| AMP Report – January 18, 2012
Newt Gingrich again plays “Sharia” card
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says that he would only support a Muslim for the presidency if that person would “commit in public to give up Sharia.” Gingrich was addressing a town hall audience in South Carolina on Tuesday (Jan.17, 2012).
At the town hall meeting in West Columbia, S.C., a man asked: ”Would you endorse…a Muslim-American, [who] could possibly be running for president, given that we had a woman running for president in Hillary Clinton, and we had a Jewish-American, in Joe Lieberman, running for vice president?”
A truly modern person who happened to worship Allah would not be a threat, Gingrich replied but added: ”A person who belonged to any kind of belief in Sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us, would be a mortal threat.”
According to Huffington Post, in the past, Gingrich has repeatedly decried Sharia, a legal code derived from Islam, and called for a federal law to pre-emptively bar its use in any U.S. courts. He didn’t soften his position on Tuesday, saying his support would be contingent on a candidate’s willingness to denounce Sharia.
“I think it would depend entirely on whether they would commit in public to give up Sharia,” he said, referencing his support for the bill and drawing cheers from listeners at the event. “If they’re a modern person integrated into the modern world, and they’re prepared to recognize all religions, that’s one thing. On the other hand, if they’re the Saudis, who demand that we respect them while they refuse to allow either a Jew or a Christian to worship in Saudi Arabia, that’s something different.”
He pointed to an acquaintance as an example of a “truly modern” Muslim. “We have a friend in Arizona who serves in the U.S. Navy, who’s a medical doctor, who’s Muslim — but he’s a totally modern person, trying to find ways to bring Islam into modernity,” Gingrich said.
Federal court deals blow to “anti-Muslim” bigots
In a major blow to the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim bigots taking refuge behind the so-called anti-Sharia legislation, a federal appeals court on January 10, 2012 agreed with a lower court that blocked an Oklahoma law that would have barred state courts from considering or using Shariah law.
In the November 2010 election, Oklahomans voted overwhelmingly for referendum SQ 755 — described by its author, Rep. Rex Duncan, as “a preemptive strike against Sharia Law coming to Oklahoma.” The constitutional amendment stated that: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.”
Since the November 2010 Oklahoma ‘anti-Sharia’ law similar bills were introduced in around 20 states nationwide. The bills were patterned on a template produced by leading Islamophobe David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew, who founded an organization in 2006 with the acronym SANE (the Society of Americans for National Existence) with the aim of banishing Islam from the US. He proposed a law that would make adherence to Islam a felony punishable by 20 years in prison. In February 2011 Tennessee State Senator Bill Ketron and Representative Judd Matheny (both Republicans) had introduced similar bills to make it illegal to follow Islamic moral code which includes religious practices like feet-washing and prayers.
The new Oklahoma law — which was widely considered as unfairly targeting the Muslim community and blaming it for the non-existent threat of Sharia law in the United states — was challenged by Oklahoma resident Muneer Awad, a Muslim. In his law suit Awad charged that the law violated his First Amendment rights. In addition to stigmatizing him and other Muslims, Awad argued, the amendment would invalidate his last will and testament, which made reference to Islamic writings.
Federal judge in Oklahoma, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, agreed that the amendment was most likely unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction preventing its implementation until a final determination could be made.The judge argued that the Sharia ban was unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and unfairly singled out Muslims.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) a leading national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization has called on Gingrich and other Republican representatives to reaffirm their support of an American republic that treats citizens of all faiths as equals.
“Newt Gingrich’s vision of America segregates our citizens by faith. His outdated political ideas look backward to a time when Catholics and Jews were vilified and their faiths called a threat,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. “The time for bias in American politics has passed and Newt Gingrich looks like a relic of an ugly era.”
Saylor added that Sharia teaches marital fidelity, generous charity and a thirst for knowledge. It includes religious guidelines for praying, fasting, giving charity, helping the needy, feeding the hungry, and caring for the environment. “The last time I checked, that was called freedom of religion and it is all protected by the Constitution,” said Saylor.
According to Saylor, Sharia literally means “path,” and it is a set of interpretations that are dynamic and intended to accommodate the time, place and laws — like the U.S. Constitution — of a particular community. Sharia is interpreted differently based on its surroundings. Sharia mandates Muslims to respect the law of the land in which they live. Many familiar with Islam note that Sharia is similar to Catholic Canon law and Jewish Halacha law.
It may be recalled that in its first annual report on Islamophobia, CAIR listed Gingrich as one of the nation’s worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry.
CAIR’s report stated in part: “A consumer of the Islamophobic narrative produced by others on this list, Gingrich’s credibility and visibility as a former House speaker makes his decision to adopt an anti-Muslim line in his pre-2010 election rhetoric dangerous.”