Part 7 of 10 – Aug 26, 2011 (Day 2) of an 8 hour Symposium at NY Law School Law Review On “Sharia in America:Principle and Prospects”. The purpose was to examine the place of Islamic Law in The United States.
For this speaker, Professor Sadiq Reza gave a more sedate introduction.
Notes from Professor Reza’s intro of Professor Kristen Stilt (Northwestern University School of Law her specialization is Constitutional Law)
Reza says, “In Professor Stilt’s field of law she has written about the aspirations of the Iraqi people to be governed in some respect by Sharia Law. Turkey not the model. neither Muslim nor Democracy. Not Iran. Suggests Egypt as her model (middle of the road) . But, today she’ll be addressing the wave of anti-Sharia legislation.”
Our speaker, Professor Kristen Stilt :
Notes from Professor Stilt’s 30 minute presentation (this was a very detailed presentation)
- Sharia is term used. Not Islamic Law. Singled out in this way. To prevent judges from applying foreign or International Law.
- anti-Sharia legislation in 25 States (reads list). Some of the States mentioned are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming. What are they really trying to accomplish. Many dimensions.
- Law of Nations. International Law. General Assent of Civilized Nations. Ban of Sharia Law and the SOS amendment on Oklahoma (2010) says not look to precepts of other nations. Precepts. Cultures.”What does that mean? We don’t know.” But anti- legislation was adopted by 70% of the voters. Population-wise Oklahoma was not a ‘Muslim’ state. Only 1% Muslim. Oklahoma only State effort that went to court.
- Some key actors behind the movement: David Yerushlami is apparently the man behind this anti-Sharia movement. A one-man powerhouse getting this legislation passed. She refers to the Center For American Progress report as proof. Belittles the whole movement. Dov Hikind. Brigitte Gabriel (ACT)
- Their campaign focused on NJ case. Husband says his religion does not allow the possibility he would ‘rape’ his wife. Mistake to force courts to be entangled in Sharia decisions. Judge in NJ was wrong on the law.
- Appeals court in NJ said religious beliefs do not trump American Law
- They threw in everything that looked bad about Islam. CAIR, Iran (claiming American Muslims want America to be Iran). The GZ mosque. And the initiative passed in Oklahoma
- Law vs Religion. Sharia is personal. Private. What is Sharia? A Foreign Law? Lacks legal character. A Religious Faith Tradition. A Religion?
- 2011. Efforts to criminalize Sharia Organization. “This is ridiculous”, she says,”Nonsense. Who propagates this?”
- Center For Security Policy and David Yerushlami of S.A.N.E. Frank Gaffney was link to Washington policy world. Tried to get Washington to listen to Yerushalmi. They didn’t ‘buy’ it so Yerushalmi is quoted as saying they had to take it directly to the States.
- They sent people to 82% of mosques. Concluded all promoted violence. David Yerushalmi hooked up with Tea Party. With ACT and claims there is a Stealth Jihad in America. These organizations talk of Domestic Terrorism.
- She shows us his “Sharia The Threat to America” and what Sharia means to him (Yerushalmi) He says Islam is one thing. Sharia another. That we need to empower non-Sharia compliant Muslims. Religion is okay. Sharia is bad. BUT, Stilt says you can’t take those two things apart.
- David Yerushalmi’s family study. He says Sharia different from other religious law: Jewish/Catholic Law.
- Stilt claims his material perverts what is Islamic Law. NJ is the only case they can point to that was bad-law. This case was wrong and that’s what appeals are for. (Later in Q and A Sadiq makes the point the judge erred because he was distracted by religious law)
- In conclusion, Stilt asks, ” What’s behind this? Talk about threat of domestic terrorism is unrelated to this legislation. The threat of Stealth Jihad.” Her sighs of exasperation continue as she mentions, “An agenda was set. Evidence was looked for.”
- Stealth Jihad NOT the Problem. Problem is created. They CREATED the idea of a ‘Stealth Jihad”. Real problem is something bigger.
- Islamophobia. Stilt’s conclusion, “They don’t like diversity. Don’t like people who look different. Don’t like different ideas threatening our society.The problem is not Sharia Law in American courts. Just a side-show harnessed and made to look like a problem.” (speech ends at approx 28:00)
NOW the Q and A (which also about 30 minutes. A few questions were long as were the responses)
Questions and topics addressed :
- How to do business with Foreign/International Law
- Honor Killings, are they Sharia based or just a Social Problem? Stilt said, “Since our laws don’t allow murder, how could this be interpreted as being okay?”
- Why fire an Imam from a mosque for applying Sharia law? We don’t tell the Catholic Church what to do. We’d have to change the 1st Amendment.
- Muslim Community needs to step up. Honor killings are not Sharia. Domestic violence is in every community. Not just Muslim. Mentions that honor killings happen in Brazil. Brides in India. No one talks about that.
- Question asked about sexual orientation. Homosexuals being killed under Sharia.
AUDIO of Professor Stilt’s presentation and the Q and A: (FYI-because the audience microphone was used improperly, there were times I had to reposition the hyper-sensitive audio recorder to catch the questions and causing occasional noise but it doesn’t last)
The symposium continues with two more speakers. Professor Umar Moghul (Islamic Finance), and Professor Sadiq Reza (Criminal Law) then concludes with a Plenary Discussion.
However, these posts won’t be going on-line until next week; after the SIOA/AFDI 9-11 Memorial Rally.
And please, follow link to a fabulous article on the symposium written by Alyssa Lappen “Sharia Lobby Shifts into Fifth Gear”