(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/7/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on Delaware state residents who value religious liberty to contact their elected representatives in the Delaware General Assembly to urge them to oppose anti-Islam legislation introduced by an Islamophobic state senator.
DELAWARE RESIDENTS TAKE ACTION: URGE YOUR LAWMAKERS TO OPPOSE ANTI-MUSLIM SB 99
The bill is scheduled for consideration before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, June 12.
Introduced last month by Senator Dave Lawson, Senate Bill 99 declares it the public policy of Delaware to protect citizens from the application of “foreign law.” While it does not explicitly mention Sharia (Islamic principles), the bill is directly modeled after legislation authored by American Laws for American Courts (ALAC), which explicitly targets Sharia.
In 2017, the bill’s sponsor drew statewide rebuke from a coalition of interfaith and lay leaders, including Governor John Carney, and hundreds of Delawareans for remarks he made about Islam on the floor of the Senate.
After two Muslims gave the Senate invocation, Senator Lawson stated: “We just heard from the Quran, which calls for our very demise. I fought for this country, not to be damned by someone that comes in here and prays to their God for our demise. I think that's despicable."
SEE: Delaware senator's anti-Muslim comments draw rebuke
CAIR Asks GOP to Repudiate Islamophobic Remarks of Delaware Lawmaker Who Walked Out Before Muslim Prayer
On Friday, CAIR Director of Government Affairs Robert McCaw sent a letter to the Delaware Senate Judicial Committee Chairman Darius J. Brown urging him to oppose this Islamophobic bill. In part, the letter states:
“This legislation has its roots in Islamophobia, is sponsored by someone with a history of anti-Muslim bias and will only marginalize your state’s Muslim population. For these reasons, I respectfully request that you and the Senate Judicial Committee oppose the SB 99 and not waste any more of the legislature’s time with this redundant and bigoted measure. The Assembly’s time would be better spent focusing its attention on identifying solutions and creating programs that enhance the state’s overall wellbeing.”
Background on Anti-Foreign Law Bills:
Attempts to outlaw the application of Sharia or other bodies of law in judicial proceedings grew out of a concerted push by known Islamophobe David Yerushalmi. Anti-foreign law bills did not exist prior to Yerushalmi’s efforts to raise alarm bells about Sharia and draw their language, often verbatim, from a piece of model legislation authored by Yerushalmi in 2010.
The language these bills use is often purposefully broad to block legal challenges to their discriminatory natures. In 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld a lower court's decision to block implementation of an Oklahoma state constitutional amendment that would have prohibited courts from applying or considering "Sharia law" in a federal court challenge brought by CAIR. The following year, Oklahoma legislators circumvented constitutionality concerns by hiding the anti-Sharia bill’s bias behind a broader, facially neutral “foreign law” ban and passed anti-Muslim law HB 1060.
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation like Senate Bill 29, noting that it is "duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law," 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."
Since 2010, elected state representatives have introduced at least 221 anti-Muslim “foreign law” bills in 44 state legislatures. As of 2018, 15 of these bills are law in 13 states, covering nearly a quarter of the nation.
The Washington-based civil rights group has challenged similar unconstitutional and discriminatory “anti-Sharia,” “anti-foreign law” and “anti-Islamic Indoctrination” bills that have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide. SEE:
- CAIR Urges South Carolina Lawmakers to Reject Anti-Islam Bill
- CAIRUrges Idaho Lawmakers to Drop Anti-Islam Bill
- CAIR Calls on Wisconsin State Assembly to Drop ‘Unconstitutional and Un-American’ Anti-Islam Bill
- CAIR-Texasto Offer Testimony on Anti-Islam Bill, Urges Community to Contact Lawmakers
- CAIRChallenges Unconstitutional Anti-Islam Bills in Arkansas, Montana, Idaho, Oregon
To counter this coordinated anti-Islam campaign, CAIR published a toolkit offering a pair of anti-Islamophobia resolutions that recognize the contributions of American Muslims and reaffirm the right of citizens to practice their faith within the law and free of government interference.
CAIR’s toolkit has sections such as “Understanding the Legislative Process,” “Legislative Advocacy: Limits for Non-Profit Organizations,” “Checklist: Meeting with an Elected Official,” and “Ensuring an Effective Meeting with an Elected Official," as well as fact sheets that may be given to lawmakers and their staff in support of the two resolutions.
CAIR’s Toolkit: Recognizing American Muslim contributions in Our States
CAIR is urging Islamic communities nationwide to ask state lawmakers to stand with their Muslim constituents in countering the injustice of growing Islamophobia nationwide that is being spread by anti-Muslim activists and hate groups.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com