The fight over State Question 755 ” which would ban the use of Islamic and international law in state court rulings ” hasn’t been easy, said Muneer Awad, but it has been worth it.
Following the state question’s passage by around 70 percent of voters in November, Awad, who is the director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed suit in federal court.
The court has since issued a preliminary injunction against the measure’s certification and the state Election Board has voted to appeal the ruling.
Besides banning the use of international law in state court rulings, SQ 755 prohibits Shariah, or Islamic law, defined in the referendum as being “based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.”
After winning a temporary restraining order, and then a preliminary injunction on the measure’s certification, Awad said he hopes to next win a permanent injunction against the state question.
The hate mail has been fairly steady since the lawsuit was filed, Awad said, but it has mostly been from the same individuals. Meanwhile, he said, the level of support for the measure has not been as steady.
“There’s been bad attention to it, but with that comes good attention,” Awad told the Oklahoma Gazette. “People have been able to think deeper about State Question 755, something they did not do before voting on it.”
Awad said he and others speaking out about the issue have been able to change a few minds, and that some who initially supported the measure now believe it was unnecessary.
“There are many people who were confident in voting for State Question 755 who have begun to realize SQ 755 isn’t what they thought it was about,” Awad said. “The difference has been the amount of people who have reached out in support. There are Oklahomans who normally wouldn’t be compelled to voice their feelings speaking out.”
Awad said CAIR has been working to explain why it does not want State Question 755 to become law by hosting and attending speaking engagements around the state.
Despite some who have reacted negatively to the judge’s ruling, not applying the state question is the only constitutional thing to do, said Saad Mohammed, director of information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City and board member of the Islamic Council of Oklahoma.
“Shariah law was never a threat to Oklahoma or America at all,” Mohammed said. “Even though we were disappointed 70 percent voted in favor of it, we’re happy that 30 percent saw it was inappropriate to put on the state ballot.”
Mohammed said the law was designed to inflame passions and is, at its core, bigoted.
“I thought it was a foolish state question that came from racism and bigotry,” Mohammed said. “There was no reason for it. It made Oklahoma look bad and backwards. It was a very, very bad thing to do.”
Thus far, there has been no huge outpouring of negativity directed toward ISGOC or the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, Mohammed said.
“The day that the judge gave her verdict, I was expecting hate mail and phone calls,” Mohammed said. “We haven’t really seen anything yet, but the week is kind of young.”
The next step is for the state attorney general’s office, which represents the state Election Board, to appeal the matter, Awad said.
Whatever the outcome, the controversy surrounding the measure has brought attention to the state, but probably not the preferred kind, Awad said.
“We understand the attorney general’s office is under an extreme amount of political pressure,” Awad said. “Right now, we just have to wait and let the process play out. The nation and world are watching Oklahoma now to see how this plays out.”
Paul Blair, the founder of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ and pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, has called the suit “absurd.”
“This amendment requires Oklahoma to use only federal law or state law in deciding all legal issues,” Blair said. “To claim that an amendment requiring the courts to use the Constitution as being ‘unconstitutional’ may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and is clearly a waste of the court’s time.” “Clifton Adcock
Saad Mohammed, director of information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Photo/Shannon Cornman