(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/27/18) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is calling on an Idaho Senate committee to drop consideration of proposed anti-Islam legislation.
For the third year in a row, State Rep. Eric Redman introduced a bill modeled on other Islamophobic legislation considered or passed in state legislatures nationwide. His House Bill 419 recently passed and is now under consideration in the Idaho Senate.
In a letter to State Sen. Jeff C. Siddoway, Chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw wrote in part:
“On behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I write to request that the Senate State Affairs Committee halt its consideration of Rep. Eric Redman’s (R-Athol) House Bill 419 (HB 419). If signed into law, HB 419 would be in violation of the United States Constitution and contrary to our nation’s values of not elevating or marginalizing one faith or community.
“On February 2, 2018, CAIR sent a letter to the House State Affairs Committee to highlight the concern of this bill being used to stigmatize and screen a particular religious practice. On February 20, 2018 the House State Affairs Committee voted 44-24 in favor of HB 419.
“This is the third year in a row Rep. Redman has introduced this so-called anti-foreign law bill, being publicly referred to as an “anti-Sharia bill,” which would prohibit state courts from enforcing a foreign law including, but not limited to, Sharia law, Catholic Cannon and Jewish Halacha, which reflect religious principles, if in conflict with a state or federal law.
“In discussing the former draft of the bill (HB 94 of 2017) with a reporter from The Spokesman, Rep. Redman acknowledged that while the bill did not specifically mention Sharia, he said: “One of the overreaches is certainly the Shariah law.” Rep. Redman also added in that interview: “We have freedom of religion here, but they don’t have the right to bring their Sharia law overreach on our constitutional laws.”
“In 2016, when Rep. Redman first introduced the bill, HB 568, he passed along an informational packet that included “pictures of a severed hand and a man about to be beheaded” with the pictures “pasted in between definitions of Sharia law” and smearing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, according to the Associated Press.
“Legislation designed and adopted to attack a specific religion is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause, which requires that government be secular and treat all religions equally. It is impossible to mask the anti-Muslim discriminatory intent behind HB 419.
“This legislation is very similar to the Oklahoma anti-Sharia constitutional amendment that was struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause in a federal court challenge brought by CAIR. See Awad v. Ziriax, 670 F.3d 1111 (10th Cir. 2012) (holding that the amendment’s ban on the application of foreign law, including Sharia law, failed the strict scrutiny analysis required by Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982)). That amendment provided that state “courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures . . . [s]pecifically . . . [including] international law or Sharia Law.” Id. at 1118.
“. . .[A]dopting HB 419 would send a message that Islam is an officially disfavored religion in the state of Idaho. It would also be in clear violation of the First Amendment’s command that government remain neutral in matters of religion.
“Should this legislation become law, CAIR expects that it would meet the same fate as any other adopted bill that is not in line with our Constitution in equally protecting the religious freedoms of all citizens.”
[NOTE: In October of last year, CAIR called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate a cross and pig parts left at an Idaho mosque as a hate crime. CAIR said it has witnessed an unprecedented increase in hate incidents targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump.]
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.
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.
The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report
CAIR launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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