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4 Bumps

What is wrong with Tennessee?

Looks like someone else needs to reread their constitution. Specifically that first amendment about no law impeding the free exercise of religion.

A proposed Tennessee law would make following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, introduced the same bill in the Senate and House last week. It calls Shariah law a danger to homeland security and gives the attorney general authority to investigate complaints and decide who's practicing it.

It exempts peaceful practice of Islam but labels any adherence to Shariah law — which includes religious practices such as feet washing and prayers — as treasonous. It claims Shariah adherents want to replace the Constitution with their religious law.

A dozen other states are considering anti-Shariah bills, and there's a federal lawsuit in Oklahoma over one.

Imam Mohamed Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Nashville on 12th Avenue South said Islam teaches its followers to obey the law of the land. Shariah law, he said, teaches moral values.

"What do you mean, really, by saying I can't abide by Shariah law?" he said. "Shariah law is telling me don't steal. Do you want me to steal and rob a bank?"

The Attorney General's Office had no comment.

It is unclear whether the bill will go before lawmakers in its current form. The measure was filed Thursday to beat the deadline to introduce bills for the current session, Matheny said. It has not been assigned to a committee.
Changes considered

Matheny, the House speaker pro tempore, said he is concerned that aspects of Shariah law might conflict with the U.S. Constitution, but he does not intend to criminalize practices such as the preparations for prayer or dietary rules. He said he would consider amending the bill before asking the legislature to consider it.

"I'm still researching it," he said. "My intent is to educate and to look at it."

Most anti-Shariah bills in other states would ban courts from citing Shariah law. Oklahoma voters approved a referendum in November that banned state courts from using Shariah law in their rulings. A federal judge blocked the Oklahoma law from being implemented, pending a federal lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional.

The Tennessee bill goes further by proposing criminal penalties for following Shariah. Matheny said the bill was model legislation, given to him by the Tennessee Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy group.

Bobbie Patray, state president of the Eagle Forum, confirmed that the law had been drafted by David Yerushalmi, a Chandler, Ariz.-based attorney. Yerushalmi runs the Society of Americans for National Existence, a nonprofit that says following Shariah is treasonous.

He also has close ties to Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, a key witness for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a mosque being built in Murfreesboro.
Backers, critics sound off

Rebecca Bynum, editor of the New English Review, a Nashville-based website that is critical of Islam, supports the bill.

"I applaud Senator Ketron for his effort to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the real and present danger presented by Shari'a and for the deep knowledge and thoughtful consideration that produced this bill," she wrote in an e-mail. "Even if this bill does not pass, it will have done our citizens a great service by provoking informed discussion of this issue."

Charles Haynes, a senior scholar with the First Amendment Center in Nashville, disagrees. He said the bill is based on a complete misunderstanding of Shariah law, which he described as a set of voluntary religious rules, similar to Catholic canon law or Jewish religious law.

The bill is wrongheaded, he said.

"It's complete nonsense," he said.

The bill also is unnecessary, Haynes said, because people of all faiths have to follow secular law.

"Civil law and the Constitution of the United States trumps religious law," he said. "The government can't label religious laws as wrong or treasonous or evil. The government may not take sides in religion. It may not say what is a good religion or a bad religion."

Selah Sbenaty, a member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said state legislators have bigger problems to worry about than Shariah law. He wishes they would spend more time trying to fix the state's economy and less time worrying about Islam.

"I believe this bill is a waste of our tax dollars, and I am sure the bill will not pass," he said. "The people of Tennessee are good, loving, hospitable, and do not tolerate bigotry."

The bill is SB 1028 in the Senate and HB 1353 in the House.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Did they get confused and think they woke up in France?

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 7:40 AM on Feb. 24, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (94)
  • I love TN.

    Answer by jewjewbee at 8:06 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • I love TN.

    Would you still love them if they make adhering to Catholic Canon Law a felony next?

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 8:08 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • I love TN.

    Answer by jewjewbee at 8:15 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • In this day and age, amplifying, restating our position on the matter is in order.

    To contend otherwise is disingenuous or worse than that plain shortsighted.
    How are we better than Great Britain, where the Prime Minister has declared that multiculturalism has failed?
    The German Chancellor has declared the same thing as has the French Prime Minister.


    Answer by mustbeGRACE at 8:26 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • The Minnesota Daily has reported that the city of Minneapolis is providing Islamic financing and Shariah-compliant loans and lending solutions to Minneapolis businesses. According to the paper, the city of Minneapolis has partnered with the African Development Center to loan funds to Muslim business owners in the local Minneapolis community in a manner that is Shariah-compliant and avoids variable rate interest financing.

    Provisions in the loan program, termed the “Alternative Finance Program,” require Minneapolis Muslim-owned businesses to pay a fixed rate of return, similar to an altered version of the “Two-Percent” loans offered by the City’s Department of Community Planning and Economic Development.


    Answer by mustbeGRACE at 8:27 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • No comment.

    Answer by Carpy at 8:28 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • From the Islamic Finance, Business and Litigation Blog

    April 2, 2010.

    Nothing wrong with Tennessee.



    Answer by mustbeGRACE at 8:31 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • So it teaches not to steal and to wash feet but there has to more to it then that.. Why would any one care if you washed someones feet and didnt steal??? So like i said that there has to be more to it then that.

    Answer by mrssundin at 8:32 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • So like i said that there has to be more to it then that.

    Yeah, it's not Christian and TN is in the South. That's about it. They aren't doing what other states did - clarifying that it's to be kept separate from actual civil/criminal law just like Jewish law or Catholic Canon - they are trying to make practicing it in any way a felony - including not stealing.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 8:33 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

  • embarrassing for my state. Believe it or not, many people in this state are NOT intolerants, racists, bigots. We have more than our fair share of them here though...unfortunately. There's been a lot of uproar over Islamic Centers in the area, so it's probably coming from the same looney tunes making a big deal about those. I don't even know what to say about this except that I really hope it doesn't pass, because it's completely ridiculous. In case anyone has ever wondered why I'm usually private or at least cautious about sharing my Non-Christian beliefs with others in this area, I think we can say that's probably a good decision. Thanks for posting this. I just put it on FB too, so hopefully enough people will call and make sure they know this is complete nonsense and clearly a violation of people's First Amendment rights.

    Answer by pam19 at 8:56 AM on Feb. 24, 2011

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