Tennessee: faith and civil liberties groups call for withdrawal of anti-sharia bill

Local Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders and representatives from the national Council on American-Islamic Relations gathered near the Tennessee Capitol this afternoon to ask an anti-Shariah bill be withdrawn. They fear that the law would make it illegal to be Muslim in Tennessee.

“All of a sudden, I pray using the Koran or the Sunnas of the Prophet, and it’s a crime,” said Imam Yusuf Abdullah of Masjid Al-Islam in Nashville. “What kind of bill is that?”

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and in the House by Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma. Supporters say it only applies to terrorists, and one section says, “This part neither targets, nor incidentally prohibits or inhibits, the peaceful practice of any religion, and in particular, the practice of Islam by its adherents.”

However, the bill also claims that Shariah law demands the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution: “The knowing adherence to sharia and to foreign sharia authorities is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the United States government….”

It gives the state attorney general the right to say who is practicing any kind of Shariah law – which includes prayers, marriage and dietary restrictions – and who is in support of it. Those convicted would be guilty of a Class B felony punishable by a fine, not less than 15 years in prison or both.

The Tennessean, 1 March 2011