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The Anti-Muslim Movement's Manufactured "Sharia Threat" to Our Judicial System: Now With More Pages!

Heather L. Weaver,
Senior Staff Attorney,
ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief
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May 31, 2011

The anti-Muslim crowd is at it again. Last week, shortly after publication of an ACLU report debunking the myth that “Sharia law” is overtaking our courts, the Center for Security Policy (CSP) issued a 633-page report. The CSP “study” of the issue does not even try to dispute the fact that, as the ACLU report concluded, our courts treat claims brought by Muslims or involving Islamic law in the same way that they treat lawsuits brought by people of other faiths or touching on other religious beliefs (and, indeed, lawsuits involving no religion at all). Instead, the CSP report consists mostly of 50 judicial opinions, which the authors copied and pasted word-for-word simply because they mention Islam or involve claims brought by Muslims, contending that these cases serve as evidence of the so-called “Sharia threat.”

As we point out in our report, however, our courts regularly consider cases involving or touching on a wide range of religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Wicca, and many others—and yes, Islam, too. Taking a page from CSP, we could log onto a legal database and copy and paste the thousands of court opinions involving any number of non-Muslim faiths and then issue a “study” that is thousands of pages long. But if such a study strove for accuracy and intellectual honesty, it could no more rightfully conclude that any one of these religions is “overtaking” the judicial system than CSP’s report can claim the same regarding Islam.

The report’s authors likely hope that the sheer size of the document will be enough to scare some people into believing that the “Sharia threat” myth is real, but the report suffers from the same flaws as similar, though much shorter, pieces by Sharia ban proponents. Namely, it is premised on an inaccurate depiction of Sharia law and on a misunderstanding of how our judicial system works.

The mere fact that some court cases happen to involve Islam or Muslims is no more cause for concern than are court cases involving claims brought by Christians, Jews, or parties of other faiths, especially where the evidence shows that courts treat these claims alike no matter what religion they may involve. Muslims have the right to access and use our judicial system on the same terms as people of all other creeds. It is a fundamental right, protected by the U.S. Constitution. That fact can’t be changed or obscured, no matter how many word processing tricks and reams of paper groups like the Center for Security Policy sink into their anti-Muslim crusade.

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