After Deliberating For Three Minutes, Florida Senate Panel Approves Anti-Sharia Bill


By Scott Keyes

A Florida Senate panel approved a measure to ban the use of Sharia law in the Sunshine State yesterday after deliberating for just three minutes and turning dozens away who sought to give their testimony.

SB 1360, which already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, was approved by the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday by a 5-2 vote. A concurrent anti-Sharia bill in the House was also sent out of committee last week and will be voted receive a floor vote in the next few days.

The proposed legislation, which would ban the use of “foreign law,” is drawing ire not only because it’s been used as a way to attack Muslims in this country, but also because it could have a number of unintended consequences. As the Orlando Sun-Sentinel notes, many Jewish groups are calling the legislation discriminatory against them as well:

Andrew Rosenkranz, regional director for the Anti Defamation League, said that the decisions of Jewish tribunals called Bet Dins, which often handle divorce proceedings, are often converted into civil divorce decrees by the courts. But under the Senate bill, and another ready for a vote by the entire House, an observant Orthodox couple would “effectively be barred from following their faith and using a Jewish tribunal to dissolve their marriage,” he said.

“The alleged threat of Islamic, other religious or foreign law to Florida’s court system is completely illusory, and the Senate’s consideration of this measure is an unwise use of resources,” Rosenkranz said, adding that both the Florida and U.S. constitutions “already prohibit the unconstitutional application of foreign law in the courts.”

But neither representatives from the ADL [Anti-Defamation League] nor about 50 Muslims who were visiting Tallahassee as part of Muslim Day at the capital were allowed to speak at the meeting, which had more than 20 bills on the agenda and started late.

In 2011, Florida Republicans tried to pass an anti-Sharia bill, but it failed to gain approval. Proponents are hopeful they will gain enough support this year.

Last month, a similar Sharia ban in Oklahoma was ruled unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nevertheless, a number of states like Florida are pushing forward. Just two months into 2012, 22 states have introduced anti-Sharia bills.

To learn more about what Sharia law actually is (and is not), read this Center for American Progress primer. Also check out CAP’s report Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America to read about the players behind state anti-Sharia bills.

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