Monday, the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs will hear testimony as lawmakers decide whether to embed into state law stereotypes and fear about the practice of Islam.
Like proponents of similar measures in other states, the sponsors of SB 531, claim that Islamic law, or shariah, is a threat to the legal system and the nation, in general. This idea is being driven by an organized movement of anti-Muslim activists who don’t seemed to be deterred by the lack of evidence that this Muslim takeover is actually happening.
“In general, US courts will recognize foreign judgments or laws as long as they do not violate considerations of public policy,” writes Amos Toh of the Brennan Center for Justice. “This practice has endured for decades without much fanfare.”
SB 531, like most anti-shariah bills, is modeled on legislation originally drafted by a lawyer named David Yerushalmi. This is the same guy who is on-call to defend Pamela Geller and her co-conspirator Robert Spencer when they go around the country installing bigoted bus ads in the name of free speech. In 2011, Yerushalmi told the New York Times that passing the bills isn’t even the point. He just wants to sow the seeds of fear about Islam and Muslims.
“If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” he said. “The purpose was heuristic — to get people asking this questions, ‘What is Shariah?’ ”
This approach has succeeded in at least nine states that have passed these bills. Lawmakers in at least 28 other states have tried. At a hearing last month in Irving, Texas, one community member’s public statement played right into Yerushalmi’s master plan.
“Sharia law is Islam. And Islam’s goal is to immigrate, assimilate and annihilate,” the speaker said.
This statement reflects exactly how much the organized Islamophobia movement in the United States is working to prey on the anxieties of many Americans. And this year in Texas, this movement has been working overtime.
Kalia Abiade is the advocacy director at the Center for New Community.