By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – A proposed bill which would ban the use of foreign laws in Michigan court cases is causing a stir among local Islamic community leaders who say it unfairly targets Muslims.
Under the law, proposed by State Rep. David Agema (R-Grandville) the enforcement of foreign laws in court cases would be limited if those laws impede on an individual’s constitutional rights.
The bill, which will not be voted on until the House returns from recess today, is getting negative responses from Arab-American leaders in the area.
“This bill is a replica of other anti-Sharia bills that have been passed or sought to have been passed in other states,” Dearborn-based American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee National Advisor Imad Hamad said in a statement. “The newest bill, which calls for non-consideration of any foreign law by Michigan courts, is clearly an attack on the religious freedoms of Michigan residents and an affront to the entire judicial system of Michigan.”
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Southfield-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, Michigan Chapter, said that the law is only aimed at furthering Agema’s career.
“It appears that Mr. Agema is proposing a bill to score cheap political points,” he said. “He is joining the bandwagon (of people) who are using the foreign laws as a scare tactic for their political base.”
Walid added that if the bill passes, it could pose a threat to religious freedoms, including suppressing some of the religious rights not only of muslims, but of other minorities.
American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Legislative Director Shelli Weisberg said the law is unnecessary.
“The supreme law of the land is the Constitution, which already prohibits the the use of any foreign law,” Weisberg said. “It’s a solution looking for a problem.”
Walid said he believes the bill will not be passed due to its potential impact on the state’s still-recovering economy. He said the bill could give the impression that Michigan has an “unfriendly environment” for potential business growth.
“What we are hoping is that since the (Republican Party) is the majority, the party leadership will not allow this bill to go to the floor,” he said. “Michigan has suffered a negative population growth in the last decade. Two demographics that have increased are Muslims and Latinos. We don’t need anything that would hamper businesses moving into Michigan.”
Representatives from Agema’s office did not return phone calls seeking comment.
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected])