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. sarah in cape

    at LivinginVA, where did you ever hear that Catholiccs went to JAIL for eating meat on Friday?? Silly, silly person. I worked in a state prison for 15 years, and in all that time I think I met 2 Jews.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      I didn't say they did. I said that Sharia law covers MANY aspects of Muslim life. If a similar bill were passed regarding Catholics then, by refusing to eat meat on Fridays, they would be breaking the law and could go to jail. Or if it was regarding Jews, they could go to jail for refusing to eat pork or work on the Sabbath.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Munir Munshey

    This is what went on during the century and a half of the Spanish Inquisition:

    People were persecuted if smoke did not billow out of their chimneys during Ramadhan. That was taken as a proof that the residents of those houses were fasting and therefore practicing shariah.

    Citizens were not allowed to burry their dead unless a priest was present to make sure that the deceased’s head was not turned to one side as recommended by the shariah.

    Marriages were strictly forbidden unless performed by a priest and in the church.
    Children were not recognized as citizen (and legitimate) unless baptized in the church.

    Praying as practiced by Muslims was strictly illegal.

    The above measures failed. Then the religion of Islam was banned and all Muslims were ordered to convert to Christianity.

    Even that did not produce the desired results and finally all those who had not converted, as well as those who the priests determined had not converted sincerely to Christianity were expelled from their homeland.

    Nowadays in United States, would it not be simpler to order all non-Christians to be deported? Even if all Muslims were deported, Christians would continue to claim that they are the tolerant religion.

    The banning of the shariah may prove to be a prelude to banning the religion of Islam.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • rue morgue

      Good riddance.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ICWorld

      islam is not a religion it's just a friggin cult with braindead raghead followers..

      March 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. heath

    OK, the Ten Commandments tell us no adultery, no Lord's name in vain, no false idols, honor your parents, etc. Jesus (oops) folks, we can break all these laws in America but yet we haven't introduced legislation on the Ten Commandments??? If Sharia law is banned I am all for banning those outdated Ten no nos.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AnAmericanMuslimWoman

    Funny one of the "laws" of Shariah law is to abide by the laws of the land you are in...

    March 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • rue morgue


      March 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Republicans hate others

      Not all US citizens are as ignorant and idiotic as these legislators or the nuts posting tonight. I apologize for the jerks.

      March 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rue morgue

    The problem with Sharia, besides the simple barbarity, is the simple concept that it is *Gods* law or the *Prophets* law and *it* takes precedence over *all* secular laws. Even in predominantly Islamic countries which have secular laws (Indonesia), there is a second *justice* system based on Sharia and run by Islamic nutcases that can pre-empt the secular laws. We do *not* want anything like this in the USA, not the remotes precedence of this BS. Ban it.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack

    Why are republicans wanting to criminalize the practice of Sharia law now? Why didn't they do it 10 years ago?

    I've heard the following recently. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzing inside 🙂

    Whites are a minority in Texas. American – Mexican and Mexicans are the majority.

    Whites will be the minority race in the United States within 40 years. Mexicans will be the majority.

    Islam is the fastest growing religion worldwide, though not in the United States.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. camaroguy

    why are they allowed to pray on the street? christians don't do that, do they?

    March 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      There is nothing stopping a Christian from praying anywhere in public.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. L64

    They stop and pray wherever they are when it's time to pray.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Uncle Sam

    I am thanking God for showing true Americans the right path. Apparently you did not get the memo. You should be concerned about that;)

    March 6, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick Springfield

    Hammurabi ruled over Babylon in 1792 B.C and is credited for the basis of most modern legal systems including the Ten Commandments. Of course its interesting that Sadam Husein wanted to be a modern day Nebuchadnezzar. The only tiny winy problem with that is that after the encounter with the large furnace he converted to Zion. He was one of the first persons on Earth to psychically see Jesus. One reason for his conversion to Zion was his witness to the four men in the furnace, the three he threw in there and Jesus Christ standing next to them. Of course Babylon was conquered by the Muslims and they hold power to this day.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Isn't Tennessee the state where the 1925 "monkey trial" took place? Of course it is and that shows the backwardness of the people of Tennessee. These rednecks never change.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mm

    There should be no religious law to trump the civil laws. If Muslims want to live in a place where religious laws and civil law is the same then there are lots of Muslim countries where they can take their behind to and go live in peace or whatever! Keep that crap out of the American justice system. One law for every man regardless of religion!

    March 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mm

    America is not a Muslim country! Take that shiria crap to a Muslim country and live happily there. If the law of this land don't please, move, leave, please, please go!

    March 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rue morgue

    Can we amend Sharia? Can we add thar all who practice Sharia must eat pork during Ramadan.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John Pedant

    Er . . . can . . . er . . . gay people commit adultery too, or do we also get stoned? (For the record, I WAS stoned when I did it. Sorry)

    March 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
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