Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, January 9, 2011
Indiana Lawmakers Asked Not to Consider Anti-Islam Bill
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/9/11) --
A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization said today (1/4/11) that it is calling on Indiana state legislators not to consider what it terms a "fear-mongering" anti-Islam bill when the lawmakers reconvene in Indianapolis tomorrow.
In a joint letter mailed recently to all members of the Indiana General Assembly, the Washington, D.C., and Chicago offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote in part:
"As the General Assembly reconvenes for the coming year, we would like to reach out to you regarding a bill that Representative Bruce Borders has indicated he intends to introduce in the House of Representatives. Representative Borders's bill is un-American to its core. The bill will divide Indiana residents rather than unite them. It will communicate to the nation and the world that Indiana unconstitutionally deprives religious minorities of the freedom to practice their faith. We are seeking your commitment not to allow Representative Borders's bill to be considered by the House.
"Representative Borders plans on introducing a bill proclaiming that 'Indiana does not recognize Sharia law.' He believes this action is justified because 'there is a push in some states to recognize Sharia law with its own court system.' However, Mr. Borders is wrong to think that Muslims are seeking to impose 'Sharia Law' over and above state and federal law.
"What Representative Borders ominously calls 'Sharia Law' is nothing more than the religious traditions that Muslims use to guide the practice of their faith. Much like other faiths, these religious traditions inform individuals in everyday decisions involving marriage, business transactions and estate planning. Muslims are not seeking to impose their religious traditions onto the government. As a recent editorial from the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute made clear, such fears are 'not even worthy of backburner status' during the General Assembly's upcoming session.
"Representative Borders's proposed legislation attacks Indiana's Muslim community by treating Islam's religious traditions differently than those from other faiths. From probating wills to enforcing contracts, government agencies and courts often consider religion in their decisions. Treating Muslims differently is manifestly unconstitutional."
CAIR's letter noted that a federal judge recently granted an injunction that barred certification of a similar anti-Islam state ballot measure passed in Oklahoma.
The letter to Indiana lawmakers stated: "It is our hope that you will have similar foresight and refuse to indulge in the fear-mongering that Representative Borders's bill embodies."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166,
E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR-Chicago Civil Rights Director Christina Abraham, 312-212-1520, 847-971-7989:
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171,
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