These copycat bills on sharia law and terrorism have no effect. Why do states keep passing them?

b0c3b8d6-75d6-4328-8369-b1e46146032c-AP_17032732466766 A far-right think tank pushed model bills on sharia law and terrorism in dozens of states. Civil rights groups say the goal was to stoke fear.
Updated 2:20 p.m. CDT July 21, 2019

A lawmaker in Idaho introduces legislation to prevent traditional Islamic law from infiltrating U.S. courts.

In Florida, a legislator proposes striking at the foundations of terrorism with a bill bolstering victims’ ability to sue its supporters.

The lawmakers’ efforts are seemingly unrelated, their statehouses almost 2,000 miles apart.

But both get their ideas, and the actual text of their bills, from the same representative of the same right-wing think tank.

And when they introduce the bills, the same activist group dispatches supporters to press for passage.

Eric Redman of Idaho and Mike Hill of Florida are among dozens of legislators who have sponsored copycat bills written and pushed by a network of far-right think tanks and activists.

The legislation was developed by the Center for Security Policy, which was founded by Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, who pushes conspiracy theories alleging radical Muslims have infiltrated the government. Once the copycat bills are introduced, local chapters of the Washington, D.C.-based ACT for America, which describes itself as the “NRA of national security,” encourage their supporters to show up at legislative hearings and flood lawmakers’ inboxes and phone lines in support of the bills. ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has claimed that up to a quarter of all Muslims support the destruction of Western civilization.

Don’t blame Sharia for Islamic extremism – blame colonialism

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Warning that Islamic extremists want to impose fundamentalist religious rule in American communities, right-wing lawmakers in dozens of U.S. states have tried banning Sharia, an Arabic term often understood to mean Islamic law.

These political debates – which cite terrorism and political violence in the Middle East to argue that Islam is incompatible with modern society – reinforce stereotypes that the Muslim world is uncivilized.

They also reflect ignorance of Sharia, which is not a strict legal code. Sharia means “path” or “way”: It is a broad set of values and ethical principles drawn from the Quran – Islam’s holy book – and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. As such, different people and governments may interpret Sharia differently.

Still, this is not the first time that the world has tried to figure out where Sharia fits into the global order.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when Great Britain, France and other European powers relinquished their colonies in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, leaders of newly sovereign Muslim-majority countries faced a decision of enormous consequence: Should they build their governments on Islamic religious values or embrace the European laws inherited from colonial rule?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION

Who are Sri Lanka’s Muslims?

file-20190422-191664-dnk6u6Nearly 300 people have now been confirmed killed in the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. And several sources are now suggesting a domestic Muslim Islamist group may have been linked to the atrocity – although no group has yet claimed responsibility.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim community is spread across the country, but they make up 9.7% of the island’s population. Even though most Sri Lankan Muslims are Sunni, it is a diverse community, with some following the mystical form of Islam, Sufism. Linguistically, most have Tamil as their mother tongue, often leading them to be categorised as part of the island’s Tamil minority, alongside Hindus and Christians. There are, however, Muslims who speak the majority Sinhala language.


Read more: Sri Lanka attacks: government’s social media ban may hide the truth about what is happening


The origins of Sri Lanka’s Muslim community can be traced back to the historic trading routes between South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Traders from the Middle East (Arabs and Persians) developed commercial interests in southern India in the seventh century, which also spread to Sri Lanka. These Middle Eastern merchants married Tamil and Sinhalese women and settled in the east of the island around Batticaloa and Ampara.

The Portuguese, who started to control Sri Lanka in the 16th century, used the term “Moor” to describe the island’s Muslims (as they did other Muslim communities they encountered throughout the world). As a consequence, a local “Moorish” identity was established. In the early 20th century, some Muslims promoted this as a unique “Ceylon Moor” racial identity (the island was called Ceylon during the colonial period). They presumed an Arab heritage, which distinguished them from the local Tamil community, which has its origins in southern India and northern Sri Lanka.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION (UK) 

Their fellow congregants died in Pittsburgh. Now Jews are supporting Muslims in New Zealand.

P2OKY6SJP4I6TDH4FROQTGOCDYJews in Pittsburgh and Muslim worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, have forged a grim bond that transcends oceans and faiths: Mass killers have targeted their houses of prayer.

The Jewish community in Pittsburgh was roiled when 11 people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in October. People of all religions rallied around them for support.

Now, members of Tree of Life have raised thousands of dollars for a Muslim community that lost 50 people, killed by a gunman Friday at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch. Dozens more were injured.

“We feel compelled to come to the aid of those communities, just as our Jewish community was so compassionately supported only a few short months ago by people around the world of many faiths,” says a GoFundMe page set up by the congregation. “We recall with love the immediate, overwhelming support Tree of Life received from our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh.”

Donors provided thousands of dollars a day after the page was launched Sunday.

The effort mirrors an outpouring of support from the Muslim community in Pittsburgh after the massacre there. Nearly a quarter-million dollars was raised by Muslim groups to help injured worshipers and grieving families.

“To the families going through the most difficult moments in your lives: the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is with you,” the Tree of Life funding page says. “Our hearts are with you. We hold you in our prayers.”

“Tree of Life members, and our friends who continue to comfort and bolster us as we recover, must now come together to support the Muslims of Christchurch,” the page says.

There have been other similar efforts launched in Pittsburgh. The Jewish Federation set up a relief fund within days of the attack in New Zealand, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Within hours of the Christchurch mosque attacks, people of various faiths rallied around Muslims

190315124115-church-of-england-nz-super-tease(CNN)Churches are opening their doors after mosques were told to close for security issues in the wake of the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attacks. Mosques are receiving messages of solidarity and flowers. A fundraiser for the victims is nearing $400,000. And a UK-based national forum for Christian-Muslim engagement is calling on Christians to go along to Friday prayers at their local mosques — a call the archbishop of Canterbury endorsed.

These are only a few examples of how people and institutions are showing solidarity and offering help to Muslim communities all over the world after Friday’s shooting attacks on two Christchurch mosques that killed at least 49 people and seriously injured 20 others.
In some of the worst terror attacks and mass shootings of recent years, Muslim communities have stepped up to help in different ways. In the aftermath of October’s Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, for example, the Muslim-American nonprofit groups CelebrateMercy and MPower Change launched a crowdfunding appeal that raised thousands for the victims.

New Zealand mosque attacks and the scourge of white supremacy

546765b6b5814223a6ecb13543c999ec_18Today’s New Zealand mosque shootings, which killed at least 49 people and were allegedly carried out by white supremacists, are only the latest on a long list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism. Despite the growing and constant threat, Western governments have failed to adequately address the danger of white supremacy.

An abbreviated list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism includes Robert Gregory Bowers’ killing of 12 Jewish worshippers at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018; Alexandre Bissonnette’s massacre of six Muslims in the Quebec City mosque in 2017; Dylann Roof’s murdering of nine black Christian parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015; and Anders Behring Breivik’s slaughter of 77 people in Norway in 2011.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, numerous other white supremacist plots, including some that planned to kill as many as 30,000 people, have been foiled by law enforcement in the United States. Just last month, the American FBI arrested Christopher Paul Hasson, a white supremacist and lieutenant in the US coastguard, for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks against black and liberal politicians and media personalities.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Muslim enclave in New York state that was target of alleged foiled attack urges justice

190122-islamberg-new-york-cs-115p_e3cc3a86c2dd579016babc88f7de1e87.fit-2000wBy Associated Press

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Muslim group called Wednesday for full prosecutions against the four people accused of plotting an attack on the group’s rural enclave named Islamberg in upstate New York.

The arrests of three Rochester-area men and a 16-year-old who had access to homemade explosives and firearms sent shockwaves through the community, The Muslims of America said in a prepared statement. The small community has been dogged by allegations on right-wing websites that it is a terrorist training camp, and it was the target of a similar plot in 2015.

“It is beyond tragic that our nation continues to fester with Islamophobia, hate and religious intolerance,” the group said in a prepared statement. “To bring justice and properly deter similar terrorist plots against our community, we are calling for the individuals charged, as well as their accomplices, to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Image: Handout photo of Vetromile, Colaneri and Crysel, arrested after planning to bomb a Muslim community in upstate New York
Vincent Vetromile, 19, of Greece, New York, Brian Colaneri, 20, of Gates, New York and Andrew Crysel of East Rochester, New York, arrested after planning to bomb a Muslim community in upstate New York according to authorities.Greece New York Police Department / via Reuters

Authorities in suburban Rochester on Tuesday announced weapons possession and conspiracy charges against Brian Colaneri, 20; Andrew Crysel, 18; and Vincent Vetromile, 19. A 16-year-old student at Odyssey Academy in Greece, a Rochester suburb, was charged as an adolescent offender.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NBC NEWS