Monday, November 15, 2010

Sharia-Compliant in America

by Gary Bauer

Liberal judges are increasingly looking to the laws of foreign countries to help them determine the outcomes of the legal cases before them in U.S. state and federal courts. It may not be long before they begin to write their opinions with an eye on the laws of foreign cultures, too.

Lost in the “shellacking” that Democrats took on Election Day was news of a first-of-its-kind state constitutional amendment passed in Oklahoma. Voters there passed an amendment that prohibits courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

At first glance, the part of the amendment that prohibits Islamic law might seem unnecessary. There was no great movement among Oklahoma’s 30,000 Muslims to institute Sharia law. But there have been cases in America in which Islamic law has been considered.

In New Jersey recently, a family court judge refused to issue a restraining order against a Moroccan Muslim who had raped his wife. The judge concluded that no sexual assault had taken place because Islam forbids wives to refuse sex.

“This court believes,” the judge wrote in his opinion, “that [the husband] was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.”

Thankfully, an appellate court overturned this absurd decision.

The Oklahoma constitutional amendment, passed with 70 percent of the vote, was preemptive in nature. Preemptive of what? Perhaps that’s a question the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) could answer.

Its Oklahoma affiliate filed a lawsuit, and U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order to block the new amendment. The order will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing on a requested preliminary injunction.

Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter, suggested that the amendment discriminated against “religious minorities” and that it would “infringe on the constitutional rights of ordinary Oklahomans—including the right to wear religious head scarves in driver’s license photographs, choose Islamic marriage contracts, implement Islamic wills, or to be buried according to one’s religious beliefs.”

But Sharia means much more than the right to wear a headscarf. Most constitutions of the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Conference Member States cite Sharia as a source of legislation. Not coincidentally, those countries’ governments are disproportionately represented among the world’s worst violators of human rights and religious freedoms.

Sharia was written into the new Iraqi constitution in 2005. It states that “Islam is the official religion of the state and is a foundation source of legislation. . . . No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.”

Iraq’s Chaldean and Assyrian Christians are on the verge of extinction because, as one Christian leader in Iraq put it last year, “It seems that Iraq is one step closer to becoming an Islamic state intolerant of non-Muslims.”

So-called moderate Muslims insist that Sharia means different things in different places. There’s truth to that. In Afghanistan, Sharia means stoning alleged adulterers. In Sudan, Sharia prescribes amputations for petty crimes. In Nigeria, Sharia means that blasphemers are burned alive in a ring of gasoline-soaked tires.

Some Muslims insist that Sharia would apply to Muslims only. In Great Britain, for example, numerous Sharia courts have been established to settle certain disputes among the country’s growing Muslim population.

But in Muslim-majority countries, Sharia is often applied not only to Muslims but to non-Muslims too. A Christian woman in Pakistan was recently sentenced to death for blasphemy after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

A woman in Iran faces stoning for alleged adultery. After an uproar ensued, Iran deputy foreign minister, Hassan Ghashghavi, said, “We live in an Islamic country and we act according to the Koran’s sentences. Even if 100,000 must be executed, we will carry out the Koran’s sentences.”

And what would happen to Muslims like the New Jersey rape victim who wish to be tried under civil rather than Islamic law?

It’s telling that at a time in America when Christian doctors are being ordered to set aside their religious beliefs in order to perform abortions, Muslims may be close to gaining more rights to elevate their religious precepts over civil law.

And at a time when American courts agonize over whether lethal injection may be too painful for coldblooded killers to endure, the religion of peace prescribes punishments aimed at inflicting as much pain as possible, often against the innocent.

Liberal judges have used foreign law in their decisions on everything from upholding race-based admissions at public universities to legalizing sodomy.

They are wrong to do so. We are a society based on Judeo-Christian principles of civilization. Neither modern Europe’s secularist bias nor the world’s Sharia-based Islamic regimes have anything better to offer than our own founding ideals.


Former presidential candidate Mr. Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for W orking Families.

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