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. dx2718

    What a terrible idea! You can already prosecute people for breaking US laws, so if by practicing sharia law, they are breaking US law, then they are already criminals and can be punished according to US law. No extra law is needed targeting one particular religious group. Imagine if they made it illegal to keep a Kosher home!

    March 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. carlos

    such ignorance displayed here........errrrr.....and IQs below plant level......

    March 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Thatguy371

    Surprising to me I actually agree with the proposed law... but that's mainly because I think immigrants should become Americans... not just move here from another country and continue speaking that foreign language, not Americanizing their name, etc. etc.

    As Teddy Roosevelt said... We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dubrats

    why do all the focked up people in focked up other countrys,come over here to fock this country up too?.....we should just all pack it in and migrate somewhere else and leave it to all of em....but ya know they would just follow us where ever we go and it will start all over again....for so many of them hating america and all it stands for....they sure are beatin down the door to get in....

    March 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • pazke

      I would appreciate it very muchly if you would pack up and leave this country. Heck, I'll help you pack.

      March 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskan

      Ok come up here and help me pack.... I will let you pack my guns.... bullets first..... I don't care what others do as long as it doesn't bother me directly... Aka come to my house and tell me how to live and I will show you how I feel... A little copper clad lead is what is in store... If you want to practice a religion (any in that mater) as long as you arnt hurting me (phisicaly or mentally) or any of my friends or family then by all means have fun but step one foot on my property and try to run me then you'll find a big surprise in store for you....

      Also if you practice Islam then why are you here instead of the middle east? Could it be the violence? Or the brutal regime running the place...

      Now you come here and insult us? Because we don't care what you do as long as you follow our laws? But that's not good enough? That's like going to a chineese restraunt and complaining they don't have Mexican food.... Makes no sence.... There is a great saying "don't sh1t where you eat" anyone complaining here about "how could they do that!?" take a look where you just shat.... On the dinner table! The flag I salute is filled with stars and stripes and is red white and Blue!!! And these colors don't run!

      March 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CG

    I guess Muslims are the new blacks.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |

      That they are CG,that they are! You guessed right!!!

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

    RUFFNUTT, be careful what you wish for. If ignorance was against the law you would be in prison.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |

      If that was true Whiteberry,the vast majority of the people in Tennessee,the Tea Partiers and the people who vote for them would be. People desperately need to wise up and how!!!

      March 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sean M

    I hope this passes but they leave zenu amd the evil theatans alone......yes its ment to be sarcastic people!

    March 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin

    Every time I think that political / social debate in this country could not get loopier, I read something like that and realize that it can.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. meee

    And yes the radical sheiks are saying already an arab flag will fly over the whitehouse. .must have the white in the whitehouse not this token monkey whos only counted as 2/3 human

    March 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bemidjijack

    Why is there even a debate that US law should take precidence in US courtrooms? The fact that there is a debate goes to show just how dangerous Islam and Sharia law are.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quinapalus

      The difference is that this debate is being raised by legislators, not by Muslims. They count on public fear of Muslims to deliver votes. I haven't seen any indication that Muslims in Tennessee are trying to put Sharia Law on the books.

      Meanwhile, Muslims in America are targeted ever increasingly. Our country was founded on the ideals of liberty and tolerance, but it seems that those ideals are being torn asunder by fear and ignorance.

      My neighbors are my neighbors. Muslim, Black, White, Asian, it doesn't matter. The fate of this country affects us all equally, so it makes little sense to bicker and threaten each other.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Terry P

    This needs to be a national law – good Job Tennessee!

    March 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Terry P

    I see the Muslims are busy on this board.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      So anyone that disagrees with you is Muslim? interesting thesis.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quinapalus

      those durn mus-trash...

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

    I am SICK and TIRED of Muslims and their STUPID ideology. The DAY Sharia law is allowed ANYWHERE in the U.S., Muslim blood will flow in the streets. Islam is the scourge of mankind.

    March 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • USA#1

      @thisguy – Listen, don't you think 'Muslim blood in the streets" is a bit extreme and a rather reckless statement to make? Tenn is only the beginning. Other states are bound to follow. It's just a matter of time since the radical Muslim's are hell bent on changing America over to Sharia. We must fight it but not with violence.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quinapalus

      Muslims are impervious to bullets. We must use garlic.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. goat

    "Muslims go home!"


    *walks down the street to his house*

    March 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jma58

    It is even worse that they are following the lead of Oklahoma. Classic case of blind leading the blind only in this case it is the ignorant leading the ignorant.

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