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Kansas governor approves measure blocking Islamic law

June 20th, 2012

Kansas governor Sam Brownback signed a bill on March 26, 2012 that will effectively prevent Kansas courts, agencies and tribunals from basing decisions on the legal codes of foreign countries and, more significantly, of foreign religious groups. The language of this law, which will come into effect on July 1 and was approved with bipartisan support by both the state’s House and Senate, claims that blocking foreign legal systems from being applied in Kansas will guarantee that the rights given by state and federal constitutions will not be infringed upon.

The governor released a signing statement, communicated to the press via a spokeswoman, which said that the measure will “make it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.” Additionally, a spokesman from the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA), a Michigan based advocacy group which bills itself as “a non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting U.S. constitutional rights” and was partially responsible for bringing the bill into action, said that the measure is merely meant to protect American rights and is not intended to discriminate against any religion.

Muslim praying in Islamic fashion

Despite the implications of this new Kansan law, it may have been inspired by fear of Islam, Muslims, and Shariah law.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington DC based Muslim group, thinks otherwise. It has spoken out against the bill by pointing out that many of its supporters advocated for it due to the way it would block practices approved and advocated by Shariah law from occurring in the U.S. Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman, claims the bill both promotes discrimination against and is a political attack on Muslims. Many of the legislators who voted in favor of the law were also skeptical about its true intentions and targets, despite its seemingly broad and bland nature. A statement on the APPA’s website, which says “America has unique laws of liberty which do not exist in other foreign legal systems, particularly Shariah Law”, also calls the intentions behind their support of the Kansas law into question.

In this context, Shariah law is the set of religious laws set forth by the Quran and the practices of Muhammad. Only six countries currently have Shariah implemented at state level without the presence of other legal systems. All of these countries are located in the Middle East and North Africa.

All of the above begs the following question: is a law that is a) facially neutral in the way it treats legal codes espoused by religious groups but b) has a disparate impact (i.e. has a discriminatory effect in practice) a fair addition to Kansas’ legal code? The legislators in Kansas’ House of Representatives and Senate certainly think so, despite the way it appears to be targeted against Shariah Law and Muslims by proxy. Furthermore, is this law just if it is intended to discriminate against Muslims, or has an effect that would appear to discriminate against Muslims, but does not actually harm the well-being of Muslims in practice? Many of the advocates of this bill would certainly want to make you think so; “no harm, no foul”, right? Let us know what you think the answers to the above two questions are and whether or not the Kansas governor, Senate, and House of Representatives have stepped over the line by allowing this law to come into effect.

One Comment

  1. Sherman Rappenecker says:

    God respects us and He gave us the possibility to decide. Each of us chose the way we see things and the world around us. It’s vital what we feed ourselves on what we see, hear and meditate on. We need to feed ourselves on God’s word, because in this way our eyes will be enlightened to what we have in Christ Jesus.

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