Islamic Shariah Law Court Opens in Texas to Oversee Divorce, Business and Civil Disputes

Shariah law
A woman holds a placard during a march and rally in east London, December 13, 2013. They were participating in a rally organized by British Islamist Anjem Choudary condemning use of alcohol and promoting Shariah law. |

The mayor of Irving, Texas, claims that the first known Islamic Tribunal court in the United States won't have legal authority to impose Shariah law in the state.

In a statement posted on her Facebook page Friday, Irving Mayor Beth van Duyne denied that the Islamic Tribunal at the Islamic Center of Irving has garnered legal power.

"Recently, there have been rumors suggesting that the city of Irving has somehow condoned, approved or enacted the implementation of a Shariah law court in our city," wrote van Duyne.

"Let me be clear, neither the city of Irving, our elected officials or city staff have anything to do with the decision of the mosque that has been identified as starting a Shariah court."

Last week, multiple news sources reported that a Sunni mosque in Irving has decided to establish an Islamic Tribunal to hear disputes among the Muslim community.

In interviews with local media, Islamic Tribunal members asserted that the purpose of the Islamic Tribunal is to give an Islamic perspective on how Muslims should act, and nothing more.

"We are not here to invade the White House or invade Austin. … We are humble and want to settle a problem between Muslims," said Imam Moujahed Bakhach. "Maybe in their mind, the misconception about what they see through the media is that Shariah means cut the head, chop the heads, cut the hands, and we are not in that."

Van Duyne added that, as part of her oath as mayor, she's obligated to uphold the laws of the state and U.S. Constitution, and won't allow the Shariah court to violate citizens' rights.

"Texas Supreme Court precedent does not allow the application of foreign law that violates public policy, statutory, or federal laws," continued van Duyne. "I am working with our State Representatives on legislation to clarify and strengthen existing prohibitions on the application of foreign law in violation of constitutional or statutory rights."

In an interview with CBN, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. believes greater coercion would follow with the tribunal.

"I think what we will see is a coercion of Muslims to participate in this program," said Gaffney in a CBN story posted last weekend. "[Shariah] is a brutally repressive — very hostile to women, hostile to homosexuals, hostile to Jews, hostile to Christians — kind of totalitarian system."

In her statement, van Duyne stressed that "if it's determined that there are violations of basic rights occurring, I will not stand idle and will fight with every fiber of my being against this action."

"Our nation cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own," added van Duyne. "The American Constitution and our guaranteed rights reigns supreme in our nation and may that ever be the case."

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