam. Fortunately, this is occurring, which will help Islam and many other religions. If this law was brought to the Supreme Court, I believe it would probably be found unconstitutional. When conducting the Lemon Test, one of the questions is regarding the advancement or inhibiting of a religion. This law is inhibiting the Islamic faith by stating specifically that Islamic law is not to be considered in court. The law would not be unconstitutional if it stated that no foreign law is to be considered, instead of no foreign law or Islamic law. I believe the law should be passed but only if the reference to Islamic law is taken out. The law would be important if this was taken out because it is important to decide cases based on the United States law only.

Amisha P said...

Trying to look at this article from a different point of view, if the courts look at one foreign law it has to look at all foreign law. Sometimes it is not possible, because they would have to consider every religious law. Last week I wrote a blog about Natives Americans being granted permission to use 2 bald eagles in their religious practices. For many years this was denied to them, even though it was a rule for them to use it in their religious practice. The courts said it was illegal for them to use bald eagles, or even just their feathers. If the courts start taking in to consideration one foreign law it must considered every foreign law, which would create big problems. On the other hand I think they should try to be considered for foreign laws, but this would a sticky situation. Then they would have to say this law is legitimate for us to follow and this one is not.