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Does 'Sharia Law' Have A Place In American Politics?


Sharia law, or the idea of it, has been playing an increasingly important role in this year's midterm elections, thanks in part to plans for a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. Some of the references to Sharia law have been hateful, while others illuminating, but all show that this concept moves in mysterious political ways.

Conservative leaders such as Newt Gingrich have warned that Sharia law is insinuating itself into our beloved American institutions. "We should have a federal law that says sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States," he said last month, while discussing the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," which he called "an effort to impose Sharia law."

Sharron Angle, the Republican Senate candidate from Nevada, also suggested last month that American towns Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, which she says have large Islamic immigrant populations, had been overtaken by Sharia law.

"We're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe isn't a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it," said Angle, after being asked about "Muslims taking over the U.S."

"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," she opined. "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."

Meanwhile, a group called "Veterans Against Jihad" recently threw itself into the crusade to "awaken American Citizens to Islam's Jihadist religious mandate." Clearly these views are incendiary, dangerous, and, as Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly Jr. said in a letter to Angle, entirely off base.

“I am deeply distressed that you have been misled about our community and the way that we conduct our affairs," wrote O'Reilly. "I am afraid that many share the perception that Muslims have only recently immigrated to this area and are imposing their culture on our region... Muslims have been practicing their faith in our community for almost 90 years without incident or conflict.”
But the specter of Sharia law swings both ways: Sen. Jim DeMint's was roundly criticized earlier this month for saying that sexually active single women and gay people shouldn't teach in schools. Opponents compared his remarks to, yes, Sharia law, and even the Washington Post described his comments as "DeMint's Sharia Law." Along the same lines of using Sharia law to hammer the right wing, there's Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson's ad comparing his opponent, Dan Webster to the Taliban.

Grayson's commercial was panned for taking Webster's words out of context, yes, but the message still heard loud and clear: right wing conservatives like Webster, who pals around with "gay regulating" Christian nationalist David Barton, have politics that are just as oppressive as those espoused by Islamic fundamentalists, the very same people conservatives criticize.

Sharia law has, for better or for worse, become a major player in American politics. It's become rhetorical pawn, and can employed by either sides of the ideological divide to stoke xenophobic fear or to highlight radical, oppressive politics that single out women and gay men. And, with election day nearing, voters need to decide not whether they should be worried about encroaching 'Sharia law," but how the concept should be used on American political field, if at all.

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  1. At the end of the day, there's only one legal system in this country, no a special one for certain religious groups. That's life. Does Sharia Law have a place in politics? If it's positioned as an alternative to existing law, then yes.

    Posted by: Joey Y | Oct 12, 2010 11:52:06 AM

  2. First of all, why is this even an issue? America has its own set of laws that supercede anything else that may come along with any immigrant group.

    Second of all, it's about time someone openly compared the right wing American extremists to the religious extremists they rail against. They really are two sides of the same coin. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of people parsing religion and words to say what suits their needs in that particular moment. Why is it okay to espouse hate in the name of christianity while denouncing another group for doing exactly the same thing? The hypocrisy is astounding.

    Posted by: MT | Oct 12, 2010 11:52:27 AM

  3. the only sharia law in this country that worries me is the one that our right wing fundies want us all to live by.

    Posted by: alguien | Oct 12, 2010 11:58:01 AM

  4. Frankford, Texas no longer exists as a city or any other entity. It has no independent governance. Hasn't for 35 years. It became part of Dallas as Big D grew around it, so it is impossible for it to be governed by Sharia law.

    Posted by: Craig | Oct 12, 2010 11:58:30 AM

  5. Handbook of Texas Online (http://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/hvf82.html):
    FRANKFORD, TEXAS. Frankford was nine miles northwest of Richardson in extreme southwestern Collin County. Settlement of the area began around a campsite on the Shawnee Trail near a small spring on Halls Branch, used in the 1850s and 1860s as a stopping point and watering hole for traildrivers and other travelers. [...] By the mid-1930s the town was no longer shown on county highway maps. Its church building was restored in 1963 by the Frankford Cemetery Association, which arranged for the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion to worship there. The city of Dallas annexed the area in 1975, and in 1990 local children attended the Plano schools. All that remained of the community in 1990 was the Frankford Church and Cemetery, adjoined by residences on three sides and by the Bent Tree Country Club to the south.

    Posted by: Craig | Oct 12, 2010 12:03:34 PM

  6. No. Also stupid question.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 12, 2010 12:14:35 PM

  7. The cartoon "This Modern World" has a great cartoon on the mystery of liberal indifference to the threat of Sharia law. It's available on line and worth checking out.

    Posted by: Butch | Oct 12, 2010 12:17:14 PM

  8. More election year fear mongering from Tea Party idiots who need a civics lesson. No "alternative" legal system can supersede the federal constitution. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. A city council doesn't have the authority to pass a law legalizing beheadings at noon.

    Got it?

    Posted by: John | Oct 12, 2010 12:18:41 PM

  9. Sorry, but that's a complete BS post. Is nothing real going on?

    Posted by: Chris | Oct 12, 2010 12:21:19 PM

  10. Gingrich doesn't want Sharia Law in this country, he just wants Christian Fundamentalist Law in this country, except when it might be applied to anything he might be guilty of.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Oct 12, 2010 12:22:08 PM

  11. Should we start a betting pool now as to how many days it will be before one of the Teabagger candidates insanely opines something like "They're trying to impose Sharia Law on us all by legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing gays in the military!"

    I'm guessing by the end of this week. No, change that: by the end of the day. No, wait: the end of this hour?

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Oct 12, 2010 12:23:05 PM

  12. Yes, Sharia Law is replacing the Constitution, Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and Lady Gaga only features girl-girl action in her videos.

    How silly.

    Posted by: crispy | Oct 12, 2010 12:24:03 PM

  13. This demonstrates that Sharron Angle, again, doesn't really know what she's talking about.

    "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."

    Someone should put a map in front of her and ask her to find Sharia on it.

    As MT says, Sharia law and a lot of what US Christian religious activist politicians want to impose are two sides of the same coin. Religious law is religious law, no matter who's religion it is.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 12, 2010 12:26:33 PM

  14. The people freaking out about sharia law are the very same people who call the United States a "Christian nation" and want to impose the Christian equivalent of sharia here.

    We hate in others what we most despise in ourselves.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Oct 12, 2010 12:32:44 PM

  15. As an outsider to US culture, I cannot speak to how muslim communities do/ not integrate in urban America. However, there is only only law in the USA, and Sharia Law should have no place in the Judeo Christian tradition. Angle, of course, also refuses to see the logic of her own extremism.

    I'd respect you more if you didn't allow the beauty of unhindered free speech in a demcratic society to be abused by morons who cause harm by their veiled hate speech.

    Posted by: Sean R | Oct 12, 2010 12:37:52 PM

  16. The u.s. is a christian nation. That's unfortunate. Also unfortunate is that that backward, hate filled system of law that harms just about everyone it comes into contact, sharia, exists. But no...this is particularly stupid fearmongering.

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 12, 2010 12:40:50 PM

  17. What I fucking hate about this post, and about every other fake news item on this topic, is that NO ONE can give even one single example of a law that was enacted in any of these communities -- or even a law that was PROPOSED -- that somehow relies on "Sharia Law" as its basis instead of classic American law. It really seems to be a completely empty, toothless meme. Can we have some actual REPORTING here please, with FACTS? Thank you.

    Posted by: GMB | Oct 12, 2010 12:47:13 PM

  18. It's really plain simple. You're in America, you are governed by American laws, not Sharia, not jewish, etc. You want a law added to the American - you have the politicians add it. Under no circumstances should we let any religious groups impose their own law - every time this happens, rights get trampled, strange things happen, and justice is not served. They tried it in Ontario, and it failed, the whole thing was thrown out as bad rubbish.

    Posted by: Belcat | Oct 12, 2010 1:06:25 PM

  19. I mean if you want a good post try:

    "Sharia Law in America? Already here."

    Post about how most of our dumb laws have a religious start and how if you oppose sharia law you should also be pro-separation of church and state, which Tea baggers arent. Boom, story with conflict.

    Creepy right wing towleroad wankers make stupid comments. I make some pithy comment.

    We all forget about it in 40 min.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 12, 2010 1:11:45 PM

  20. Sad, these idiots don't even know their own laws. If they did they would realize that any other countries laws don't supersede ours.

    Posted by: jakeinlove | Oct 12, 2010 1:12:08 PM

  21. It's so strange to me that these right wingnuts don't see that they are imposing their own sharia law...........wake up people

    Posted by: John Normile | Oct 12, 2010 1:12:09 PM

  22. This is so silly. I'm not sure how so many republicans have become convinced that sharia law is coming to America. We will never let that happen and that is really not a reality. Muslims will never have a significant majority in this country, or even in a region, and most muslims who immigrate here are not fans of sharia law (that's why some of them here). Also, by the time those immigrants are second generation, things like sharia law don't matter.

    Republicans are just scaring up racist fears. What we really need to focus on is getting CHRISTIAN laws out of our system who are trying ruin the lives of Gay americans. Christian republicans are taking the heat off of their own bigoted laws.

    Posted by: Joe | Oct 12, 2010 1:12:10 PM

  23. If you guys think fundalmentalist Christians are bad...fundamentalist Muslims make them look like the Mickey Mouse Club.

    Just ask the woman in Afghanistan who had her nose and ears cut off by her husband. When her own family and villagers would not help her - guess who did? US soldiers. And US soldiers brought her here to get healed.

    Just because I disagree with Sharon Angle and think she is a homophobe does not mean that I am happy to have more anti-gay religion into this country.


    Muslims don't like gays either. Think about that. Just because you hate Sharon Angle does not mean you should be jumping for joy about the muslim religion. You sound like idiots.

    Posted by: Tell it like it is | Oct 12, 2010 1:13:24 PM

  24. @GMB I would like to echo your sentiment in a way. Quite literally no one, no polititian, no newspaper, news site, news station, news reporter, or anyone else has given a single, solid example.

    If only the conservatives could see that religious law, no matter whose religion it is, is a bad idea and completely contrary to the ACTUAL Constitution (vs the "Christian Nation" Constitution they think they are defending).

    Posted by: ravewulf | Oct 12, 2010 1:14:15 PM

  25. The US constitution prevents any and all instituting of any religious law wether xtian, jewish, muslim, budhist, etc

    The muslim built interfaith youth gathering place proposed near the world trade center site is not what brought up this nonsense. Newt gingrich and other wackadoddle rethugs in the spirit of Goebbels , hitler's propaganda minister brought this crap up to stir the pot and motivate their base

    any state or county that somehow messes up simply has to go to the supreme court to have whatever law invalidated due to article 1 of the bill of rights

    The rethugs are idiots that dont even understand their own government system


    the "Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas" stuff is probably refering to a divorce case between 2 muslims that a local judge allowed to go through a muslim arbitration thing to settle the divorce. JUST as the USA court system allows orthodox Jews to handle divorce through their own outside the court system arbitration religious system then return to court to have the judge stamp approved on it

    It is not the usa embracing nonsense sharia law unless one also wishes to claim that the usa is embracing ultraorthodox torah nonsense

    The USA constitution is not based on torah or xtianista testament laws if anyone wishes to make such a claim. USA law is based on pagan brithish common law that predated the jews even setting foot in the isles as well as neo classicalism interpretations of pagan roman and greek systems with a good dash of iriquios nation stuff thrown in

    Enough already with the nonsense and enough with the enabeling. these people r coo-coo

    The Usa constitution bill of rights article 1 protects all americans from ANY establishment of any religious law anywhere on usa soil

    Posted by: mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com | Oct 12, 2010 1:26:39 PM

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