Fanning fears?

Credit: Mark Hancock

His remarks came after Fallin signed House Bill 1060, which prohibits foreign laws from being enforced in Oklahoma courtrooms. Authored by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, the legislation evolved after a federal appeals court ruled that a similar measure, State Question 755, was unconstitutional because it singled out Sharia law.

Considered the moral code and religious law of the Islam faith, Sharia law covers a wide spectrum of topics that range from crime and economics to diet and prayer.

Passage of HB 1060 was “an attempt to attack the same issue” as SQ 755, Soltani said. “We believe it is targeting the Oklahoma Islamic population.”

He said the legislation could heighten anti-Muslim sentiments.

“That’s
what we’re afraid of,” Soltani said. “Why are people like … Kern
trying to demonize Oklahoma Muslims and outlaw our way of life? They
should embrace the diversity of Oklahomans.”

The
new law, Soltani charges, is confusing and likely will be challenged in
court. CAIR is working with the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) on a possible appeal.

“What
does it achieve when there already are safeguards in place to protect
Oklahoma and federal laws?” he asked. “You’re providing a solution in
search of a problem.”

Adam Soltani
Credit: Mark Hancock

Although
HB 1060 prohibits individuals from using foreign laws in Oklahoma
courts, it does not mandate the same restrictions for businesses and
corporations.

“What
we’re trying to determine is if a [legal] challenge is appropriate and
how will we challenge it,” said Brady Henderson, ACLU legal director.

Foul play
Kern
said she’s confident the new measure, which Fallin signed April 18,
will not spur discrimination or violence toward Muslims.

“Oklahomans
are very kind and have good, strong values in working with others,” she
said. “That (anti- Muslim sentiment) was not the intent of the bill,
and I don’t believe that will be the outcome of it.”

Some
in the state’s Muslim community worry that bigotry was behind the April
27 desecration of an Oklahoma City mosque. Vandals spray-painted the
building with profanities and a drawing of what appeared to be a penis,
according to investigators. The FBI is investigating the incident as a
possible hate crime, but no suspects have been arrested, said agency
spokesman Rick Raines.

Investigators
said they are unsure if the vandalism was connected to the Boston
Marathon bombings, in which the alleged perpetrators were two Chechen
Muslim brothers.

Still defending
Kern
acknowledged she doesn’t know of any criminal or civil court case that
allowed Sharia law to supersede Oklahoma’s statutes. “It’s prudent,” she
said, “to protect citizens before something happens.”

Sally Kern

Fallin’s
communications director, Alex Weintz, said the governor signed the
measure as a “reaffirmation of the principle that the laws we recognize
in Oklahoma are the laws of Oklahoma and the laws of the United States,
not foreign laws.”

He
added that HB 1060 is not a “condemnation, or even a commentary, on any
religion. The governor condemns religious persecution of any kind.”

Soltani is unconvinced. He said he reached out to the governor and her spokesman but never received a response.

Soltani
compared the fear of American-Muslims to the panic U.S. leaders
demonstrated by forcing 110,000 Japanese-Americans into internment camps
following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“It’s
exactly the same thing. But many others have faced this challenge,
particularly African-Americans and the Japanese-Americans,” he said.

“It
just makes things harder when our state representatives are doing
things like this. We don’t know what [Kern’s] concerns are or why she
and other representatives are targeting the Muslim community. Where do
you draw the line? Our biggest concern is this is just the beginning.”


Hey! Read This:

Tim Farley

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