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Southern Poverty Law Center on Shariah in American Courts: Move On, Nothing To See Here
by Stephen M. Gelé
A recent study entitled Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases, released by The Center for Security Policy, identifies dozens of American court cases involving sharia law. Many of these cases involve blatant violations of Constitutional rights, usually to the detriment of women and children, including the enforcement of foreign custody orders to wrest children from their mothers. Yet, despite the numerous cases cited in the study, several commentators have chosen to selectively criticize the study, rather than recognize the challenges presented to the American justice system by litigants advocating for the application of sharia as detailed in the study.
Ed Brayton, a contributor at scienceblog.com, recently accused the Center's study of being "fraudulent" because in some of the fifty cases cited in the study the courts did not ultimately apply or enforce sharia law. After describing a handful of such cases he argued that the study proved that sharia was not a threat.
He reaches this conclusion by completely ignoring the many cited cases wherein sharia was applied, and completely discounting important trial court decisions applying sharia that were later reversed. The first decision he describes is the Michigan case Tariconda v. Pinjari in which the trial court enforced, through the judicial doctrine of comity, a talaq divorce decree from India. Under sharia a talaq divorce may be committed by the husband by just pronouncing three times that he divorces the wife. Although the appellate court later reversed the trial court, holding that the Indian divorce decree should not be granted comity because the instant divorce did not involve "the basic rudiments of due process" and sharia principles of division of property discriminated against wives, the trial judge nonetheless had held the talaq divorce enforceable in Michigan causing the wife to incur the expense and uncertainty of appeal.
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