Tennessee amends anti-Shariah bill

March 25, 2011

(RNS) Tennessee lawmakers are rewriting a bill that described Islamic
law as a threat to U.S. security and seemed to equate peaceful Muslim
practices with terrorism.


State Sen. Bill Ketron and House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny,
both Republicans, offered the revision after questions arose about the
proposed bill's constitutionality.


"The revision reflects our original intention to prevent or deter
violent or terrorist acts, but does so without any room for
misinterpretation regarding the language's affect on peaceful religious
practices," said Ketron.


Muslim and civil liberty organizations strongly criticized the
original bill, saying its focus on Shariah law unfairly targeted Muslims
and equated religious rituals such as dietary restrictions with
terrorism.


The bill now contains no references to Islam, but will allow
Tennessee to prosecute those who offer financial or material support to
known terrorist entities.


"I think it's a victory for common sense and legislative
restraint," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, told The Tennessean. "This is a win for
Tennessee's Muslim community."