The truth behind the anti-Sharia movement

Over the past few years, anti-Sharia organizations and politicians have introduced versions of anti-Sharia legislation in 26 states – with some bills expressly singling out Sharia law for condemnation, and others sweeping Islamic law under broader categories of “foreign” or “international” law. The ACLU is currently working to overturn an example of this kind of legislation in Oklahoma.

The anti-Sharia movement would have you believe that Islamic law is encroaching on our legal system and is a threat to an American way of life.

This is simply not true, and in fact the court cases cited by anti-Muslim groups as symptoms of some kind of “Muslim threat” actually show the opposite. Courts treat lawsuits that are brought by Muslims or that address the Islamic faith in the same way that they deal with similar claims brought by people of other faiths or that involve no religion at all. The cases show that protections already exist in our legal system to ensure that courts do not become wrongly entangled with religion or improperly consider, defer to, or apply religious law where it would violate basic principles of U.S. federal or state policy.

Prohibiting courts from considering Islamic law serves only one purpose: to bar Muslims from having the same rights and access to the courts as any other individuals. Attempts to prevent courts from considering international or foreign law suffer from constitutional flaws and undermine the ability of courts to interpret laws and treaties regarding global business, international human rights and family law issues such as international marriages and adoptions.

Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said today in a statement:

“The anti-Sharia law movement clearly seeks to ride the recent wave of anti-Muslim bias in this country, pushing laws that are rooted in the baseless idea that U.S. Muslims wish to impose Islamic law on American courts. Proponents of these misguided measures rely on the ugly implication that anything Islamic is inherently un-American, pressing for a legislative solution to a non-existent problem.”

ACLU Blog of Rights, 1 August 2011