Those like Newt Gingrich who try to exploit sharia hysteria to foster fear of Muslims in the US not only fail to understand sharia, they also fail to understand the ideals of religious freedom upon which America was built.
Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor
Los Angeles and Portland, Ore.
There are those who would have you believe that Islamic law, or sharia, is taking over America. They seem to allege that the 1 percent of the American population that is Muslim is on the verge of a total takeover of the United States, and if Americans are not vigilant, soon we’ll all be stoning adulterers and chopping off the hands of thieves.
Take Rep. Allen West (R) of Florida, who recently alleged that, “there is an infiltration of the sharia practice into all of our operating systems in our country as well as across Western civilization. So we must be willing to recognize that enemy.”
If that kind of hyperbolic statement sounds ludicrous, it’s because it is. Yet nearly two-dozen states have proposed legislation to prohibit the use of sharia.
Yes, it is clear that all of these laws will share the fate of Oklahoma’s anti-sharia law, which was blocked by a federal court on the grounds that it was both unconstitutional and an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist. (Proponents of the measure could not cite even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied sharia law.) But the very existence of such laws is an indication of how disturbingly mainstream sharia hysteria has become in the US.
Perhaps no political figure exemplifies this reality better than Newt Gingrich, who has made a constitutional amendment banning sharia in America one of the cornerstones of his presidential campaign. Mr. Gingrich has called sharia “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” He claims, rather fancifully, that Muslims in the US want to manipulate sharia into US legislation.