by Avi Davis
There is good news coming out of the State of Montana. Montana State Senator Janna Taylor has introduced a bill, “Primacy of Montana Law,” that would nullify any “court, arbitration or administrative agency ruling” that relies on any foreign law. This is Montana’s version of an anti-Sharia law bill, modeled off similar legislation that has passed in other states.
Montana, for those who don’t know, is very much a red state and dyed in the wool conservative. Its population, the fourth smallest in the continental United States, is proudly Republican and the animus to western elites – and to Democrats in particular – is intense. There is a strong feeling among the populace in the state capital of Helena – a place with which I am particularly familiar, for constitutional rights and a deep sensitivity that develops when they are felt to be endangered.
Senator Taylor explained that her bill would particularly protect the rights of women and children who do not necessarily receive the same protections under other legal systems that they do in the United States. She explained her rationale for the bill by describing a case in which a Muslim man living in Michigan with his wife obtained a divorce in India, unbeknownst to his wife, and under Sharia law she was only granted property that she had brought into the marriage. A Michigan court upheld the Sharia court’s decision until the case was successfully appealed by his wife.
“She had no prior notice, no pronouncement, no right to be represented, no right to a lawyer and no right to be present for a hearing,” Taylor said.
There are at least 50 cases in 23 states in which Sharia law was resorted to in order to decide a case. Wisely Taylor has also pointed out that the Montana Primacy Law will, in addition, make it increasingly difficult for supranational bodies such as the United Nations, to impose their laws, regulations and dictates on the State.
Despite the insistence by Taylor and many of the speakers that the bill is not aimed at any specific group, several of the comments at the initial judiciary hearing characterized Islam in strong terms.
“My concern is based on an awareness of the price we’ve paid to secure the freedoms that we have, that are enshrined in our Constitution and in our Bill of Rights,” Tom Osborn of Kalispell said. “It’s just unconscionable that we would allow any law, and in particular Sharia law, to violate the integrity of our rights and our country.” Osborn referred to a case in which a man in New Jersey was acquitted after beating and raping his wife, with the court deferring to its permissibility under Sharia law. Osborn said ultimately an appellate court overturned the case.
“Emboldened by American weakness in the international arena … they are using the rights guaranteed under our Constitution to push their form of law as a religious right,” Davida Constant said. “This seventh-century, Middle Eastern, barbaric Islamic tribal practice … is now a threat to the civilized world.”
Montana joins three other states – Tennessee, Louisiana and Kansas who have now passed similar laws, with several other states in the South and Midwest poised to do the same.
It is ironic to note that almost nowhere else in the Western world, with the exception of perhaps Australia, is the same effort being made to protect sovereign legal systems from corruption by foreign laws. Who can forget the U.K’s Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the highest prelate in the British Commonwealth when he averred in February, 2008 that “as a matter of fact certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law.” When the question was put to him in a BBC interview which followed the address that: “the application of sharia in certain circumstances – if we want to achieve this cohesion and take seriously peoples’ religion – seems unavoidable?’, ” he indicated his assent. The full quote from his lecture was as follows:
“… certain provision of Sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law; so it’s not as if we’re bringing in an alien and rival system; we already have in this country a number of situations in which the internal law of religious communities is recognised by the law of the land as justified conscientious objections in certain circumstances in providing certain kinds of social relations.”
The Archbishop and the Church of England furiously attempted to back pedal on the comments but the cat was already out of the bag. In stating categorically that ” its not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system,” he was already conceding that Sharia law could one day operate as a subset of English law – within the system but not controlled by it.
Those who believe in the future of western civilization need constantly to be on their guard against apologists such as the Archbishop and as well as national figures such as Prince Charles, heir to the British throne , who has repeatedly voiced similar sentiments.
Thank goodness there are brave and determined U.S. legislators such as Janna Taylor who will not bow to political correctness or expediency but are prepared to take an assertive stand against sharia law and sponsor legislation that would impede its progress.
They deserve our support and our commendation.