[Editor’s note: the following article was originally published at National Review Online.]
As Americans learn more about Islam, the aspect they find most objectionable is not its theology (such as whether Allah is God or not) nor its symbolism (such as an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan) but its law code, called the Sharia. Rightly, they say no to a code that privileges Muslims over non-Muslims, men over women, and contains many elements inimical to modern life.
Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, gave the danger of Sharia unprecedented public attention in July when he blasted its “principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world” and called for a federal law that “says no court anywhere in the United States under any circumstance is allowed to consider Sharia as a replacement for American law.”
Despite some stirrings in this direction, no such federal law exists. But legislatures in two states,Tennessee and Louisiana, recently passed laws effectively blocking applications of Sharia that violate existing laws and public policy. And, in a referendum on Nov. 2, the voters in Oklahoma likewise voted 70 to 30 percent to amend their state constitution.
Although applauded by moderate Muslims such as Zuhdi Jasser, passage of the “Save Our State Amendment” alarmed Islamists. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, accurately accused of aiming “to overthrow constitutional government in the United States,” nevertheless convinced a federal district judge to impose a on the state election board from certifying the amendment.
A full court hearing could helpfully stimulate further public debate over applying the Sharia. In this spirit, let’s look more closely at the just-passed Oklahoma amendment, State Question 755. It limits Oklahoma courts to relying exclusively “on federal and state law when deciding cases.” Conversely, it rejects “international law” in general and it specifically “forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law,” where it defines the latter as Islamic law “based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.”
Popular criticism of the amendment vacillates between two contradictory responses, claiming it’s either discriminatory or superfluous.