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Fear of sharia in Tennessee
The United Kingdom has officially sanctioned the use of Islamic tribunals to settle some disputes, and in Germany, Islamic legal scholars such as Mathias Rohe have noted the compatibility of Islamic law to German law. The application of Islamic Law in Europe may remain controversial, but in the court of American public opinion, the idea of the Islamic legal system having any application in the US provokes massive social angst and sleazy political opportunism.
The southern state of Tennessee is the latest example of an irrational fear of Islam, which threatens American values and Muslim civil liberties. Bill Ketron Jr, a Republican State Senator in Tennessee who was first elected in 2002, introduced Senate bill 1028 to outlaw sharia. The fiery language of the bill is not unfamiliar in the American public square: In the lead-up to the 2010 elections we saw Newt Gingrich and other candidates for election, Islamophobic commentators and websites warn of the threat of sharia.
Senate bill 1028 goes further than other states have gone, attempting to outlaw sharia entirely. It provides the Tennessee state attorney general with the authority to designate "sharia organisations", defined as "two or more persons conspiring to support, or acting in concert in support of, sharia or in furtherance of the imposition of sharia within any state or territory of the United States." According to the bill, anyone who provides material support or resources to a designated sharia organisation could be charged with a felony and face up to 15 years of jail.
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