Muslim advocacy group sues over Okla. Shariah ban

November 5, 2010

(RNS) A Muslim advocacy group filed suit Thursday (Nov. 4) in
Oklahoma, saying a just-passed amendment forbidding judicial use of
Islamic law is unconstitutional.

The suit, filed by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, seeks a federal district court's order to
prevent board of elections officials from enacting the constitutional
amendment. Seventy percent of Oklahoma voters Tuesday approved State
Question 755, which bans the use of Shariah law in state courts.

Muneer Awad called the amendment a "gross transgression of the
Establishment Clause" that would denigrate his faith. His 27-page
complaint notes that the amendment's author, state Rep. Rex Duncan, said
the amendment would ensure that courts did not "undermine" the
"Judeo-Christian principles" on which America was founded.

"The only interest consistent with both the language and operation
of the Shariah Ban is an interest in harming an unpopular minority,"
Awad's complaint reads. "The goal was to stigmatize Islam by
establishing in the public's mind that Islam is something foreign and to
be feared."

Awad said the law will also restrict his freedom to exercise his
religion because courts would not be able to follow the instructions in
his will that refer to Shariah law.