Muslim Sues Oklahoma Over Anti-Shariah Ballot Measure
Just two days after Oklahoma voters approved a ballot measure banning state courts from considering Islamic or international law when ruling on cases, a local Muslim has filed a federal lawsuit saying the measure is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit against ballot measure, State Question 755 – or better known as "Save Our State" -- seeks a temporary restraining order to block the results of the election from being certified by the state Election Board on Nov. 9. The measure is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1.
Oklahoma residents approved the measure with 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election.
But Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma who filed the lawsuit, said that the measure is unnecessary because there is no threat of an Islamic takeover of state courts. Muslims make up only 30,000 of the state's nearly 4 million residents – less than 1 percent.
Awad said the measure violates his First Amendment right to freedom of religion because it singles out Islam. He said the measure is just another way to politically savage Muslims.
The Islamic community in Oklahoma has complained about the past actions of the state legislature, including a proposal to forbid Muslim women from wearing head garments in driver's license photos and refusing to accept a Koran from a Muslim advisory council at an official state ceremony.
Proponents of the anti-Islamic law measure have cited a New Jersey family court judge's decision not to grant a restraining order to a woman who was sexually abused by her Moroccan husband and forced repeatedly to have sex with him.
The judge ruled that her ex-husband felt he had behaved according to his Muslim beliefs and that he did not have "criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault" his wife.
But New Jersey's Appellate Court overturned the decision in July, ruling that the husband's religious beliefs were irrelevant and that the judge, in taking them into consideration, "was mistaken."
Shariah is the basis of law in most Islamic countries, though its implementation varies. It has been used in Iran and Somalia, among other places, to condone harsh punishments like amputations and stoning.
Proponents of the Oklahoma ballot measure say the possibility of Shariah law coming to American isn't remote, pointing to Britain, where at least 85 Shariah courts are operating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
I say voters have spoken!