(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/8/16) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Idaho House of Representatives to drop an unconstitutional, anti-Islam bill (House Bill 568) currently moving through that body because it violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
CAIR said the bill was recently introduced and approved by the House Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 4-3 and has been referred to the State Affairs Committee.
Of the bill, one Idaho newspaper noted: â€œWe knew it was only a matter of time before the radical right surfaced in the Statehouse this year pushing legislation to target Muslims. It happened Wednesday, through a proposal to ban any enforcement of foreign law by an Idaho court.â€
In a letter sent today to Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives Scott Bedke, CAIR Senior Staff Attorney William Burgess wrote in part:
â€œIn analyzing legislation under the Establishment Clause, courts consider the â€˜contemporaneous legislative historyâ€™ and â€˜the specific sequence of events leading to passage of the statuteâ€™ to determine whether it was passed with an â€˜improper purpose.â€™ Laws which do not have a genuine and primary secular purpose are unconstitutional. It is not a valid secular purpose to pass a law intended to target a particular religion for disfavor.Â
â€œIn this case, Mr. Redman, as the sponsor of the bill, admitted that, while the â€˜bill isnâ€™t just about sharia law. . .sharia law is a major concern.â€™ He included â€˜pictures of a severed hand and a man about to be beheaded. . .in the information packet distributed to legislative leaders considering the proposal,â€™ with the pictures â€˜pasted in between definitions of Shariah lawâ€™ and statements disparaging the Prophet Muhammad. . .Â
â€œThe bill â€˜follows model legislation developed by the American Public Policy Alliance.â€ APPA is affiliated with David Yerushalmi, an infamous anti-Islam activist. . .Yerushalmiâ€™s writings contain a manifest bias against Islam, including statements such as â€˜Our greatest enemy today is Islam,â€™ â€˜Islam seeks our destruction,â€™ and the â€˜Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization.â€™
â€œIt is clear from its legislative history that H.B. 568 is motivated by anti-Islam animus. Its passage would send a message that Islam is an officially disfavored religion in Idaho. Legislation passed with the intent to attack a particular religion is a violation of the Establishment Clause, which requires that government remain neutral in matters of religion. This unconstitutional bill should be withdrawn.â€Â
House Bill 568 is one of many so-called â€œforeign lawâ€ bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide in a coordinated campaign to demonize Islam and to marginalize American Muslims. That Islamophobic campaign appears to be stalling in most states.
In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation like House Bill 568, 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.”
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 Manager Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,Â firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Nabeelah Naeem, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org