Saturday, January 14, 2012

Allowing Islamic Sharia law in America by way of precedent.

I have written about certain Muslim groups in America who have petitioned courts to allow Sharia law to be applied to cases rather than U.S. Civil Law. In a few of these cases the courts have allowed it then reversed the rulings upon appeal in higher courts. But every religion has their own beliefs and laws and Islamic Sharia Law is only one of them. Here in Kentucky a particular group of Amish men who belong to a conservative breakaway group of Amish known as Swartzentruber have refused to carry the reflective orange triangle signs on the back of their buggies to warn motorists of their presence because the buggies do not carry lights. Ten men from this sect were arrested and a court in Mayfield, Kentucky sentenced one of them to 10 days in jail for refusing to pay the fine. The others have not yet been sentenced. According to the Kentucky Post web site: "The men have a religious objection to the bright orange signs, which they say are flashy and conflict with their pledge to live low-key and religious lives." The group has appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court to grant them an exception to this law. If such an exception is allowed, then the precedent will open the door to allow any religious group to ask for other exceptions to their own laws. And that includes Islamic groups who want to replace our laws with Sharia Law.
The ugly fact about precedent is that once it starts there is no end to it. Thankfully, the courts have rejected appeals to have Sharia Law applied to terrorist cases when the defendants claim they did nothing wrong because their religion allowed their actions. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known as the Underwear Bomber who attempted to blow up a Detroit bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009, was on trial in U.S. District Court. According to a story posted on The Blaze, on September 14, 2011, "Earlier on Wednesday, the debate over Islamic law found its way back into the headlines when a judge refused Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s request to be judged by Islamic, rather than American, law. He expressed disappointment with Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds’ decision. He reiterated his belief that the Quran, Islam’s holy book, should set the rules governing his case."

But minor cases involving non-criminal matters between members of the same religion have found courts allowing religious law to be applied. A Florida appeals court has just cleared the way for lawsuit over a monetary dispute at a mosque to be determined by Islamic Sharia law -- in a U.S. court.  Despite the fact that this went to a Federal Court and not a State court, it is still nothing new since Jewish Talmudic law has been equally applied to monetary disputes and Talmudic Courts even exist in the orthodox Jewish communities in New York City. 
But the distinction needs to be made between monetary disputes and criminal law. On the web site Townhall, there is an excellent article entitled "The Shariah Threat" by Kathy Jessup that brings to light the extreme cases of this problem. One case that almost slipped through the cracks was thankfully overturned.

In New Jersey a judge refused a protection order for a woman raped by her Muslim husband, ruling the man’s abuse is allowed under Shariah law.
In 2008, a New Jersey judge ruled Shariah permitted a Moroccan man to rape his Muslim wife, despite state law making it a crime. The New Jersey Appeals Court overturned that decision and remanded the case, finally allowing the woman to get a restraining order against her husband while she sought a divorce. The appeals court decision said neither Shariah law, giving a husband physical authority over his wife, nor Muslim beliefs on the role of women provided the man an exemption from criminal intent under U.S. statutes.
While no one can see any hostile threat to a group of Amish men objecting to carrying traffic signs on their horse-drawn buggies, the fact that it was a criminal matter that warranted jail time for refusal to pay the fines makes it a matter of grave precedent that cannot be ignored. I hope the Kentucky Supreme Court agrees with this.

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