Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bill Is an Anti-Sharia Law in Disguise

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bill Is an Anti-Sharia Law in Disguise

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Schlakman, Parvez Ahmed, Jack Romberg

As the Legislature enters the final weeks of its regular session, it seemingly is poised to pass Senate Bill 58, a bill entitled Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases.

This legislation is controversial on many grounds, especially given its original incarnation as an anti-Sharia law bill similar to at least 35 bills introduced in 15 other states around the country.

The American Bar Association generally opposes such legislation because it's "duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law ... Initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at aeSharia law,' are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence."


The bill's history is curious, and its potential impact is wide ranging.

Defeated in prior legislative sessions, its sponsors re-characterized it presumably to blunt criticism by attempting to distance it from the original language that overtly targeted Sharia, which to Muslims is what Halacha is to Jews and Canon is to Catholics.

The current version makes no direct reference to Sharia but and instead targets "foreign law."

If SB58 were to become law, the resulting confusion would likely precipitate a flood of litigation, Florida lawyers being the principal beneficiaries.

For instance, "this could prohibit Florida courts from recognizing divorces of Jews under Israeli law," advised David Barkey of the Anti-Defamation League.

Barkey, Carlos Osorio with the International Law Section of The Florida Bar and Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, also observed in a column they co-authored for the Sun Sentinel that the bill "threatens to derail Florida's role as an international trade hub by complicating and destabilizing the personal and commercial lives of foreign nationals sent here from such important partners as Israel, Latin America and elsewhere. …

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