by Iman Naim June 8, 2014, 1:48 p.m.
Note: This bill did not pass, and therefore did not turn into law. This op-ed was written when the bill was active, but the op-ed did not make it to publication and no fault of the author.- Editor.
A potential new Georgia law has many members of the Atlanta Muslim community angered and urging for a change. The law, House Bill 242, intends to guarantee that religious laws—like Sharia—aren't used by Georgia judges for cases such as divorce and child-custody. But when judges already disregard foreign law, why does Georgia need the extra protection?
'There is no scenario where the court would apply laws of another land over this system—it is already illegal. Why do we need a bill to reiterate that?' said Atlanta attorney, M. Khurram Baig, of the discriminatory bill.
Because the bill is unnecessary, it's existence makes the Muslim community seem out of control, disreputable in the community's eyes, and something to be scared of. As if, in order to keep them in line and, they must be put under extra scrutiny and given more restrictions than necessary.
Supports of the bill are arguing that the passing of this bill wouldn't make Georgia stand out from other states because it is not the first state to attempt to pass a law similar to House Bill 242—Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona have already passed similar laws. However, the laws were unpopular in the communities, and Oklahoma revoked their law after a religious freedom lawsuit.
'What Americans call Sharia law only refers to criminal conduct,' said Baig. But in reality, Sharia is much more than that. Sharia is the code of conduct based on lessons from the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims refer to for matters such as fasting, praying, giving charity, and performing marriage and funeral rituals.
'[Repealing the bill will] require education and the announcement that the majority of people are not behind this bill,' said Baig, 'If it's popular, they will support its passing. If it isn't, they'll leave it alone.'
A majority unpopular vote is likely, considering that Muslims are not the only religious group that will be negatively impacted by the bill. There is a concern that Georgian Jews who also have Israeli citizenship will have problems because Israel has a religious-oriented law, and that international business and trade will be impacted.
Any bill that causes the public so much inconvenience and unrest should be curbed instantly, and measures should be taken to ensure that such a harmful idea is never considered again.