Wed, Dec 01, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Judge blocks anti-’Shariah’ measure in Oklahoma state

AFP, WASHINGTON

A federal judge on Monday ordered the state of Oklahoma not to put into effect a measure that would prohibit state judges from considering Islamic law in deciding cases.

In issuing the temporary injunction, Judge Vicky Miles-Lagrange found in favor of a Muslim resident of the state who argued that the ban was a violation of his rights to freedom of religion under the US Constitution.

The ban was passed on Nov. 2 in a state referendum with 75 percent voting in favor of an amendment to the state constitution that would bar judges from considering international law, and specifically Shariah, in reaching judgements.

Muneer Awad filed suit, arguing that the first amendment bars the government from making laws “respecting the establishment of religion.”

By singling out Islam and Shariah, the amendment had transformed the state’s constitution “into an enduring condemnation of plaintiff’s faith,” he said.

Miles-Lagrange had extended a stay of the amendment on Nov. 22, and on Monday handed down a 15-page decision imposing the injunction until the court rules on the merits of Awad’s claim.

“The court grants plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction and enjoins defendants from certifying the election results for state question 755 until the court rules on the merits of plaintiff’s claim,” she wrote.

“The court finds that plaintiff has shown that he will suffer injury in fact specifically, an invasion of his first amendment rights will be violated by Oklahoma’s official condemnation of his religion/faith,” she said.

The decision noted Awad’s argument that Oklahoma courts would not be able to probate his will under the amendment because it would be required to consider Shariah law.

“Furthermore, plaintiff has presented testimony that ‘Sharia law’ is not actually ‘law’ but is religious traditions that provide guidance to plaintiff and other Muslims regarding the exercise of their faith,” it said.

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