Category ►►► Sharia Shenanigans
August 23, 2011
They Call the Wind "Sharia"
Let's start with a simple call and response.
A national drive against citing “foreign” laws in U.S. courts -- one that critics say is a veiled attack on Islamic Shariah law -- has reached the state with the nation’s largest concentration of Muslims.
The Michigan bill, which mirrors "American Laws for American Courts" legislation introduced in more than 20 other states, was introduced in June by state Rep. Dave Agema, Grandville Republican. He has argued that it has nothing to do with Islam or the faith’s Koran-based Shariah law, but is designed to stop anyone who seeks to invoke a foreign law in state courts.
Victor Begg, a Republican and senior adviser to the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, calls the legislation "hogwash" and said it is clear there is an underlying agenda. He suggested that such measures moving through more than 20 states are part of an organized and well-funded "witch hunt" and that Islam and Muslim-Americans are the real targets.
"We are appalled that our elected officials would waste their time on something that is unnecessary," Mr. Begg said, noting Michigan’s economic woes, including one of the nation’s highest jobless rates.
"We are very unhappy that in these days and times that a large number of legislators would target a minority faith like ours. This is reminiscent of what happened to Catholics a century ago. We don’t need to go back to the Dark Ages here. We have built relationships and we do a lot of interfaith work, and we are not into civil rights, filing lawsuits and such."
Catholics? Were Catholics in the United States trying to introduce Catholic ecclesiastical law into civil and criminal courts? Were they prevented from doing so by brand new legislation forbidding the vicars of Christ from exercising temporal authority over citizens? In my readings of history, I seem to have overlooked that chapter.
In fact, the "Catholic" accusation is a complete non-sequitur, a red herring; but it's also a preemptive strike of "dawa," the promulgation and propagation of jihad by means other than actual warfare.
The American Laws for American Courts legislation can be argued either way, pro or con (though I think on the whole it's a very good idea, and I would vote for it if it was a citizens constitutional amendment).
It's certainly true that American law comes from British law, to a large extent, so we've already let the cat out of the bottle. And what about situations where a court is stuck deciding a case with virtually no American caselaw; shouldn't the court at least look at how other nations have dealt with the situation, for good or ill?
But on the other hand (how Kerryesque!), other countries almost certainly have very different ideas of due process, evidence, and the rights enjoyed by the people. Areas of conflict between foreign courts and the demands of American jurisprudence include:
- The citizen's interaction with the government, including the right to keep and bear arms, religious freedom, freedom of speech and assembly, and due process rights, all of which many countries curtail in ways that would be unconstitutional in the United States;
- The proper interaction between men and women, often abused via the acceptance of so-called "honor" killings and curtailing of women's property rights, voting rights, employment rights, and women's right to choose their own relationships (forced marriages);
- The tension between the individual and his or her community; many countries enforce a national culture by law, for example by prescribing or prohibiting unconventional clothing or hairstyle, banning certain kinds of music, literature, art, and even advertising, or confining immigrants to special zones to avoid "corrupting" the native-born;
- And the proper role of Capitalism; many foreign countries greatly mistrust private capital altogether and have criminalize "excess profit," or allow the State to sue individuals to relieve them of the fruits of their labors; others set up so many rules, regulations, and required licenses that only the well-connected can run the gauntlet to start a new business. (Alas, the United States itself is starting to heed the call of that siren temptation.)
To hijack foreign laws in order to force the United States to become one with the rest of the world would be an irrecoverable enormity that would either spell the end of American exceptionalism -- which many opponents of American Laws for American Courts would likewise denounce -- or spark another bloody American revolution to restore liberty and freedom.
But whichever side you take on the underlying sins and virtues of the legislation, one fact is demonstrably clear: The American Laws for American Courts legislation itself is facially and de facto non-sectarian. Unlike some recent state actions, it does not single out sharia law or any other specific foreign law (which would allow-by-omission the admissibility of all the rest).
I have added the model legislation for American Laws for American Courts in the "Slither on" section of this post (click to read); you can read it for yourself and judge whether it specifically and particularly attacks sharia law while allowing American courts to base decisions on other foreign courts, or whether it is even-handed and applies equally to all.
I take this version of the model legislation from the American Public Policy Alliance. On their website, they do cite sharia law as the most dangerous current incursion of foreign concepts of jurisprudence into American law; but the legislation itself singles out no particular foreign court whatsoever, not sharia, nor Communist, nor tribal principles of criminal compensation, nor the Napoleonic Code of France.
Yet despite that fact, all of the mass protest against this law -- both by sectarian groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR, essentially a front group for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, and by atheist and non-sectarian activist groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, essentially a front group for the most liberal of the Democratic National Committee) -- all the mass protest has focused exclusively on Moslems and the introduction of sharia law into many, many states of the United States.
Which, in a completely unrelated coincidence, has been accelerating of late:
A study by the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., looked at 50 appellate cases from 23 states and found that Shariah law had been applied or formally recognized in court decisions.
Those cases, said Christopher Holton, a vice president at the center, represent the tip of the iceberg in what he describes as a growing conflict in state courts, where many decisions are never publicized.
"There is no question -- Shariah principles are finding their way into our courts for years now. It’s inherently discriminatory for women -- most of these involved family law. When you get a ruling in a child custody case from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan or Egypt and it’s family law, it’s all Shariah," he said.
So how should we understand this phenomenon? I have a simple principle: When a law banning X is proposed, and a person or group vigorously opposes that law, there are only two plausible motivations:
- The opposition has no personal interest in X but is simply high-minded and believes in the liberty of others, enough so to put themselves at risk for pure principle.
- The opposition actually wants to engage in X and is angry at being thwarted; it has a deep and direct personal interest in stopping the legislation.
Consider Motivation 1: If the opponents of American Laws for American Courts are simply high-minded, then they must believe that courts should generally be allowed to cite not only sharia law but also rulings from Catholic countries like France and Italy; Protestant countries like Great Britain and Germany; the lone Jewish state of Israel; countries whose governments are very socialist and anti-religion in general, like the Netherlands, the Scandanavian countries, and Red China; and of course "international courts," such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court (both at the Hague), the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and indeed all other courts in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, the U.K., Australia, and Canada that claim "universal jurisdiction" when prosecuting "crimes against humanity."
Such noble dissenters would never single out one kind of court and one alone, because that would fly in the face of the exact principle they defend... just as a true supporter of the principle of freedom of religion cannot say, "oh, but of course I don't mean religious freedom for Mormons; that's totally different!"
But of course, that is precisely how a person or group would act if he opposed the legislation for Motivation 2 -- because he or they actually want to engage in X themselves and are fighting back when told they cannot. There is nothing inherently wrong with Motivation 2; it generally supplies far more energy to a movement than the detatched and lofty dissent emanating from Motivation 1. I would say much of the mounting opposition to Obamunism comes from people suddenly being directly hurt by that avatar of "Progressivism."
But by the same token, opponents driven by Motivation 2 are often few but fanatical, and frequently act contrary to the rights, privileges, and welfare of the many.
I think it obvious which motivation, 1 or 2, best categorizes CAIR and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; they rail against the legislation as "an organized and well-funded 'witch hunt'" whose "real targets" are "Islam and Muslim-Americans." You certainly don't hear CAIR sticking up for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. (For that matter, you also don't hear CAIR supporting the authority of American courts to try American-killing jihadis in American courts, even when the murders are committed in some Moslem dictatorship. It only applauds international precedents when they favor Islamism, sharia, and jihad, not when they attempt to hold radical Islamists accountable for their despicable deeds.)
No doubt whatsoever; the vast majority of those opposing the American Laws for American Courts legislation are doing so from an entirely self-serving motive: They have a long-term plan to fully embed sharia law into U.S. courts.
But why? Consider this: If jurisdictions within the United States codify sharia law into their public legislation, that would allow radical imams to declare the United States to be part of the ummah, the Moslem world; then, under sharia, such a declaration would make it perfectly legitimate to call for full-scale jihad against America -- bombings, assassinations, and the use of weapons of mass destruction -- to "reclaim" that "Moslem" country that is currently "occupied" by infidels.
Laws such as American Laws for American Courts are vital in order to maintain, not some racial or religious "purity of essence," but the seminal, organic principles upon which this country was founded: individual liberty, limited government, and Capitalism.
As Sam Gamgee says, there are good things in this world, and they're worth fighting for. I believe one whopping good thing worth fighting for is the American system of justice: When not being abused by traitors, seducers, and corrupters, it is still the ninth wonder of the world.
This is the model legislation suggested by the American Public Policy Alliance:
AN ACT to protect rights and privileges granted under the United States or [State] Constitution.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE [GENERAL ASSEMBLY/LEGISLATURE] OF THE STATE OF [_____]:
The [general assembly/legislature] finds that it shall be the public policy of this state to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws when the application of a foreign law will result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.
The [general assembly/state legislature] fully recognizes the right to contract freely under the laws of this state, and also recognizes that this right may be reasonably and rationally circumscribed pursuant to the state’s interest to protect and promote rights and privileges granted under the United States or [State] Constitution, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.
 As used in this act, “foreign law, legal code, or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals For the purposes of this act, foreign law shall not mean, nor shall it include, any laws of the Native American tribes in this state.
 Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this State and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.
 A contract or contractual provision (if capable of segregation) which provides for the choice of a law, legal code or system to govern some or all of the disputes between the parties adjudicated by a court of law or by an arbitration panel arising from the contract mutually agreed upon shall violate the public policy of this State and be void and unenforceable if the law, legal code or system chosen includes or incorporates any substantive or procedural law, as applied to the dispute at issue, that would not grant the parties the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.
A. A contract or contractual provision (if capable of segregation) which provides for a jurisdiction for purposes of granting the courts or arbitration panels in personam jurisdiction over the parties to adjudicate any disputes between parties arising from the contract mutually agreed upon shall violate the public policy of this State and be void and unenforceable if the jurisdiction chosen includes any law, legal code or system, as applied to the dispute at issue, that would not grant the parties the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.
B. If a resident of this state, subject to personal jurisdiction in this state, seeks to maintain litigation, arbitration, agency or similarly binding proceedings in this state and if the courts of this state find that granting a claim of forum non conveniens or a related claim violates or would likely violate the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions of the non-claimant in the foreign forum with respect to the matter in dispute, then it is the public policy of this state that the claim shall be denied.
 Without prejudice to any legal right, this act shall not apply to a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, business association, or other legal entity that contracts to subject itself to foreign law in a jurisdiction other than this state or the United States.
 This subsection shall not apply to a church, religious corporation, association, or society, with respect to the individuals of a particular religion regarding matters that are purely ecclesiastical, to include, but not be limited to, matters of calling a pastor, excluding members from a church, electing church officers, matters concerning church bylaws, constitution, and doctrinal regulations and the conduct of other routine church business, where 1) the jurisdiction of the church would be final; and 2) the jurisdiction of the courts of this State would be contrary to the First Amendment of the United States and the Constitution of this State. This exemption in no way grants permission for any otherwise unlawful act under the guise of First Amendment protection.
 This statute shall not be interpreted by any court to conflict with any federal treaty or other international agreement to which the United States is a party to the extent that such treaty or international agreement preempts or is superior to state law on the matter at issue.
April 24, 2011
Doublethink in Dearborn - the Meshugas in Michigan
Here is what passes for the new American credo from Michigan, where Rev. Terry Jones is on trial before a hastily convened jury; he is charged, it appears, with what the late Timothy Leary called "injudicious use of the First Amendment."
First, the set-up:
Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, a Koran-burning advocate who has sparked Muslim outrage worldwide, including deadly riots in Afghanistan, held court to a media throng as he defended himself in a trial here that pitted his free-speech rights against fears of public violence in the nation’s largest Arab-American community.
The hearing was a legal rarity -- a jury trial after Rev. Jones declined to pay a city-ordered peace bond that the county prosecutor said was needed to cover security costs associated with the minister’s planned protest near the nation’s largest mosque on one of Christianity’s holiest days, Good Friday. The estimated cost of the bond was $46,000. The pastor of the tiny Florida congregation has pledged to return next week if today’s protest is thwarted by the trial.
A three-man, four-woman jury was quickly impaneled at District 19 court in Dearborn late Thursday afternoon after Rev. Jones, who said he would continue with his plan to protest outside the Islamic Center of America, refused to pay the bond request and asked for trial.
And... the response of the judicial branch of the city government. You really have to read it to believe that anyone would actually say such a thing out loud -- and to the press. But there it is, in black and blue:
Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran said the case was not simply about free speech rights but rather safety.
“We’re not here to suppress open speech or prevent someone for saying what they want to say, nor are we here because we don’t like the message that this defendant brings,” he told the jury. “We are here because the conduct of the respondents will likely respond in a breach of the peace. It will be a fracas, a riot. “
The police are not here to suppress your freedom of speech; we're only here to stop you from using it when your opponents have threatened violence in response!
Sometimes, you look at them and wonder. Other times -- you just look.
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