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)

    I agree Upperhand – all the rednecks and stupid good old boys need to leave america! Well said.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sure bob

    sharia law can suck my ch.oad

    March 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Upperhand

      Waterfront can suck your ch.oad

      March 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mattmchugh

    Freedom of religion doesn't apply to a religion you don't like. Y'all 'member that now, y'hear?

    March 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waterfront

      Right on brother – freedom of religion is only for the white man's religion. The founding fathers were not muslim!

      March 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tennessee = retarded

      So basically your saying that you like penis

      March 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Johnny Muslim

    Read a book, it might change your life

    March 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pam

    This doesn't really make sense to me. If there are things in the Sharia law believers do that are breaking US laws, shouldn't we arrest them for breaking the US law that already exists? Why do we need to pass another law making this belief system illegal? I'm sure there are aspects of this belief system that do not cause any harm, which creates an issue with separation of church and state. I'm sure logic has nothing to do with it though. This is pretty clearly an issue of hate and ignorance.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Macker

      Under US law it is illegal to defame other people and incite violence. The Qur'an defames non-believers and incites violence but good luck arresting anyone for teaching it is infallible. I don't mind someone teaching that it is fiction but the minute you claim it's infallible in its totality you both defame me and incite violence against me.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Pope. There are Christian denominations that believe that the Bible is infallible and literal. Why don't we pass laws against them?

      March 7, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. Upperhand

    @RUFFASSS – I'm not a redneck you moron, but by all means leave America...you obviously don't care about it anymore...go live with some jihadi's.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank - Ohio

    If you have enough grease & a big enough hammer, you can put anything... anywhere. 🙂

    March 6, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Upperhand

      Grease up that big hammer because I'm a gonna put it where the sun don't shine you wuss.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Frank - Ohio

      @ upperhand
      "Are you really sure you want to get cute with me"?

      March 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Whew. I was affraid we were going to have Sharia forced on us by all those Muslm extremists in our state and local governments.....

    Allah be praised that we have been saved from that.

    Same folks voting yes on this bill also want to take away reproductive rights based on an extremist religious worldview – as well as forcing kids to pray in school and taxpayers to fund monuments to the Ten COmmandments and Jesus.....

    March 6, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allah

      Maybe reproductive rights need to be taken away – have you read some of the ignorant posters here?

      March 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Upperhand

    @ Johnny Muslim – Keep staying ignorant to the facts...this way you'll never see the truth...moron!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rue morgue

    My Sharia by The Knack – 1979

    Oh my little pretty one, pretty one
    When you gonna give me some time Sharia
    When you make my motor run, my motor run
    Gun it coming, off the line Sharia

    *Never gonna stop, give it up
    Such a dirty mind, always get it up
    For the touch of the younger kind
    My my my i yi woo
    My my my my Sharia

    Come a little closer huh, ah will ya huh,
    Close enough to look in my eyes Sharia
    Keeping it a mystery gets to me

    Running down the length of my thighs Sharia

    (Repeat *)

    When you gonna give it to me
    Give it to me
    It's just a matter of time Sharia
    Is it just destiny, destiny
    Or is it just a game in my mind Sharia

    (Repeat *)

    March 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Frank - Ohio

      My Sharona....yeah I happened to think of that one too, he he.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tcaros

    The only Sharia law is observed by Republicans. They are the real terrorists.. along with their daddy GWB.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Ok, now that was entertaining... entertaining me with your complete, and utter foolish ignorance. Got anymore?

      March 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      So now sending 10.000s soldier to die while killing 100.000 civilians and forcing millions to leave their home while adding $3 TRILLION to the deficit is terrorism?

      March 7, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Then you have the financial terrorism where you force the congress to hand over $700 BILLIONS in one go or else you will destroy the whole economy...

      March 7, 2011 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. 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 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 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      And all rational Americans, regardless of their religions, will be supporting you.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Odinate

    This is, simply put, a First Amendment issue. The law will be struck down faster than you can say fatwa. The implementation of Sharia law into the legal system, what the UK is facing, is what people ought to get worked up about; this, however, has yet to happen in the US. The only point where practicing Sharia law should be punished is where it is in direct opposition to US law. That goes for every faith.
    Even with freedom of religion, removing a thief's hand is illegal.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sure bob

    america should be all sharia law so bitter old muslim men may dominate us all

    March 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Waterfront

    Okay, I've read enough of ignorance on this forum, I've said my peace, now I'm signing off.....onto Fox news, where there is balance.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robear in Ojai

      Fox News? Balance?


      March 7, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
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