Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law
Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade last year in New York.
March 6th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," airs March 27 at 8 p.m. ET.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has been the epicenter of a months-long battle over the construction of a new mosque in the Nashville suburb. It's one example of many concerning Muslims in America, and how cities and communities are responding to efforts to build Islamic places of worship.

That battle got fiercer when two state lawmakers, one representing Murfreesboro, introduced legislation that would make it a felony to practice Sharia law, which includes lessons found in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and which can inform how Muslims live their everyday lives, including prayer rituals. Many Muslims consider Sharia law to outline basic tenets of living a moral life. What is Sharia law?

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who are backing the same bill in the Senate and House, describe Sharia law as dangerous to U.S. national security, according to the Tennessean newspaper. The bill grants Tennessee's attorney general the power to investigate complaints about anyone who might be practicing Sharia law.

The possible punishment for practicing Sharia law is 15 years behind bars.

Last year, construction equipment on the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro was torched, and police suspect arson. Signs on the mosque property were vandalized with spray paint reading, "Not welcome." Two other proposed Islamic centers in Tennessee stoked much controversy last year.  A Crusaders' cross was spray-painted on the side of a Nashville mosque, next to the words, "Muslims go home." In Williamson County, not far from Murfreesboro, plans to build a mosque were quashed after residents complained a turn lane into the building would be too costly. The debate over a mosque near ground zero in New York is still raging. The U.S. Justice Department supports the Murfreesboro mosque.

Tennessee isn't the first state to consider anti-Sharia law legislation. Oklahoma passed a similar bill last year. This month Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley said he would support a bill that "maintains that U.S. law shall take precedence in U.S. courts," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tilley referenced a case, frequently cited in the debate concerning the Oklahoma law, in which a New Jersey judge relied on Islamic law to rule in a case involving domestic violence.

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Filed under: Missouri • Oklahoma • Politics • St. Louis • Tennessee • U.S.
soundoff (972 Responses)
  1. Me

    So more proof that TN is a raciest state.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Pedant

      "Raciest" sounds good. Who would not want to be racy (let alone raciest)? Even racists (indeed, especially racists) could profit from that.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NotTrue

    um, no...you're 100% wrong. Allowing for Sharia law is wrong for our country. But I'm sure as a knee-jerk liberal you probably haven't a clue what Sharia law states.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      There is no reason for the law. Civil Law already trumps religious law in the US. We don't forbid Catholics from remarrying, or prosecute Jews who work on Saturday.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don McLaughlin

      >> There is no reason for the law. Civil Law already trumps religious law in the US. We don't forbid Catholics
      >> from remarrying, or prosecute Jews who work on Saturday.
      Exactly!! Nor are members of Judaism allowed to stone members of their faith for certain offenses as suggested by the book of Leviticus. However, Jews are allowed to live by their religious and civil codes where there are no conflicts. Just as Jewish women are encouraged to marry within the faith, so there should be no law against Muslims encouraging women to wear the burqa . If a Jewish woman wishes to marry outside the faith, it is against the law to force her to. In the same manner if a woman wishes to put the burqa aside, it would be against the law to force her to wear it.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Muggsy3

      uh huh, and muslim women who try to defy Sharia dictates or *GASP* get away from abusive owners...oops I mean fathers, brothers, husbands... end up beaten or DEAD. and this is IN THE USA and within the last 5 years!! dont bother telling me moderate muslims dont do that. I give U that NYC radio station owner who beheaded his wife for filing for divorce after years of abuse. THAT is a chilling example in an 8th century mindset indelibly seated in the psyche by a religious ideology based on violence, intolerance and complete domination.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      And the guy in NYC was found guilty of murder under existing laws. Just like the guy who murdered the abortion doctor. Seems to me that your example proves we DON'T need a separate law.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      For some reason my replies aren't posting as replies....the comment about "that man was found guilty" was in reply to Muggsey3

      March 7, 2011 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      sure u didnt hit the reply under that name, make sure u look at it again

      March 7, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Nope, I hit reply, and in, fact, it came up saying "Leave a reply to....", but then it posted it by itself. Odd, because it wasn't doing that last night.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Mcaswell82

      You mention a case here and a case there. There are litterally millions of Muslim Americans in this country surely we should hear more about these cases right? Or is it that the media just tries to focus on that one story in attempt to belittle a peoples religion? There are way more stories about Christian husbands killing their wives and wives killing their husbands. Heck we even started calling white undershirts "wifebeaters!" Because that's what so many Christians got arrested wearing after they beat their wives.Oh and you're right some Muslims have used their religion for violence since it was established in the 8th century. Christians were exploiting their religion for violent purposes for 800 years before that. Or don't you remember The Crusades? How about The Inquisition heck Mel Brooks had a song he wrote about it in History of the World Part 1.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elvis Mohammad

      We don't??

      March 6, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • badcat

      Absolutely correct! Ya cut off someone's hand, for certain YOU are going to jail. This i s part of the Republican's spinless fear mongering. What frightened cowards they are!!

      March 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dore

    This is unamerican and discriminatory. Where Sharia Law does not diverge significantly from the laws of our land, and where all parties agree- it should be allowed. No one is going to allow a hand to be chopped off for stealing. Other ethinic groups are allowed this same leeway, American Indians, Jews, and others. To banish a culture because at some point in time a group is unpopular is unamerican- it's wrong and simply.. not our way.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LivinginVA

    Sharia Law covers MANY aspects of Muslim life. Among other things, this is the equivalent of passing a law saying Catholics can go to jail if they don't eat meat on Fridays, or Jews if they refuse to eat seafood or pork. Jewish and won't work on Saturday? Spend up to 15 years in jail.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sarah in cape

    We better all hope no form of sharia law is ever allowed here. If the Muslims get rights to practice Sharia law, they will hold their own courts and pass out their own punishments. Be prepared to see fingers and hands cut of, and children who steal bread have their arm held down so it can be run over by a jeep. And women will be buried in sand so the men can stone them to death, if suspected of infedelity. (They manage to get around the required witnesses.)They say this stuff comes from god because it is written in the Koran. Muslims will never be able to abide by United States laws, because it is AGAINST their religion. WE are the infedels as far as they are concerned.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Muslims have lived by the laws of he US for several centuries now.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Common Sense Chuck

    I'm all for Sharia Law! If you commit adultery, then it's death. If you steal, then it's a hand cut off. If you speak out against Islam, then it's death! The punishment for these same crimes in the Christian faith and under US law is exactly the same. You guys are a bunch of retards! Oops, I'm sorry....mentally challenged for the politically correct..

    March 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      You are an idiot and need to be deported.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*joe

      So speaking out against islam results in death is a good thing? That is ridiculous. Here is an idea, f islam. Gotta problem w it? Good. Come get me if you can handle it u soft liberal ba$tards. I know, I know youj response will be something like typical republican american. Gotta use muscle instead of smarts, don't think of others...yadda yadda yadda. Great defense, the fact is I'm probably as intelligent if not more and tougher and stronger. And I like it that way because when you try to enforce your garbage laws on me your gonna get you weak little a$$ beat the american way, the way it should be. Ill even help you into the ambulance.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don McLaughlin

      Don't really care what you think of Islam Joe, I simply intend to defend my right to mind my own business and be a practicing Muslim. I could care less whether you practice Sharia Law... sorta like Jews having no interest in whether you keep the kosher laws. However, we American Muslims will be defending our right to free religious expression. We will be taking it all the way to the United States Supreme Court...

      March 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Nobody said to not practice your religion. Go ahead chachee but the laws shouldn't be changed because someone decided to fly over here and turn this great country into a seperated country. its a melting pot, or was and you should melt into what is already into place. if you don't like it, get the hell out. Why did you or your parents come here to begin with? A better life? I'm sure. But remember, this country is the way it is because of our laws, not yours. What use to be the American way made this country great. Now the liberals are ruining it, taxing the hell out of us and now you people want to change what is great to suit their needs. F that.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Show me ANY evidence that Muslims are trying to change the law so that Sharia law takes precedence over US Civil Law.

      On the other hand – liquor laws, laws restricting abortion and arguements against gay marriage – all spearheaded by Christians.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Nonny

      Maybe you could check out the problems in Europe LivinginVa.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Havardfbl

      nice spelling champ.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • z

      why don't you pratice in a Country other that ours, you under estimate the power of the AMerican People you will not pratice Sharia Law you will not have any rights other than living in this great nation, we are not going to accomate you and your stupid religion that believes in nothing but death and destruction. Do us all a favor Move

      March 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Republicans hate others

      2 REPUBLICAN legislators are trying to force a law on the people of Tennesee, nobody on this board is trying that. So much for your "smarts". Hope your brawn is better utilized.

      March 6, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Such a kind-hearted person you seem to be. Very Christian. Your mother should be proud.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • StormeeATL

      "Gotta use muscle instead of brains" – I guess you don't have much of a choice on that one, huh Name*joe?

      March 8, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lee Oates

    What can you expect. Its Tennessee. The most backward state in the US, right under Arizona.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rabidmob

    I still wonder how a judge could think to use sharia law in a US court. People should be able to govern themselves by whatever laws they see fit in the United States, however we should have only one law that governs others and society written down in our books of law.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    El, if you see this meet me on this one or the first blog

    March 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Derek from Boston

    I'm confused.

    What act, exactly, would be illegal?

    Building a mosque? Paying the Poor tax? Praying to Kaaba? Fasting?

    Someone help me out, here...

    March 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Harold

    What is the difference between this and Wisconsin and that wingnut. If we do not get rid of the wingnuts, we will have a one religion dictatorship. They want less government, well to me less government equals less regulation not more. The only thing I have not heard is the wingnuts trying to regulate the time you go to the bathroom. People in this country better wise up and fast. WE will become a one religion, one party dictatorship. Then we will have to go through a Libya or Egypt. Actually letting the wing nuts gain control will mean the corporations will be in charge and we will look like the poor parts of India. Not a pleasant site.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |

    btw i was going to hire a Sharia lawyer to fight a speeding ticket but now i guess i cant.. guess i'll just have to get stoned

    March 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. splasher6

    I hope California will embrace it! They deserve it

    March 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. james

    Gee, CNN's only a week behind everyone else in reporting this. Wonder why?

    March 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ken

    They really don't see any irony in going to court to demand that biblical law be applied to marriages whilst simultaneously condemning others for wanting laws based in religion. They talk about the extreme ends of Sharia Law, but they don't realize that this makes about as much sense as banning the ten commandments just because some idiot might try to kill an abortion doctor. We have plenty of laws, but now they legislators aren't just making laws to make themselves seem necessary, they're making them to divide a nation.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
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