Kansas Anti-Sharia Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

A bill that would ban Sharia law in Kansas has passed both houses of the legislature and awaits the signature of the governor.

Last week, SB 79 was unanimously approved in the Kansas House by a vote of 120 to 0 and then approved in the State Senate in a vote of 33 to 3.

"Any court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the United States and Kansas constitutions," reads SB 79 in part.

While SB 79 does not specifically mention Sharia (Islamic) law by name, supporters and opponents both recognize that the purpose of the bill is to prevent Sharia from being legally applied in Kansas. In an interview with local media, Kansas State Senator Susan Wagle stated that this bill, if enacted, would be a victory for women's rights.

"They stone women to death in countries that have Sharia law," said Wagle. "If you vote to not adopt [SB 79], it's a vote against women."

The success of the bill has stirred controversy with some groups who feel the bill was based on misinformation and misconceptions of Islam.

"This bill and the others like it are based on misinformation and fear-mongering," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as quoted by the Kansas publication Lawrence Journal-World.

"The public's action in support of religious freedom is critical to prevent legalized discrimination against Muslims in Kansas and nationwide."

Simon Brown of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote on the blog "Wall of Separation" similar criticism.

"While the rest of us are busy worrying about the economy, partisan gridlock in Washington or maybe even the Facebook IPO, the Kansas legislature has been busy fighting off a perceived 'threat' from shariah law," wrote Brown.

"Brownback hasn't said what he will do with the anti-shariah bill, but stoning it would seem an appropriate response."

Literally meaning "the path to a watering hole" in Arabic, Sharia law is technically any law based on the Quran or Islam. However, it is often used to describe the strict Islamic law found in many countries overseas.

A survey of North American Muslims, by Dr. Judy Macfarlane of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, released in February 2012 found that none of those surveyed wanted Sharia law applied in the United States Court system.

Kansas is not the first state to have strong support for a bill outlawing Sharia law. In 2010, Oklahoma approved via referendum SQ 755, which 70 percent of voters supported. However, before it could take effect a court put an injunction on the measure and in January 2012 it was declared unconstitutional.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has not publicly stated whether or not he will sign the bill into law.