(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/24/2012) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked the Republican Party to reject a newly-adopted platform plank that includes a section supporting a ban on foreign law, which its sponsor admits targets the religious principles of American Muslims.
CAIR noted that the plank appears to be modeled on dozens of bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide based on draft legislation promoted by David Yerushalmi, an infamous Islamophobe with a history of bigoted statements targeting women, African Americans and people of the Jewish faith.
[NOTE: CAIR today released an “Islamophobe profile” of Yerushalmi, the first in a series of such reports. See below for details.]
On Tuesday, the anti-Islam plank was adopted without argument or debate during a meeting of the Republican Party's platform committee. The policy statement was introduced by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an anti-immigration activist who also wrote Arizona's controversial SB 1070 “papers please” law.
Kobach told the platform committee:
“I'm not aware of any court that's actually accepted the argument, but in cases involving either spousal abuse or assault or other crimes against persons, sometimes defenses are raised that are based in Sharia Law. We actually put a provision to this effect in Kansas statute this year and I think it's important to say that foreign sources of law should not be used as part of common law decisions or statutory interpretation by judges in the lower state courts as well.”
The Kansas law Kobach spoke of at the platform committee meeting, which CAIR challenged as unconstitutional and discriminatory, was derived from Yerushalmi's template and legislator's in that state acknowledged that the bill targeted Muslims.
Of that bill, Sen. Chris Steineger, a Kansas City Republican, said: “[T]his was not presented as protecting the Kansas Constitution. The proponents of this measure, clearly by the literature they gave me and by the video link they directed me to, they presented this as protecting us against Sharia law. Despite the fact that this doesn't mention Sharia, that's how this whole issue was presented.”
“This plank is part of a nationwide trend to marginalize Muslims and keep them from having the same rights and access to the courts as Americans of other faiths,” said CAIR Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw. “The plank is irrelevant, since the Constitution's Supremacy Clause ensures that no foreign law can replace it, and only serves as a smoke-screen for anti-Muslim bigotry.”
“We wish Kobach and the Republican Party had as much confidence in the Constitution as we do,” said McCaw.
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 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 Klobach's own 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.”
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 Government Affairs Coordinator Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org