Should State Lawmakers Vote on Sharia Law Bill? Depends Who You Ask

Public policy issues awaiting attention by Michigan legislators involve education, economic development, highways and bridges, law enforcement and Sharia law.

That last item seems out-of-place to some in Lansing and elsewhere, but Michigan Radio says it's a priority for backers. 

Supporters of an ‘anti-Sharia' bill plan to put pressure on Michigan lawmakers this week.

They want a vote on the bill, which would bar Michigan courts from citing "foreign" laws in their decisions. The bill has sat in the State House Judiciary Committee for nearly a year and a half.

Sharia law is a moral and religious code based on the Koran and teachings of Mohammed, Islam's prophet and founder.

The bill was introduced in June 2011 by Rep. Dave Agema, a Republican from West Michigan, who says the goal is to protect Muslims who "come to this country to get away from Sharia." He wants to prohibit judges from enforcing personal contracts that call for a foreign law to be followed if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Steve Carmody of the statewide public radio network quotes supporter Irving Ginsberg of Farmington:

"That’s really undemocratic to bottle [the bill] up like that. One should put it on the floor. Let the legislators have a stand-up yes or no vote." 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and other critics call the bill polarizing and aimed at stirring suspicions about Michigan’s large Muslim community. 

"Why would our legislators waste their precious time on something meaningless, knowing very well that American law is the law of the land and does not need a House bill to say so," asks Victor Begg of Bloomfield Hills in a commentary published by the Press & Guide in Dearborn. Begg, who's on the board of the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, adds:

"These legislators are guided by those who seek to marginalize American Muslims and demonize Islam. Some politicians are now working hard against a mythical takeover by Muslims -- a wedge issue to curry favors with certain political base."

A floor vote won't happen anytime soon, indicates an aide to House Speaker Jase Bolger. 

Similar legislation has been proposed in more than two dozen states in a campaign backed by the conservative Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor.

Read more:  Michigan Radio and Press & Guide

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