Breitbart Texas has confirmed the existence of an Islamic tribunal in northern Texas, which adheres to Sharia law. It’s quite clear that we should all be terrified, because this is obviously part of the Islamic takeover of America. Soon, we’ll all be under Sharia law, and 8-year old girls will be sold as slave-wives, and women will have to wear burkas and be banned from driving, and we’ll have an actual Muslim in the White House (because we don’t already). Pack your bags and run, while you still can.
Breitbart‘s report seems fairly straightforward, but all the above subtext is in it. Bob Price, the writer who first reported on this for Breitbart Texas, pushed the Islamic tribunal’s lawyer about what happens when there’s a conflict between Texas law and Sharia law. The lawyer, Dr. Taher El-badawi, said that they follow Texas law when it comes to matters of child support, custody and visitation. Also, the tribunal’s decisions are non-binding; if the parties involved decide not to follow them, then they’re free not to.
Breitbart also pointed out a lot of what’s on the Islamic tribunal’s website regarding Sharia law, and U.S. law. They heavily outline what the website says about Sharia law, as though they’re trying to claim that this is proof Islam is actually trying to put us all under the iron fist of Sharia law.
This Islamic tribunal is a religious conflict-resolution system. The Washington Post’s Eugene Volokh discussed this, and said that seeking dispute resolution from religious authorities of this nature is quite common in the U.S. Some examples include Catholics going to Catholic authorities to resolve marital questions and disputes, and Orthodox Jews going to Jewish courts to resolve both marital and commercial disputes.
So why the focus on the Islamic tribunal, then? Because it’s Breitbart and the religious right, that’s why. Bretibart highlights the violent measures under which Sharia law might be carried out; however, Volokh points out that the possibility of violence does not allow the government to interfere in non-violent, religious situations where civil law isn’t broken.
CBS-DFW spoke to one of the Imams involved in the Islamic tribunal, and he said that they don’t have the authority to force anybody to do, or accept, anything. El-badawi also said that they don’t—indeed, that they can’t—deal with anything relating to civil law (read: Texas and U.S. law).
But other religious right and right-wing websites are reporting this as though there’s a great evil here. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) story on this carries the headline, “Sharia Tribunal in Texas an Islamic Trojan Horse?” The Right Scoop picked up CBN’s story, and pointed out how CBN spoke to El-badawi and Frank Gaffney, of the right-wing Center for Security Policy. They ignored how CBN also spoke to Texas attorney John Degroote, who sees the Islamic tribunal as parallel to other types of out-of-court mediation that happens here.
Gaffney, according to CBN, believes that any Sharia here at all will undermine protections for Muslims, particularly women and children. Right Wing Watch, however, has several articles pointing to Gaffney’s extremely Islamophobic views. He’s hardly an objective source, so it’s hard to take him seriously.
The truth is that the existence of religious courts in the U.S. is nothing new, and they are, in fact, part of the religious freedom that the religious right here treasures so much (for Christians). But then again, why should Muslims and anybody else be allowed to enjoy freedom that our founding fathers clearly only intended for Christians? Expect to see more paranoia about this Islamic tribunal, from the religious right, in the coming weeks.
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