Alabama Bans Sharia Law, Even Though it Doesn’t Exist in the State

It’s true that during the 2014 midterms, a number of progressive ballot initiatives like minimum wage increases, gun background checks, paid sick leave and marijuana legalization passed with majority support across the country. But not every policy put up for a vote was a progressive win. Some of them were a throw back to some of the most far right fear mongering platforms we see in this nation.

In Alabama, that was a call to protect the state from the creeping “threat” of Sharia law, and it passed by a massive margin. “By an overwhelming 72-28 margin, voters in Alabama voted on Tuesday to ban Sharia law and other ‘foreign laws’ in the state’s courts,” reported The Blaze. “The state constitutional amendment was criticized as an attack on Muslims by some Islamic groups.”

As was often the case when Sharia law bills were being considered in state legislatures, there was no indication of there ever being a situation in which Sharia was in danger of being applied. “It is aimed at Islam, that’s what its origination was from,” Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, told AL.com. “There is no evidence of Muslims ever asking for Sharia Law to be implemented in American courts. We practice within the law of our country. That’s just fear-mongering.” Even the Alabama Christian Coalition admits there is no need for such a law, with their president, Dr. Randy Brinson stating, “I understand the sentiment behind this, but Sharia law is not going to be implemented in Alabama, it just isn’t.”

Anti-Sharia law bills were popular just after the first Tea Party wave in 2010, with a number of states threatening to pass bills in their legislatures to “protect” the state from having their local laws set aside in favor of Islamic code. Seven states ended up passing some sort of anti-Sharia law legislation, with North Carolina being one of the last in the summer of 2013.

“Supporters hailed the bill as an important safeguard that protects the American legal system from foreign laws that are incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, while critics argued that the bill’s only purpose is to whip-up anti Muslim hatred because the Constitution already overrides foreign laws,” the Huffington Post reported in August of 2013.”‘The intent behind this law is bigoted and it is intended to alienate the Muslim community,’ said Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte.”

The lack of any sort of movement during 2014 legislative sessions makes it clear how extremely unpopular such bills are to the general population, and with reelection campaigns at the front of many lawmakers’ minds it’s unsurprising that the push slowed to a halt. Alabama’s amendment may signal the restart of the effort, especially as the popular vote was a second attempt at such a ban after the state legislature refused to pass a similar bill in 2012.

Supporters of the ban are thrilled with the voters of Alabama’s massive support for the amendment. “Muslims should take their goals to impose sharia laws on America to Michigan, or something,”wrote Liberty News. “At least, that is as far as Alabama is concerned. The Yellowhammer state just passed a law that bans any sort of foreign law from being able to take effect there and that includes Muslim sharia laws. Let’s hope this idea spreads to other states. We need to head off what has happened in England before it occurs here.”

While Alabama may now officially reject “foreign” law (or at least until a court finds the designation unconstitutional) Mississippi isgathering signatures to declare the state officially a “primarily Christian” one.

Americans United reports, “I suspect there is a lot in Initiative 46 that would offend people, but the part that is relevant to Americans United is this: ‘The State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues; and, accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens. The acknowledgments hereby secured shall not be construed to transgress either the national or the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights.’ OK, where to begin? For starters, this is a huge slap in the face to anyone living in Mississippi who is not Christian. The clear implication is that Christians who love the ‘Holy Bible’ are the real, bona fide residents of the state. Everyone else is just some kind of lesser, second-class citizen who will be tolerated maybe.”

America as a country has existed with the express purpose of providing a refuge for people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to live together in freedom, peace and prosperity. Yet somehow we continue to write and approve initiatives meant not to unify, but divide us, and place one set of religious beliefs above all others. Ballot amendment by ballot amendment Christian conservatives seek to drive the country apart. Is that really what they think God wants for our country?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

158 comments

Joseph Glackin
Joseph Glackinabout a year ago

Robert MacLean bemoans that Sharia law is being enforced in parts of Europe. How does Robert feel about fundamentalist Christian law (anti-LGBT, anti-choice, anti-contraception) being enforced in parts of the United States?

SEND
Margaret Goodman
Margaret Gabout a year ago

Heleen de Boer- van Dijke wrote, " ... The bible was never seen as the direct word of God ... " Perhaps Heleen never saw the bible as the direct word of God. But it seems that many fundamentalist Christians do see the bible that way.

SEND
Margaret Goodman
Margaret Gabout a year ago

Robert MacLean bemoans that Sharia law is being enforced in parts of Europe. How does Robert feel about fundamentalist Christian law (anti-LGBT, anti-choice, anti-contraception) being enforced in parts of the United States?

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

SEND
Joseph Glackin
Joseph Glackin2 years ago

The famous English actress Dame Elizabeth Campbell said, on hearing of Oscar Wilde being arrested for homosexual behavior;
"Fine, as long as they don't do it in the streets and scare the horses."
Translation: Don't parade your philosophy in public.

I don't care whether it is homosexuality, Islam, or fundamentalist "Christianity". Do as you please. but you have no right to demand I support or condone your cause.

SEND
Ernest R.
Ernest R2 years ago

@ Mark V."their way of life is simply not compatible" Exactly. Totally different moral codes trying to decide how best to force their own to dominate. Don't like your own culture ? Canadians visiting abroad used to say on returning that Canada was the best country on earth. Now they want to introduce the "not best" parts. Some want to throw every possible cultural variation together to all live in peace and harmony together. How is that working so far ? What is the result when incompatible people are together ?
Some people prize diversity. I am one of them. Cultures work best in isolated pockets where they can flourish with a minimum of confusion, not all thrown together to produce what ?

SEND
Joseph Glackin
Joseph Glackin2 years ago

Mark V.

We get the same thing here, and it need not be about religion. Back in the 1960's I worked in Rock music, had the waist length hair, beard, etc. I went to Phoenix Az with my lady to meet her parents. Her father handed me a .38 and told me to never go out without it worn visibly on my belt.

He was right.

The trouble here is the fundy Xtians play the victim card. They are upset they can no longer bully people into accepting THEIR definitions of "morality" Things like choice, the LGBT community, equal rights and pay, and the ever present racial change challenge their vision of the "good old days" when they ruled and the "others "knew their place."

SEND
Mark V.
Mark Verbossche2 years ago

Joseph G. - Thanks for your explanation and I do agree that any sort of religious fundamentalism is bad. Here in the UK we don't have a problem with Christian fundamentals (or not that I know of), only radical islamists, which is why I am most weary of them. They seem to want to change our way of life, i.e. impose their islamic views, which is what we need to be careful of as their way of life is simply not compatible with the western values we have gone through hell to build up. Islam will take us back a thousand years.
The problem is also simply one of numbers, as is evident here in the UK. When one walks around a London neighborhood and is surrounded by burqa clad woman, it is a sign of silent domination. Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe and it will simply take over through sheer numbers.

SEND
Joseph Glackin
Joseph Glackin2 years ago

Mark V.--

If you don't understand how the law works in the US, here is the 50p tour.

All local, state and federal laws must comply with the Constitution. The Constitution declares that:

"Congress (and, through interpretations since our Civil War, all lower jurisdictions), shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....." (Amendment I)

What this means is you are free to believe and practice any religion, or none. Your neighbor is as free. Neither of you may impose your beliefs (or lack) upon any other.

The problem in the US is not Islamic fanatics. It is fundamental (accent "mental") Christians who want to impose their dogma upon the rest of us. One of the states dominated by these Christian "Talibangelicals" is Alabama. While they might not require burqas, they have definite ideas about things like women's choice.

SEND
Mark V.
Mark Verbossche2 years ago

I fully support this, I am an atheist but islam is a religion that scares me the most and that I have the least respect for as it is a violent, hate-filled religion that demonizes woman and everyone else. Living in London I see its influence daily, walking around sometimes I don't feel like I am in Europe anymore but rather in the middle east. Some areas are simply no-go areas for Europeans, they have simply taken over. Islam is taking over Europe and America will be next. That is their goal, world domination, and when that time comes, and your childrens children are forced to pray 5 times a day to its ridiculous so called god, then don't come crying to us, the people who saw this coming. Liberals are going to be bitten so badly one day. The free world must unite against the scourge that is islam, it is simply not compatible with the free world.

SEND