By Richard H. Shulman

NOTE: Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, Aziz Huq, has argued against proposals in about 20 states to prohibit courts from considering or using Islamic law or other foreign law. He fails to contrast Islamic law and its associated practices with American law and to explain most objections to instituting Islamic law. This failure forfeits his case. In the essay below, can be read in context in Appendix A. I comment after each of his contentions. -- RHS

Professor Huq argues against banning foreign law in state courts.

Prof. Huq takes up this issue in isolation. I would place it in the overall context of global jihad. America is being attacked by jihadists. They have declared war. Efforts to establish Islamic law, first for Muslims, and then over the rest of us, are both part of the Islamic struggle to dominate us and the goal of that struggle.

Americans mistakenly believe that since Islam is called a religion, it is like the traditional religions in America. Christianity, however, has a much more limited sphere in life for religion than does Islam. Islam infuses its values into a way of life, governing almost everything. Therefore, Islamic law would clash with American law on, among other things: (1) Freedom of religion — by deeming other religions inferior and imposing constraints on them and by condemning apostates from Islam to death; (2) Freedom of expression — by condemning authors and publishers critical of Islamist persecution of others; (3) Equal rights for women -- by considering their testimony inferior and by punishing them for rumored and mild sexual expression.


Prof. Huq declares the proposed laws discriminatory and pointless. After all, he writes, civil liberties organizations are suing and lobbying against the proposals.

Discrimination would be serious, but why the State proposals are discriminatory is poorly explained. That flaws Prof. Huq's case. Nor are the civil liberties groups named. These days, they often work for discrimination and against civil liberties. Dozens of organizations calling themselves human rights NGOs, as a cover for anti-Zionist agitation, seek to destroy the Jewish nation's rights.


More specifically, Prof. Huq complains that the proposals "would deprive Muslims of equal access to the law. A butcher would no longer be able to enforce his contract for halal meat — contracts like deals for kosher or other faith-sanctioned foods, are regularly enforced..."

Not true about contracts. Muslims still may prepare meat ritualistically. Since Islamic preparation does not contravene public policy, the way polygamy does, contracts for the sale of such meat would be enforceable. What the government would not be allowed to do would be to make religious decisions about it and may not require that meat be prepared religiously for anybody.


The other example of alleged discrimination is inability of Muslims to have Islamic banking rules enforced among Muslims.

This sub-topic is beyond my competence. However, it is not an example of discrimination. It does not pick on Muslims. This example really is of Muslims complaining that they are not given special privileges.


Why are the State bills laws pointless? Prof. Huq contends there is no problem with Islamic law, because no government in the U.S. intends to adhere to Islamic or other religious doctrine.

This is misleading. Let us consider the Islamic program as the context within which nests the issue of Islamic law. Bear in mind that Islam considers itself entitled to dominate every society, most Muslims favor imposition of Islamic law, and Radical Muslims tend to fight for it.

In Europe, Canada, and the U.S., Muslims constitute a powerful and contentious group that has imposed its views on society in various ways. In accordance with Islamic views, and as a result of extreme multi-culturalism, Europe, Canada, and some universities in the U.S. have enacted "hate speech" laws or rules. These laws or rules criminalize speech and writing that criticize religions and ethnic groups. The criticism may be truthful, may defend national security against Radical Islamic subversion, and may be objective and not expressive of hatred. Nevertheless, it can be penalized. Enforcement almost always is against critics of Islam, most of whom cite facts and do not exhort to violence. Seldom are such laws enforced against Muslims, who routinely slander other groups and do exhort to violence or, what amounts to the same thing with their volatile followers in a faith built upon violent jihad, praise religious violence. This unequal enforcement of the law is discrimination!

Then there is libel tourism. Some countries have libel laws that permit non-citizens to sue foreigners if anything they say or write critically about some religion or ethnicity makes its way into a country having such a law. The U.S. does not assume such universal jurisdiction. Neither does U.S. libel law equate criticism to guilt. America considers truth a defense, as is only fair. London permitted a wealth Saudi to sue over works that criticized aspects of Islam, even jihad, and force them to withdraw publication.

Some authors and publishers could not afford the cost of litigation. The Saudi was abusing the law and waging a form of jihad. In reaction, New York State and eventually the federal government passed a law barring foreign application of European libel laws to American citizens in such circumstances.

Contrary to the author's assertion, Muslims are indeed campaigning to impose Islamic law on Western societies gradually. The emphasis is on gradual. The more gradual, the less noticed and the more successful.


Ridiculing the proposals, Prof. Huq contends that American courts are not likely to assist in Islamic subordination of women.

But that is just what the agitation for acceptance of Islamic law, at least regarding women, seeks. Islamic rules for divorce are based on Islamic inequality of women.

Leftist American liberals, including our President, have expressed admiration for foreign cultures and for subordinating American sovereignty to international organizations, some of which are dominated by Islamic members. They dislike American individualism and leadership. American judges have been urged, and some are receptive, to rule on the basis of foreign law and the ethos of international organizations. Such rulings really are unconstitutional.

Britain condones Islamic polygamy by granting welfare payments to multiple wives. Suggestions are made to be tolerant of "honor" slayings as expressions of the immigrant culture. In Israel, Arabs demand recognition as a separate nationality entitled to regulate themselves and schools there.

The next examples are not related to new law but to lack of enforcement of existing law. Muslims self-segregate themselves in France, Britain, etc., and then intimidate police not to enter. In those countries, students attack teachers who adhere to the curriculum on history. The effect is to steer education in an Islamic direction. Arabs set up university Middle East Studies centers in the U.S.. These centers follow the Islamic line and wage a propaganda jihad. Leftist professors and administrations permit some campus mobs to shout down speakers and intimidate Jews.


/The author also complains that the proposed bans would stimulate public bias against Muslims "by endorsing the idea that Muslims are second-class citizens. They encourage and accelerate both the acceptability of negative views of Muslims and the expression of those negative views by the public and government... Such indignities arise amid a pattern of growing animus toward American Muslims." The author attempts to buttress those claims by assertions of reports of employment discrimination, polls, and hate crimes. Some polls were taken by him.

If his unknown polls are to be cited as evidence, did the newspaper vet his questions, the polls' reliability, and his own reliability? Not stated. Apparently the professor wants to squelch Americans' objection to honor killings, Islamic religious discrimination, and holy war. Americans have a right to reject those Islamic values.

Muslims who oppose bans intended to preserve the American way of life and liberty are asking for privileges for themselves, the very problem that the author denies. He fails to explain what about the bans would make Muslims second-class citizens.

Part of jihad is to pretend that Muslims are the victims rather than the aggressors. The U.S. government constantly calls for tolerance of Muslims, to the point of threatening national security by failing to recognize that Radical Islam, if not normative Islam, seeks to subvert the American way of life. Actually, hate crimes against Muslims are a fraction of the total. Most Americans realize it is wrong to blame and punish individuals for having beliefs that Islamist extremists abuse to the point of sedition. But Radical Islam calls for murdering all Jews regardless of their individuality and normative Islam follows the same Koran. Hence, many hate crimes against Jews in the U.S. and in Europe are committed by Muslims. Antisemitism might have died down, but Muslims have been spreading it, especially in Europe and the Muslim world. What says the professor about that? He lacks introspection and balance.


/The most serious criticism of the proposals is that they jeopardize national security. Prof. Huq warns that the proposed laws would chill cooperation by Muslims with anti-terrorism efforts.

It already is chilled. He has not justified the demand for special religious laws (probably unconstitutional) by a group that mostly holds back on cooperating in American national security. An old Muslim Arab tactic is to threaten that their co-religionists will harm security if they don't get what they want. That is a form of blackmail. He and all the Muslims professors ought to encourage their fellow worshipers to cooperate against terrorism, not threaten us that the faithful won't cooperate unless they become a privileged faith. How come he doesn't demand more of his fellow worshipers?

We are left with the problem of mosques being not a universal but a significant source of national security problems.


"Defend Muslims, Defend America" by Aziz Huq

Opinion Pages, New York Times June 19, 2011
Aziz Huq is an assistant professor of law at the University of Chicago.

WITH an eye toward the 2012 elections, legislators in six states have been debating laws explicitly prohibiting courts from considering or using Sharia law, with 14 more looking at wider bans on "foreign law." They're taking a clear cue from Oklahoma's wildly popular Sharia ban, which voters approved as a state constitutional amendment last year by more than 70 percent.

Such laws are discriminatory and pointless. Civil liberties groups are fighting them in court and calling on state legislators to abandon such bills. But there is an additional reason everyone, including would-be proponents of the laws and the federal government, should oppose them: they pose a significant threat to national security.

To begin with, the bans' justifications are thin. Despite the worries voiced by candidates in the recent Republican candidates' debate in New Hampshire, no state, county or municipality is about to realign its laws with religious doctrine, Islamic or otherwise. Nor does any state or federal court today in Oklahoma, or anywhere else, need to enforce a foreign rule repugnant to public policy. Under the legal system's well-established "choice of law" doctrines, the courts are already unlikely to help out someone who claims their religion allows, say, the subordination or mistreatment of women.

Instead, the bans would deprive Muslims of equal access to the law. A butcher would no longer be able to enforce his contract for halal meat — contracts that, like deals for kosher or other faith-sanctioned foods, are regularly enforced around the country. Nor could a Muslim banker seek damages for violations of a financial instrument certified as "Sharia compliant" since it pays no interest.

Moreover, these bans increase bias among the public by endorsing the idea that Muslims are second-class citizens. They encourage and accelerate both the acceptability of negative views of Muslims and the expression of those negative views by the public and government agencies like the police.

Such indignities arise amid a pattern of growing animus toward American Muslims. Reports of employment discrimination against Muslims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which declined after a post-9/11 peak, have recently surged. Gallup, Pew and ABC polls confirm a new spike in anti-Muslim views. Most troubling, tallies of hate crimes collected by nongovernmental organizations show the same trend.

In this context, bans like the one in Oklahoma will serve to chill cooperation by the Muslim-American community with counterterrorism efforts. This makes sense: in such an environment, it would be fair for Muslims to pause before, say, passing on a lead to the police, worrying about whether the police would then look at them with suspicion as well.

But the likelihood of such a chill is also supported by four large, random-sample surveys that I conducted with two colleagues, Tom Tyler and Stephen Schulhofer. Our data, collected from Muslims and non-Muslims in New York and London, suggest that the experience and perception of private discrimination have a significant negative effect on cooperation.

This not only affects everyday public safety, but also the interaction necessary to gather information about self-radicalization and domestic efforts to recruit terrorists. After all, it's simply impossible for the government to gather all that information. For that it must rely on the public, both as a filter and as an aid in interpreting it. If the government lacks strong ties to the Muslim-American community, that kind of filter falls apart.

To prevent the erosion of such support, the Justice Department should better publicize its support for a pending challenge to the Oklahoma amendment. It should also announce that it will challenge similar measures as violations of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion. Doing so would not only protect the rights of Muslim-Americans, but also send a signal that they can rely on the federal government's support.

To be sure, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has taken steps against anti-Muslim bias, for example by supporting a California schoolteacher's suit challenging her dismissal for taking time off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. But these steps are inadequate compared to the scope of public and private discrimination facing Muslim-Americans.

America has been here before. In 1952, Attorney General James P. McGranery filed a legal brief for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, in part, he said, out of national security concerns. "Racial discrimination furnishes grist for Communist propaganda mills," he said, and "raises doubts even among friendly nations as to the intensity of our devotion to the democratic faith."

McGranery's insight remains true today. The federal government needs to do more to defend equal access to the law regardless of faith. To do so is not simply to uphold our core values — it is also to work to improve our nation's security.


Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several web-based forums. His comments and analyses appear often on Think-Israel. He provides cool information and right-on-target overviews. He distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him at

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