Press Releases

CAIR Challenges Unconstitutional Anti-Islam Bills in Arkansas, Montana, Idaho, Oregon

CAIR logo(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/10/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today sent letters to elected leaders in the Arkansas, Montana and Idaho state legislatures calling on those assemblies to oppose unconstitutional, anti-Muslim legislation prohibiting state courts from considering so-called “foreign laws.” The bills’ sponsors and supporters make it clear these bill are part of a nationwide campaign designed to attack the religious principles of Islam, or “sharia.”

CAIR sent a similar letter last week to Oregon’s state senate leadership.

[MEDIA NOTE: Contact CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,, to obtain copies of the CAIR letters.]

“Legislation clearly designed to stigmatize a particular faith is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits government interference in religious affairs,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Robert McCaw. “The promotion and adoption of these unconstitutional bills sends a message that Islam is an officially-disfavored religion.” 

SEE: Arkansas Bill Targets More Than Just Sharia Law

Anti-Sharia Law Measure Resurfaces at Idaho Legislature

Repeat Bill Would Prohibit Sharia Law in Oregon Courts

Republican Senators Advance Ban on Foreign Laws in Montana

Oregon Senate Bill 479 states in its entirety that “ court of this state may not consider Sharia law in making judicial decisions.”

In discussing Idaho’s HB 94 with a reporter from The Spokesman, Rep. Redman acknowledged that while the bill does not specifically mention Sharia, he said: “One of the overreaches is certainly the Shariah law.” Redman also added: “We have freedom of religion here, but they don’t have the right to bring their Sharia law overreach on our constitutional laws.” CAIR noted that Rep. Redman last year introduced a similar bill in the state assembly but it failed to pass.

SEE: Rep. Redman Brings Back His Anti-Sharia Law Bill

In discussing the need for such legislation in December, Arkansas Rep. Brandt Smith told a reporter with the Arkansas Times an anecdote involving a custody dispute in which a woman’s “husband, who was from the Middle East. . .based his decision-making on Sharia law and fled the country.” 

SEE: Bill Filed to Address Non-Existent Problem of Sharia Law Creeping Into U.S.

All these bills are similar to the 2010 Oklahoma anti-sharia constitutional amendment that was struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause in a federal court challenge brought by CAIR.

Deciding in favor of CAIR’s lawsuit challenging the amendment, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that ‘the references to Sharia Law violated the Establishment Clause.’

SEE: CAIR Welcomes Court Ruling Striking Down Oklahoma Anti-Islam Amendment

In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing legislation like HB 522, noting that it is “duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law,” and 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.”

David Yerushalmi is the anti-Islam extremist who authored the template for the anti-sharia and anti-foreign law bills.

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.”


SEE: CAIR Islamophobia Monitor Profile: David Yerushalmi

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:      

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.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

– END –

CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

Share on facebook
Share on twitter