Commentary: Anti-Shariah law push could hurt Michigan’s tolerant image


By Dawud Walid

The renewed push in Michigan to pass an anti-Shariah law under the guise of restricting foreign laws is not only unnecessary but would have negative consequences for our state if passed.

Given that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that no laws, be they local, state or foreign, can trump the Constitution, it is clear that no jurisprudence contrary to federal law can supplant our supreme law. Thus, the championing of the Restriction of Application of Foreign Laws Act in Michigan is simply political theater.

Muslims of all stripes, from military veterans like myself to new immigrants, respect and obey the laws of our country just like other Americans. Moreover, we believe in civic engagement within the democratic process with hopes that our country will become a “more perfect union.”

Our concern regarding this bill mirrors similar concerns of fellow Michiganians, who also believe this legislation could hamper the free exercise of religion.

Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul Long recently stated, “Any measure that could have the impact of interfering with the internal life of the Catholic Church shall be viewed as an attack on religious liberty itself and must be opposed.”

Our courts routinely consider and order reasonable accommodation for the observance of religious laws. Moreover, arbitrators consider religious laws on matters ranging from mediating conflicts within congregations to marital breakdowns. Any bill which treats Judaic Law, Catholic Canon Law under the direction of the Pope and Islamic jurisprudence as foreign laws is, in effect, an attempt to undo a long-held American tradition as well as legal precedent.

You would think that with Gov. Rick Snyder seeking to rebrand Michigan as an inclusive state — he sees immigrants being a vital tool in rejuvenating our economy — that the sponsor of the bill to restrict foreign laws, State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, would follow suit.

Sadly, instead of Agema championing real issues such as fixing our economy and correcting our population atrophy, he has taken up the mantle of the nonexistent Shariah threat.

During this election year, politicians on both sides of the aisle are engaging in wedge issue politics, instead of working to bring our nation together for shared prosperity. It is my hope that our elected officials privately and publicly rein in their colleagues. It seems clear that in Michigan, they should start with Agema.

Dawud Walid is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — Michigan. Email comments to

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