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Friday, May 17, 2013

Have a happy, Sharia-free weekend!

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Amid all the noise and ruckus of the General Assembly's current, historic session, many bills tainted by far-right myths and misperceptions were introduced. A lot of them passed. For instance, anything that would make life harder for poor people or women in crisis scooted through the GA like shit through a goose. One particularly weird rightwing conspiracy theory is still up for validation in Raleigh: House Bill 695 would ban the use of Sharia law in North Carolina, specifically prohibiting judges, mediators and agencies from applying Sharia to domestic cases, e.g., divorce, custody, etc. The bill passed the House on Thursday and is being taken up by the Senate.

Rep. John Blust of Greensboro is scared shitless of Muslims taking over N.C. courts.
  • Rep. John Blust of Greensboro is scared shitless of Muslims taking over N.C. courts.

Supporters of the anti-Sharia bill, a group largely consisting of evangelical Christians, Glenn Beck fans and other members of the right's Kneejerk Paranoia Club, are convinced that the use of Sharia law in U.S. courts is a very real and growing thing. That view has become one of contemporary conservatism's most widespread conspiratorial beliefs, views that are routinely enflamed and fanned by a cottage industry within the right. See this valuable report on the Sharia conspiracy industry from Religion Dispatches.

Anti-Sharia crusaders like Rep. John Blust, R-Greensboro, claim that Sharia law is "creeping into" the United States. Blust told a crowd, in an oddly worded declaration, "In the United States there is the Sharia law. It is stated within those who are pushing it, that is their goal: to have this type of law rule the world." I want to take a quick word-geek break here to admire the phrase "it is stated within those who are pushing it, that is their goal." Wow. I stand in awe.

Anyhow, to cut to the chase, the far-right says Sharia is a plot to turn America into a Muslim country, while everyone else who knows anything whatsoever about the topic says Sharia is akin in many ways to Kosher - a religion-specific set of rules of behavior that has nothing to do with anyone who isn't part of one of those religions. In the U.S., people who enter into contracts are legally entitled to frame the contract's requirements within the context of Kosher law or, yes, Sharia law, or Roman Catholic canon law, for that matter, as long as nothing in the contract is illegal under U.S. law or laws of the state in which the contract is entered into.

Here's an example: In 2006, the N.C.-based mercenary group Blackwater tried to use Sharia to get out of its responsibility for a bungled flight that killed three soldiers and the flight crew. Blackwater said that the contract for the flight was made in Iraq and that, under Sharia, employers aren't liable for any harm caused by their employees. Federal judges essentially ruled that Blackwater was out of its mind if it thought Sharia law would supersede U.S. law in an American court.

If the anti-Sharia law passes the N.C. Senate, it will be a key test of just how far Gov. McCrory is willing to go to appease the far-right contingent that is currently driving his party. Even if the bill doesn't make it through the Senate, however, the fact that a state legislature would even consider such ignorant drivel just adds to the humiliation of seeing the state turned into a national laughing stock by the likes of Rep. Blust and his retro pals. Haven't North Carolinians had to put up with enough wacked-out notions from Raleigh this year?

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