Rep. Eric Redman, R-Post Falls, introduced his first bill on Wednesday: A measure seeking to ban recognition of Sharia, or Islamic, law in Idaho courts.
Idaho Spokesman Redman distributed stacks of handouts to the Idaho House Ways and Means Committee including a photo of a severed hand and printouts from websites critical of Islam (Gee, I wonder which ones?). The committee voted 4-3 along party lines to introduce the bill.
The bill follows model legislation developed by the American Public Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that warns of foreign laws infiltrating the U.S. court system and has gotten similar laws passed in several states. A 2010 Oklahoma constitutional amendment forbidding that state’s courts from considering Sharia law in decisions was overturned in federal court in 2013.
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, voted against the bill saying, “There is no issue right now, there is no issue. And to bring this piece of legislation and the supporting documents that showed severed hands and called the Prophet Mohammed a pedophile was just beyond the pale.”
Rusche said even introducing the bill “ makes us look really bad yet again, and especially to companies that have international markets.”
Redman, who has been a state representative for two years, said he’s been working on the bill since September. He said he’s concerned that family-law cases in the U.S. could be influenced by foreign or Sharia law, though Idaho has had no such cases.
“You’ve got ISIS, San Bernardino,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues that are very challenging, and we want to keep our state from getting into those challenges. That’s why I spent so much time working on it and researching it.”
Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane wrote in an attorney general’s opinion requested by Redman that the bill does not appear to violate the federal or state constitutions.
Fears over sharia law and Muslim culture have been a growing theme in Idaho, starting with a former Muslim turned Christian pastor (below) who met with a dozen lawmakers in the Idaho Capitol last year to call for limiting Islamic immigration and blocking refugees from settling in the state. A few months later, lawmakers were forced to gather for a special legislative session to pass state laws to comply with federal regulations after a handful of legislators warned child support laws were connected to Shariah law.
Meanwhile, a Twin Falls refugee resettlement center has come under fire from critics arguing that it should be shut down because of fears the refugees would be radicalized Muslims, terrorists in disguise.
Pastor Shahram Hadian, a former Muslim, says that Idaho’s refugee programs should be halted, and that legal immigration from Islamic countries be limited.