In U.S., Kansas lawmakers pass an effective ban on Islamic law
Kansas lawmakers have passed legislation intended to prevent the state courts or agencies from using Islamic or other non-U.S. laws in making decisions, a measure critics have blasted as an embarrassment to the state.
The legislation, which passed 33-3 in the state Senate on Friday and 120-0 previously in the House, is widely known in Kansas as the “Sharia bill,” because the perceived goal of supporters is to keep Islamic code from being recognized in Kansas.
The bill was sent to Republican Governor Sam Brownback, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
In interviews on Saturday, a supporter of the bill said it reassured foreigners in Kansas that state laws and the U.S. Constitution will protect them. But an opponent said the bill’s real purpose is to hold Islam out for ridicule.
Kansas Representative Peggy Mast, a lead sponsor of the bill for the past two years, said the goal was to make sure there was no confusion that American laws prevailed on American soil.
Mast said research showed more than 50 cases around the United States where courts or government agencies took laws from Sharia or other legal systems into account in decision-making.
Commonly, they involved divorce, child custody, property division or other cases where the woman was treated unfairly, Mast said.
“I want people of other cultures, when they come to the United States, to know the freedoms they have in regard to women’s and children’s rights,” said Mast, a Republican. “An important part of this bill would be to educate them.”
State Senator Tim Owens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there was no need for legislation reaffirming American laws that already exist. All the proposed legislation does, he said, was target one particular group – Muslims – for discrimination.