Shariah Charade: Politicians Fan Fear to Win Ballot Approval for Oklahoma Ban on Islamic Law

By Bathija, Sandhya | Church & State, December 2010 | Go to article overview

Shariah Charade: Politicians Fan Fear to Win Ballot Approval for Oklahoma Ban on Islamic Law


Bathija, Sandhya, Church & State


Noreen Ahmad proudly calls herself an Oklahoma Muslim. She loves her home state; it's part of who she is. And until recently, she has never felt discriminated against by fellow Oklahomans.

"I wore a hijab all through college," said Ahmad, who attended the University of Central Oklahoma in her hometown of Edmond and studied information technology. "I never felt I was stared upon or looked at strangely. People were open-minded. They asked me questions. They wanted to learn about my faith."

That's why Ahmad was shocked when she heard about a ballot initiative that would add an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution prohibiting courts from considering "Shariah" - Islamic law - when deciding cases.

"I felt it was a slap to my constitutional rights and my freedom of religion," Ahmad told Church & State. "I had never had my Muslim beliefs questioned. It just made me realize how much people don't understand Islam and that they are afraid of it.

"It never occurred to me that this would be a concern," she said. "Islam says that you must abide by the law of the land that you live in. As an American Muslim, I have to obey American law. To be a good Muslim, I have to follow American law."

The Oklahoma ballot initiative -known as State Question 755 -passed on Election Day with 70 percent of the vote. The so-called "Save Our State" amendment revises the constitution so that "courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law."

Supporters of the measure claim it's the only way to protect the state from a takeover by Islamic extremists. Critics and constitutional scholars, however, insist that the measure fans the flames of religious discrimination and adds to anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

"Our Constitution already separates religion from government," said Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "This proposal had no legitimate purpose. Its only purpose was to create fear and get voters to the polls."

Marc Stern, an attorney at the American Jewish Committee, told NPR the measure is unnecessary because there is no reason to believe fundamentalist Islamic law will be imposed on the United States.

"Just as the Catholic Church didn't take over law when large numbers of Catholics [came] to the U.S., and Jewish law doesn't govern Jewish citizens, Shariah law is not going to govern, except voluntarily, the rights and responsibilities of Muslim citizens of the United States," Stern said.

But despite this logic, right-wing groups and politicians were able to convince voters that they need to "save" their state from Shariah law. Many of these leaders achieved this by using shrill and alarmist language.

For example, Brigitte Gabriel, founder of "Act! For America," claims "a huge pocket of terrorist organizations" operates out of Oklahoma.

"I know this because I work with members of the FBI who are in counter-terrorism and who are paying attention to what's happening in Oklahoma," she said. "What we are seeing right now, not only in Oklahoma, but nationwide [is] where there is a large concentration of Muslim population, [there are] more demands and more push for Shariah law."

Critics say Gabriel's concerns are absurd. Terrorists, if they actually are plotting in Oklahoma, are unlikely to cease operations because of a constitutional amendment. And with only 20,000 to 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma - out of 3.7 million people - Islamic groups are most unlikely to seize political power.

Yet many state politicians backing the measure echoed the paranoid sentiments. House Joint Resolution 1056 - which mandated the ballot initiative - passed the House 82-10 and the Senate by 41-2.

State Rep. Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs), the primary author of the measure, said "Oklahomans recognize that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Shariah Charade: Politicians Fan Fear to Win Ballot Approval for Oklahoma Ban on Islamic Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.