Anti-sharia laws proliferate as Trump strikes hostile tone toward Muslims

Source: The Guardian

By  in New York

Twenty-three bills have been introduced in 18 state legislatures this year to ban the practice of Islamic law – critics say the aim is to spread fear about Muslims

People demonstrate against allowing an Islamic community center near Ground Zero at a rally in lower Manhattan on 11 September 2010 in New York. The anti-sharia law movement became a force in the wake of the controversy.
 People demonstrate against allowing an Islamic community center near Ground Zero at a rally in lower Manhattan on 11 September 2010 in New York. The anti-sharia law movement became a force in the wake of the controversy. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Anti-sharia legislation is spreading in state legislatures across the US, as Donald Trump’s hostile stance towards Muslims appears to be emboldening rightwing Islamaphobes.

In 2017 there were 23 new bills introduced in 18 states attempting to prohibit the practice of Islamic religious law, or sharia, in US courts. The rash of new bills brings the total number of such legislative efforts since 2010 to 217 in 43 states, according to the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley which monitors the anti-sharia movement.

Legal experts point out that the bills are superfluous, as the US constitution is the supreme law of the land and any foreign laws are subservient to it. Sharia itself is less a set of laws than religious guidelines, one of which requires Muslims to be law-abiding according to the rules of whichever country they find themselves.

But Elsadig Elsheikh, director of the global justice program at the Haas Institute that carried out the research, said the purpose of the bills was to spread fear about Muslims living in America and to portray them as untrustworthy and out of step with American values. “Even if these bills do not become law they help to subject Muslims to surveillance and other forms of exclusion and discrimination,” he said.

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