Representatives of several faiths came to Nashville’s Capitol Hill today to support Tennessee Muslims in a fight to protect their religious law.
Tennessee’s legislature is considering a measure to make parts of Sharia law, the underpinnings of Islam, illegal.
Nadeem Siddiqi of Knoxville is a U-T graduate and a Vols fan.
“I sing the Star-Spangled Banner before every game, and I pledge the allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America. And I am a Muslim. And I see no contradiction in that.”
Siddiqi says says he’s not unusual among his fellow Muslims.
“…and Sharia demands, that I follow, and obey, the law of the land and the country in which I live.”
Among Siddiqui’s allies is Rabbi Kliel Rose, of the West End Synagogue. Rabbi Rose says he is speaking for himself and from the Jewish tradition.
“…so this has far-reaching effects. So first it’s Sharia, and then it’s Halaka, Jewish law. So as an observant Jew, you know, I have reasons to be very fearful of what’s to come, if this is passed.”
The measure has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but sponsor Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro has not made any attempt to move it since announcing the bill in mid-February.
The bill is SB 1028 Ketron/ HB 1353 Matheny.
The legislative staff analysis of the bill is here.
Remziya Suleyman, policy coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee Rights Coalition, says the bill is a broad attempt to usurp religious rights.
This debate is in no way about Sharia, or Islam. It is about whether our state government will uphold their values, of our constitution, and refrain from telling
Tennesseans which is a good, and a bad religion.
Siddiqi, who was born in the U.S.A., says the confusion over what Sharia law creates a dangerous precedent.
The bill would outlaw… Sharia, making it impossible to practice Islam.
Sharia law, he says, like the Christian Bible and the Jewish Talmud, tells its adherents how to live their lives in an ethical fashion.
Rev. Joseph P. Breen, a Catholic priest, joined the group.
I’d like to read you just a few words, not only of how I stand, but the way the Catholic Church feels. Our country was founded as a place of religious freedom, a refuge for those who were persecuted for their beliefs. Religious diversity is a basic right of everyone. As a Catholic, I share the belief with others that all religions have the same civil liberties. Unjust legislation against any religion is an assault on us all.