Lawsuit Filed Over Oklahoma's Sharia Ban

Days after Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to prohibit its courts from considering Sharia or international law, the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Oklahoma director filed a lawsuit asking for an injunction against the law.

Muneer Awad, director of CAIR's Oklahoma chapter, filed suit against the Oklahoma Board of Elections in federal court on Thursday. In the suit, he alleges the law both violates the First Amendment and harms his family's ability to carry out his will after he dies.

The proposition, which will go into effect once votes are certified on Nov. 9, amends the Oklahoma constitution and "forbids courts from considering or using international law [and] forbids courts from using or considering Sharia Law."

In his will, Awad said in the suit, which refers to Islamic teachings, he directs his estate to divide his possessions "in accordance with the guidance contained in the prophetic teachings" of Islam.

After the law is enacted, "no state court in Oklahoma will incorporate in the will the documents to which [Awad] referred. This is because those documents are 'Shariah law.' To incorporate into a will verses from a compendium of the teachings of Mohammed would surely require a judge to 'consider ... Shariah law' which will soon be forbidden," he said.

"The apprehension of this uncertainty is an injury itself," he said.

As for the First Amendment, Awad contends that he will "suffer official disapproval of his faith communicated to him by Oklahoma through the document that organizes the state's existence: the constitution. The Shariah Ban, because the text only mentions and restricts the religious traditions upon which [Awad] draws his faith, will imply to Oklahomans that there is something especially nefarious about the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed that justified its exclusion from the state courts."

A judge has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 8, the day before the amendment would go into effect.

The state legislator who proposed the ban, Rep. Rex Duncan (R), has called the ban a "preemptive strike" against Sharia law in Oklahoma. People like Duncan, who believe American Muslims are conducting a "stealth jihad" in order to impose Sharia on the United States, have been increasingly vocal this year.

The ban passed Tuesday night in a vote of 70% to 30%.


Lawsuit Filed Over Oklahoma's Sharia BanRepublished with permission from TalkingPointsMemo.com. Authored by Rachel Slajda. TPM provides breaking news, investigating reporting and smart analysis of politics.