Institutions Politics

Oklahoma anti-Shariah amendment struck down

Welcome to Oklahoma Sign

(RNS) A federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment that would have prohibited judges in the state from considering Shariah law.

Welcome to Oklahoma Sign

Photo courtesy Spirit of America via Shutterstock

Welcome to Oklahoma Sign

The amendment was approved by about 70 percent of Oklahoma voters on November 2, 2010, but the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations sued to block the amendment, arguing it violated separation of church and state and discriminated against Muslims.

A U.S. District Court judge agreed and issued a temporary injunction against the amendment. That decision was upheld in 2011 by a federal appeals court that returned the case to the judge, who made the final ruling Thursday (Aug. 15).

“It is our hope that, in finding this anti-Islam law unconstitutional, lawmakers in other states will think twice before proposing anti-Muslim laws of their own,” said Gadeir Abbas, a CAIR staff attorney and counsel for the plaintiffs.

A call to the Oklahoma governor’s office was not immediately returned.

The amendment struck down Thursday specifically mentioned Shariah, and is different from anti-Shariah laws adopted over the last few years by state legislators in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. North Carolina legislators also passed an anti-foreign-law bill this spring, which is now on the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory, who must decide by August 25 whether to sign or veto it.

While these laws do not mention Shariah, but “foreign law,” their backers have stated Shariah was their target. Those laws have not been challenged in court, although Muslim civil rights activists say they may still try.

About the author

Omar Sacirbey

Omar Sacirbey is a Boston-based correspondent for Religion News Service and other publications.


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  • What is the worry about sharia law about, anyway? Why would anyone think that the religious code of islam might possibly become statutory law in the US? Is the concern just one of those conspiracy theories such as the Amero or black helicopters?

  • Maybe not black helicopters. But my wife and I were watching a TV show repeat from a few years ago. One of the characters was ridiculed as a tin foil hat paranoid.
    Fast forward to today and guess what–the tin foil hat paranoid was far more right than wrong about the things the show made fun of him for fearing. The things Mr. Tin foil hat was ranting about, from drones, to Gov’t storing of data about us, to TV cameras virtually everywhere watching us for the Gov’t and big corporations, to snooping through all our computers are now regular stories on cable news and the network evening news.
    Can sharia law be far behind????

  • So wait, the Oklahoma provision simply affirms something the U.S. Constitution protects against: religious law being used in civil legal proceedings. And yet this is unconstitutional?!

  • Hindus and Buddhists have been here longer, and they make no such demands.
    Additionally, they don’t try to inflict their views on everyone else.