(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/13/19) – A representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, provided testimony yesterday before the Delaware Senate Judicial Committee in opposition to anti-Islam legislation introduced by a state senator who has expressed Islamophobic views.
CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw addressed the committee about Senate Bill 99, which 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 which explicitly targets Sharia and was drafted by notorious Islamophobe David Yerushalmi.
“I was honored to address members of the Delaware Senate Judicial Committee and help educate them about the true Islamophobic nature of this bill and the stigmatizing effect it would have on the Delaware Muslim community,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw. “Initiatives like SB 99 are born out of ignorance and fear, and it is CAIR’s job to ensure that legislators do their jobs based on an unbiased understanding of Islam and how legislation will impact ordinary Muslims in their districts.”
He added that community members are encouraged to participate in CAIR’s click and send action alert urging members of the Delaware Senate to oppose this bill.
DELAWARE RESIDENTS TAKE ACTION: URGE YOUR LAWMAKERS TO OPPOSE ANTI-MUSLIM SB 99
McCaw said that during the hearing, Senator Dave Lawson, the bill’s sponsor, singled out the Muslim community for opposing the legislation and questioned their support for the U.S. Constitution
In 2017, Lawson made Islamophobic comments on the floor of the Senate and drew statewide rebuke from a coalition of interfaith and lay leaders, including Governor John Carney, and hundreds of Delawareans.
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."
On Friday, CAIR sent a letter to Delaware Senate Judicial Committee Chairman Darius J. Brown urging him to oppose this Islamophobic bill. It stated, in part:
“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.
- CAIR Urges South Carolina Lawmakers to Reject Anti-Islam Bill
- CAIR Urges Idaho Lawmakers to Drop Anti-Islam Bill
- CAIR Calls on Wisconsin State Assembly to Drop ‘Unconstitutional and Un-American’ Anti-Islam Bill
- CAIR-Texas to Offer Testimony on Anti-Islam Bill, Urges Community to Contact Lawmakers
- CAIR Challenges 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.