[Update December 17: This bill is no longer active, so action is no longer needed. Thank you to all those who took action!]
Action: Urge Michigan Governor Not to Sign Anti-Islam Legislation
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/11/2012) — The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) today announced that state legislator Dave Agema’s anti-Islam bill, known officially as HB 4769, may pass this week during Michigan’s lame duck legislative session. (The bill is currently on the legislative calendar.)
CAIR-MI is calling on all people of conscience to urge Governor Snyder to veto the biased bill which is among those that seek to impose government-sanctioned discrimination on followers of a minority faith.
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(Michigan residents only. If you know anyone in Michigan please forward this alert to them.)
Michigan State Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville), whose bill is patterned on anti-Islam legislation widely circulated in the last two years, has a history of making controversial comments relating to Muslims.
In comments relating to legislation meant to apprehend undocumented workers, Agema stated, “We have the largest concentration of Muslims in the state in the Dearborn area. I know we have (sleeper) cells there. That is what I really want to get at.”
Agema is clearly targeting Islam for unequal treatment from other faiths. In explaining why he feels the bill is important, he told the Grand Rapids Press, “They (Muslims) want specific laws applied to their specific groups … They do not want to be under our law.”
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing this exact type of legislation noting that it is “duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law,” and saying, “initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at ‘Sharia law,’ are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence.”
In written testimony submitted to a U.S. Senate hearing on hate crimes and the threat of domestic extremism held earlier this year, CAIR established that legislation such as Agema’s clearly has the stigmatization of American Muslims as a core goal.
If signed into law, HB 4769 would prohibit a “court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority” from enforcing a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States.” Current law already does this.
As reported in CAIR’s Senate testimony, in 2011 and 2012, 78 bills or amendments aimed at interfering with Islamic religious practices were considered in 31 states and the U.S. Congress. Seventy-three of those bills were introduced by Republicans and 62 contained language copied from Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s “American Laws for American Courts” model legislation. So far, anti-Muslim laws have been adopted in Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Kansas.
Yerushalmi is head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which once offered a policy proposal that would make “adherence to Islam” punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims and urged Congress to declare war on the “Muslim Nation,” which SANE defined as “all Muslims.” The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) named Yerushalmi a member of the “anti-Muslim inner circle.”
Outside of his anti-Islam activism Yerushalmi is notable for saying, “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote.” He has also claimed that people of the Jewish faith “destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.”
Earlier this year, CAIR released a community toolkit designed to assist those seeking to preserve America’s ideal of religious pluralism in the face of the unconstitutional anti-Islam bills.
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.
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CONTACT: CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, email@example.com