Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sharia?

The Mesquite Local News of Mesquite, Nevada reports that Senate hopeful Sharron Angle, speaking at a rally on Wednesday, noted, quite out of context

Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under Constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don't know how that happened in the United States. It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.

I don't know what the deal is with Frankford, Texas. Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars writes "I'm not entirely sure what Angle is trying to say here. She said she doesn't know "how that happened in the United States. How what happened?" (emphasis Belle's).

One is tempted to say: it doesn't matter what she meant- such is the state generally of conservatism in the age of the Tea Party movement and, not surprisingly, with Sharron Angle supporters.

But she is talking about something. I don't know what the deal is with Frankford, Texas and have been unable to find out about Dearborn from an objective source. However, according to the right-wing legal institute, the Thomas More Law Center, handling the matter for the (four) defendants, here is what happened in Michigan:

Late Friday evening, a jury of six Dearborn, Michigan residents returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of breach of the peace charges, which were brought by the Dearborn Police Department against four Christian evangelists as they were peacefully proselytizing to Muslim youths during the Arab International Festival on June 18, 2010.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national Christian public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, represented the evangelists, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, Negeen Mayel and David Wood, at no charge. The jury returned its verdict after an hour and half of deliberations. Nageen Mayel was found guilty of failing to obey a police officer—a charge unrelated to the actual incident, which will most likely be reversed on appeal.

Robert Muise, the Law Center’s Senior Trial Counsel, handled the five-day trial. The prosecutor placed seven witnesses on the stand including Chief of Police, Ron Haddad.

Even after the acquittals, Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, continued his ongoing and unprecedented personal attacks on the Christian evangelists, accusing them of being anti–Muslim bigots. O’Reilly’s continuous anti-Christian rhetoric was clearly an attempt to curry favor with Dearborn’s large Muslim population, which also explains the Police Department’s alarming mobilization to arrest the four Christians.

This case might have had something to do with Sharia Law. But if it did, Angle ought to explain how because it certainly isn't clear. The Council on Foreign Relations explains

Marriage and divorce are the most significant aspects of sharia, but criminal law is the most controversial. In sharia, there are categories of offenses: those that are prescribed a specific punishment in the Quran, known as hadd punishments, those that fall under a judge's discretion, and those resolved through a tit-for-tat measure (ie., blood money paid to the family of a murder victim). There are five hadd crimes: unlawful sexual intercourse (sex outside of marriage and adultery), false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse, wine drinking (sometimes extended to include all alcohol drinking), theft, and highway robbery. Punishments for hadd offenses--flogging, stoning, amputation, exile, or execution--get a significant amount of media attention when they occur. These sentences are not often prescribed, however. "In reality, most Muslim countries do not use traditional classical Islamic punishments," says Ali Mazrui of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies in a Voice of America interview. These punishments remain on the books in some countries but lesser penalties are often considered sufficient.

Marriage and divorce, adultery, drinking, theft, highway robbery, stoning and other extreme punishment- whatever does any of these have to do with the arrest (and acquittal, no less) of 3-4 individuals for disorderly conduct? The arrests may have been triggered by excessive deference to the perceived sensibilities of the huge Arab/Arab-American population of Dearborn or to an overzealous response by law enforcement authorities. Or perhaps to both, and we await Sharron Angle's expression of concern over what appear to have been an overreaction by police.

Eric Kleefeld notes in Talking Points Memo "It's quite interesting that Angle is warning against a system of religious law taking control of the United States -- she has herself alleged that the Democrats' policies violate the First Commandment to acknowledge God as supreme." Another irony: while the far right's candidate in Nevada laments "allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality," it is the conservative institute representing the defendants whose statement best refutes Angle: The bottom line in the jury’s not guilty verdict: the Constitution, not Shariah law, still prevails in Dearborn, Michigan.” And, as far as has been shown, everywhere else in the U.S.A.



1 comment:

Haecceitas said...

The part that is relevant to Sharia has to do with the fact that under Sharia, Muslims are not allowed to leave their religion and non-Muslims aren't allowed to convert Muslims to another religion. Certainly it's not a matter of full-fledged Sharia being imposed in Dearborn. For clarification on the views of these four Christian missionaries (whose perspective was absent from the CNN story) see http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2010/10/mayor-john-oreilly-spreads-more.html

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