Republican politician compares sharia to polio

Shariah, or Islamic law, is like an infection that could quickly spread and undermine Missouri’s judicial system, and a proposed state constitutional amendment is the way to stop it, the bill’s sponsor told a House committee yesterday.

Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool, said his measure, which has more than 100 co-sponsors, is like a vaccine. “Did you get a polio vaccine?” Wells asked during an exchange with Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City.

“So Shariah law is like polio; it is a terminal disease?” Kander asked.

“Absolutely,” Wells said.

When making decisions, state courts shall “uphold and adhere to” the Missouri Constitution and laws, the U.S. Constitution and laws, and if necessary, the law of other states when guidance is needed. “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures,” the proposal says. “Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.”

Shariah law guides Muslims in food and moral choices, prayer and, when used as a judicial system, can result in harsh punishments. And radical Muslims want to force it on nonbelievers, Wells said. “Shariah law is being pushed right now,” Wells said. “A few weeks ago, there was a cleric pushing Shariah law, and he said that is what the law should be throughout the whole world. This is push back. … It is a statement that we don’t want this in Missouri.”

Under questioning from the outnumbered Democrats on the committee, Wells said he sees no reason why anyone would be offended by his bill specifying that a Muslim form of law was banned in Missouri. “I am not anti-Muslim, people, believe me,” Wells replied. “This is a protective law, opposed to an oppressive law. Do you not realize how oppressive Shariah law is?”

Vanessa Crawford, representing Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates and several other groups, said the bill shows how little many Americans understand about Muslims living in their communities. “For American Muslims, what Shariah is is a prescription for course of action during daily life,” she said. “They are not trying to subvert the law. This bill does nothing except trying to score political points off of fear-mongering. And that undermines the basic values of American democracy.”

The committee did not vote on the proposal. The chairman, Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, said he was “taking it under consideration.”

Columbia Daily Tribune, 17 March 2011