A Muslim activist in Oklahoma City filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging a voter-approved measure that bars Oklahoma state judges from considering Shariah, the Islamic religious code based on the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed‘s teachings, in formulating rulings.
State Question 755, which passed Tuesday with 70% of the vote, declares “the legal precepts of other nations or cultures” off-limits to Oklahoma courts. “Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law,” it reads.
The suit, filed by Muneer Awad, director of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asks the federal district court to block officials from certifying the referendum. Mr. Awad says the measure violates the First Amendment, which protects “free exercise” of religion and prohibits official “establishment of religion.” A hearing was set for Monday.
The complaint alleges Oklahoma has singled out Islam for “profound stigma,” consigning Muslims such as Mr. Awad “to an ineffectual position within the political community.”
Oklahoma’s Legislature voted overwhelmingly to place the Save Our State Amendment before voters. A co-sponsor, state Sen. Anthony Sykes, denied it sought to stigmatize Muslims. “We’re not trying to send any sort of message here,” said Mr. Sykes, a Republican.
Rather, he said, Oklahomans wanted to insulate their judiciary from un-American influences. While no Oklahoma court ever has cited Shariah law, “we are on a slippery slope,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Lerblance, one of two state senators to vote against the measure, called it “a scare tactic.”
“They call it ‘Save Our State.’ I don’t know what we’re saving it from,” he said. “We have yet to have any court do anything based on Shariah law.”
Why wait till there are cases?
I don’t think that just for “singling out one religion” this measure is unconstitutional. While some (but not a tiny minority, you just have to look at the numbers: 40% in Britain, for example) Muslims want to substitute State Law with Sharia Law, as the secular law is incompatible “with Allah’s decree”. Isn’t that illegal?