Do Florida legislators need to tell courts not to use Sharia law?

Kansas now has a law forbidding its courts to apply and enforce Sharia law – the Islamic system of laws that, among other things, often calls for adulterers to be stoned to death.

A woman sits in a Muslim headscarf shop in Aceh province, Indonesia. Aceh has officially adopted Sharia law. Nearly all of the province’s 4 million residents are Muslim. Only 1 percent of Americans identify themselves as Muslims. (AP photo)

That should be a relief to … well, it’s not clear why anybody in Kansas should feel relieved by the new law, which Gov. Sam Brownback signed last week.

“There are,” the Associated Press noted in its story, “no known cases in which a Kansas judge has based a ruling on Islamic law.”

That hasn’t stopped groups from backing laws like the one Kansas just approved. In the last session the Florida House approved a law to prevent Florida judges from using any foreign system of laws in its courts. The bill died in the Florida Senate.

Sharia law was not specifically mentioned in the Florida bill or in the Kansas law. But it’s clear from online postings about such laws – which have been proposed in dozens of states – that many people support them as a way to prevent imposition of Sharia law.

It isn’t likely that lawmakers suddenly will pass laws calling for adulterers to be stoned to death. To be blunt, too many politicians could end up at the wrong end of a rock.

But supporters of the anti-Sharia movement say their focus is to prevent Sharia law from dictating the terms of divorces or child custody cases. Religious officials often have a role in such family matters. Jewish groups, for example, opposed the Florida law because they were afraid the Legislature was infringing on religious authority.

Anti-Sharia legislation almost always says that foreign laws shall not be applied in American courts in ways that infringe on constitutionally granted rights. But if those rights already are guaranteed by state and federal constitutions, why would any state need a separate law to uphold those rights?

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with many religious groups, says states obviously don’t need such laws and that they’re being proposed by politicians either out of bigotry or to gain some political advantage.

Some advocates of anti-Sharia laws say they are doing so to protect the rights of women, noting that in some countries under Islamic law women are not allowed to drive or to appear in public without head coverings or more extensive body coverings.

Florida lawmakers such as Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who sponsored anti-Sharia legislation this year, say they will introduce similar measures next year.

What do you think? Does Florida legislators need to tell courts not to use Sharia law? Leave a comment, or click on the link below to take our poll.

Do Florida legislators need to tell courts not to use Sharia law?

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This entry was posted
on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 at 12:04 pm and is filed under Children/Families, Florida, Legal, Religion.
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