Opponents in Philadelphia say bill on Sharia law unfair to Muslims
A bill in Harrisburg that opponents say is targeted against Muslims has followers of that faith upset.
House Bill 2029 would ban Pennsylvania courts from considering any foreign legal code or system that isn't identical with the Constitution. Muslim activists say that it is specifically targeted against the practice of Sharia Law—a religious code for Muslims that has the power of law in some countries. Council on American-Islamic Relations Attorney Amara Chaudhry says this would block freedom of religious expression.
"This is not a new faith. We are not a foreign faith. And yes this dangerous, clearly stated discriminatory purpose on a publicly circulated document. You just don't get any more troubling than that," said Chaudhry.
Professor Khalid Blankinship of Temple University compares following Sharia to the Catholic teaching that divorce is not allowed.
"That would be like going into the Catholic Church and telling them that you can't marry people the way you want or saying you have to allow divorce of people even if the Pope ruled otherwise," said Blankinship.
State Representative Rosemarie Swanger of Lebanon County, who authored the bill, says it is designed to preserve rights of liberty that do not exist in some foreign legal systems. She has said recognizing foreign laws could allow women to be treated as second-class citizens. In a letter she sent to colleagues, Swanger called Sharia law "inherently hostile to our constitutional liberties."