Legislators Propose Bill To Make Shariah Law Illegal (Tennessee)
Two Republican state lawmakers are trying to make it illegal to practice Shariah law in Tennessee.
Sen. Bill Ketron said his bill aims to “curb homegrown terrorism,” while those of the Islamic faith say Shariah law doesn’t teach people to be terrorists.
Islam and the building of mosques like the one in Antioch have gotten a lot of attention over the past few months, but now the attention is on this proposed bill would make practicing Shariah law a felony.
“It’s in the news every week that someone is calling jihad,” Ketron said. “We have to step forward and try to pass some type of legislation.”
Ketron said his proposed bill has nothing to do with the building of the mosque in Murfreesboro that received national attention and much opposition from neighbors. But it is, he said, about protecting Tennesseans from radical extremists.
“It gives law enforcement officers in our state, if they find the material support of two or more people working together to create terrorism, then we have a right to charge them with a felony,” Ketron said.
He said the bill deals solely with those who practice the political part of Shariah law.
“It does not go against anybody who practices the religious tentacle of Shariah,” he said.
Imam Mahamed Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Nashville said Shariah law simply means “path or way of life.”
“It’s basically very similar to the 10 commandments: Don’t kill, don’t steal,” said Ahmed.
He said nothing in Shariah law teaches people to be terrorists.
“He’s talking about terrorism, then you have to be focused,” said Ahmed. “Of course we are against terrorism; if anyone wants to do a terrorist attack, we have to stop them together.”
A senior scholar at Nashville’s First Amendment Center told The Tennessean newspaper that the proposal is unconstitutional.
Channel 4 News asked Ketron on Wednesday why single out the radial, most extreme sector of Islam, when all religions have those who could be considered extreme.
“I’m not aware of any other extremist in any other religions other than Islam at this point. None have bubbled to the top as what we have seen with Islam,” Ketron said.
The bill was just introduced last week by Ketron and state Rep. Judd Matheny, but Ketron said he thinks he has broad support.
As for the New Islamic Center of Tennessee in Antioch, it hopes to start holding prayer meetings any day.
Georgia, Missouri, South Dakota and South Carolina are just a few of the dozen other states considering anti-Shariah bills. There’s even a federal lawsuit in Oklahoma over one.
There is already a law against instituting Shariah in this country. It is called the First Amendment. I have to wonder if this anti-Shariah madness creeping through the Bible belt is really some kind of back-handed effort to affirm a type of religious law Christian theocrats might support. That is, establishing a precedent, or at least a public perception, that religious law is permitted if it isn’t explicitly forbidden by statute.