Coalition wants state lawmakers to withdraw bill targeting Sharia

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:56pm

A coalition of civil rights and faith-based groups called on Tennessee lawmakers Tuesday to withdraw a measure that would make it a crime to practice extreme forms of the Islamic code known as Sharia.

At a news conference outside the Legislative Plaza, they said the bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is the stiffest yet introduced in any state by the conservative national movement to limit how Muslims worship.

“I sing the Star Spangled Banner before games and I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” said Nadeem Siddiqi of Knoxville. “And I am a Muslim. I see no contradiction in that.”

Gadeir Abbas, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the legislation would make it a crime to donate to Muslim organizations or help paint a mosque.

“Even non-Muslims could be prosecuted for doing things as inane as bringing a dish to an Islamic Center’s community potluck,” he said.

Ketron insisted the bill aims only to curb homegrown terrorism and exempts the peaceful practice of Islam.

“The top priority of government should be to protect our citizens,” Ketron said in a statement. “The 9/11 attack and subsequent terrorist attacks have turned a new page in our nation’s history. All levels of government — national, state and local — must be a part of this effort. This bill seeks to enhance legislation we already have on the books to provide our state and local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to enable them to intervene against those who plan, finance and assist others who commit acts of terrorism before they occur.”

He said his bill is modeled after the federal anti-terrorism law, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional.

According to Ketron, the bill would do the following:

* Authorize the state attorney general to designate a “Sharia organization,” which is defined as one with the intent to engage in Sharia jihad through violent or criminal activity.

* Define what constitutes material support to fund terrorism and provides that those who knowingly provide material support may be prosecuted and subject to a fine or prison sentence of up to 15 years.

* Provide a civil cause of action against terrorists for people who are injured or suffer property or financial damages as a result of terrorism.

“Tennessee, like the federal government, has a compelling state interest to protect our citizens from jihad terrorism,” said the House sponsor, Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma.  “The incidence of homegrown terrorism is rising, and our local and state law enforcement officers are on the frontlines in preventing such attacks. Tennessee’s current law addresses terrorism after the fact. This legislation aims to prevent acts of terrorism before they occur.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Interfaith Alliance of Middle Tennessee held Tuesday’s news conference.

ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said the bill is “questioning an entire religious community’s loyalty to the United States.” She called it “misguided, counter-productive and discriminatory.”

“Extremist violence is not limited to one religion or belief,” Weinberg said. “Laws like this are unnecessary, unconstitutional and make us less safe by blinding authorities to real threats.”

7 Comments on this post:

By: yogiman on 3/1/11 at 3:03

This is the United States of America. This nation was founded upon the religious beliefs of our founders, and passed on to those that followed them.

All religions were accepted, but they must all follow under the laws as placed by our founders and those who followed them. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I believe our laws are primarily based on the guarantee of the freedom and safety of our nation.

If the people of the Muslim faith willingly come to the United States, why aren't they willing to abide by our Constitution and the laws established by the Americans before them? Or does those of the Muslim faith think the laws of our nation should override those of other faiths?

By: Antisocialite on 3/1/11 at 3:33

This is the perfect example of a law that 'conservatives' should hate because of it's redundancy, and the fact that it simply amounts to more government intrusion into people's private affairs. The reason it has been enthusiastically embraced is because of the latent (and blatant, in some cases) bigotry of the 'conservative' base.

By: mayju on 3/1/11 at 6:27

yogiman - This nation was also founded on the premise of separation of church and state, so it's unclear why you need to bring the founder's religion into this. There is nothing in the article saying Muslims are NOT following the laws in the US. This legislation is a waste of time and money because there are already laws in place that address provisions in the bill.

Give this a try - in the article above, substitute 'Christians' for 'Muslims' and the 'KKK' for "Shira Organization" and see how that looks. Since the 'KKK' is the Christian version of a terrorist group, it seems logical that people in Tennessee should feel compelled to update their bill to name the KKK and other such organizations as well. It would only be fair, if the real purpose is to stop 'home grown terrorists'.

By: luvslife51 on 3/2/11 at 8:59

CAIR and ACLU...funded by the Jihadist organizations that they profess against...

By: Antisocialite on 3/2/11 at 10:38

luvslife51...ignorant of the organizations that he/she professes against...

By: Ingleweird on 3/2/11 at 12:22

Nobody in this country can steal or kill and NOT be convicted in a court of law, because the accused claims to adhere to Sharia law. There is no legally recognized law in this country that exempts people from theft or murder because they believe in following Sharia Law.
A federal, state or city law is a whole different thing from a religious law. Something is being lost in translation, probably intentionally by Repub legislators, to fire up the bigots, to get them to reelect them.

By: DREIFMA on 3/2/11 at 2:24

The law has nothing to do with how Muslims worship other than when and how. How does that figure into the full practice of Sharia law. That idiotic statement starts the ball rolling to make another legal system acceptable in this country. Do we really need more chaos in our country? Muslims think of them as Muslims first and Americans second. Sharia law covers all facets of their lives. Anyone that comes to this country must adhere to the laws we have in place. If they fit in with ours fine, otherwise too bad. Ignorance has not been tolerated as an excuse for not obeying the law. We have modified and changed our Anglo Saxon/Roman law over the years because there were issues that were distastefull in it. Sharia law has lots of things in it that I find extremely distastefull. We cannot afford to have two codes of laws in this country. If immigrants dont like it, they may return to the countries of their origin to live under it. Coalitions dont grant legitimacy to any cause or make it relavant in our country. If I was in government, they could sit outside of my office till forever. I wouldnt see them and if I was in the media, wouldnt waste a byte of memory filming them, granting them some sort of defacto legitimacy. People should study Roman history more closely especially now that we are facing chaos and bankruptcy in our land. See what happens when you legitimize a primitive form of monotheism in a relatively secular and religiously tolerant nation. You will be horrified. Ladies, read up on Hypatia for example. Its sickening what the Christians did.