Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update: ‘Will Islamic law ever be a part of the U.S. legal system?’

Last night, I attended the event at the First Amendment Center addressing the topic of Sharia law. The room was full. Many activist in the anti-Muslim movement and other conservative activist I recognize were there. The event was peaceful and most people were respectful and polite. There was some under-the-breath mumbling and dismissive light laughter however when the defenders of the First Amendment and those who were dismissive of the supposed threat of Sharia Law made their points. During the Q & A session, some of the anti-Sharia folks in attendance were like anxious kids in a classroom who know the answer to a question and they were enthusiastically waving their hands wanted to be called upon for the opportunity to ask a question.  When called upon however, they usually wanted to make a statement rather than ask a question.
 
Moderator Gene Policinski, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the First Amendment Center did an excellent job in giving all members of the panel an opportunist to be heard and in moderating the question and answer session.  He did prod questioners with the occasional, "Do you have a question?" and he did have to tell some who wanted to make speeches that their time was up.  He was very fair and balanced in conducting the meeting and let questioners have a lot of latitude, yet still kept the event from turning into a circus.

Below is very factual report on the event from Knoxnews.com. This is an unsigned article, but I want to commend the author for a very detailed and accurate description of the event. There is no use me saying more about the event when this writer does such an excellent job of reporting. Rod Williams

Shariah Law Sparks Lively Debate
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A panel exploring whether Islamic law — Shariah — could ever become part of the U.S. legal system produced some emotional fireworks last night at the First Amendment Center.

Lawmakers in at least 13 states, including Tennessee, have filed bills that would bar judges from considering Shariah law in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Advocates for such measures warn against any application of Islam’s religious tenets in the U.S. Opponents say such laws are not needed, and that the proposals simply reflect an out-of-control “Islamophobia” aimed at restricting the presence and religious beliefs of Muslims.

Panel members — and the audience — reflected both views, heatedly at times.

Bill French, who writes under the name Bill Warner, said history had shown encroachments by Islamic law in non-Muslim societies. French founded and directs the Center for the Study of Political Islam in Nashville. (continue reading)

Aug. 22 discussion at First Amendment Center

A discussion of the potential application of Islamic law in the United States, and proposals to limit or prevent that possibility, will be held at 7:30 p.m. CT, Monday, Aug. 22, at the First Amendment Center, 1207 18th Ave. South, Nashville.

Earlier this year, at least 13 states – including Tennessee – had legislative measures filed that would bar judges from considering Sharia law in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Advocates for such measures warn against any application of Islam’s religious tenets in the U.S. legal system. Opponents say such laws are not needed and that the proposals simply reflect an out-of-control “Islamaphobia” aimed at restricting the presence and religious beliefs of Muslims.

Panel members for the discussion will include:
  • Bill Warner, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI).
  • Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee.
Gene Policinski, senior vice president/executive director of the First Amendment Center, will moderate the discussion. Other panel members may be added.

There is no charge for admission, but there is limited seating. To reserve a seat, call 615-727-1333, no later than noon, Monday, Aug. 22. Limited parking is available across from the Seigenthaler Center, on the first floor only of the parking garage.

The forum is being held in cooperation with the School of Journalism at Middle Tennessee State University, which is hosting a conference for journalists on “Covering Islam in the Bible Belt” at the First Amendment Center. The three-day conference, which features veteran reporters and experts in Islamic history and culture, is intended to provide journalists with resources to help them report on issues involving Muslim communities. The McCormick Foundation is funding the conference, one of six Specialized Reporting Institutes in 2011.
The First Amendment Center, with offices at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum and the Diversity Institute. Its affiliation with Vanderbilt University is through the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies. Its offices on the Vanderbilt campus are in the John Seigenthaler Center.

The center’s programs provide education and information to the public and groups including First Amendment scholars and experts, educators, government policy makers, legal experts and students. The center is nonpartisan and does not lobby or litigate.
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I have made my reservations. Regarding the efforts to ban Sharia law, I am one of those who tend to think "such laws are not needed and that the proposals simply reflect an out-of-control “Islamaphobia” aimed at restricting the presence and religious beliefs of Muslims."  I am not unaware of what is going on in Europe and I am not unaware of the nature of Islamic theocratic states. You do not have to send me any stories of women being stoned to death for adultery or other such horrors that occur in the Middle East. I am not uninformed. I have attended meetings of ACT and I have watched the video's and visited the web sites of the anti-Muslim organizations. 

I think Islamization cannot happen here because, unlike Europe, we have a strong constitution and because Muslims are a very tiny minority. I think we have an almost zero chance of falling under Sharia law.  I believe most Muslim Americans are assimilated or will assimilate and they will moderate unless we isolate them. Constantly feeling under attack however, may radicalize Muslims. Those investing their time in this battle, I think, are quite frankly wasting their time. I think those wanting to ban the construction of mosque are not defenders of the constitution. One cannot claim to love the Constitution and work to deny First Amendment rights to Muslims. Rod Williams

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1 comment:

  1. Brian J. Buchanan, of the First Amendment Center, wrote the article reprinted by the Knoxville paper. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/shariah-law-sparks-lively-debate

    ReplyDelete