JEFFERSON CITY • A bill prohibiting state courts from using or recognizing Sharia law passed the Missouri House Wednesday on a 102-51 vote.
The legislation, which was sponsored by state Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, bans Missouri courts from utilizing foreign law or legal code in any ruling. Although it never specifically mentions the words “Sharia” or “Islam," Wednesday’s debate focused almost exclusively on Sharia law, which is the religious law of Islam.
“This bill is not all about Sharia Law,” Curtman said. "It’s Sharia Law, French law, Dutch law or anything else.”
Since the beginning of 2009, numerous states have considered proposals to ban Sharia. During last year's elections, Oklahoma voters passed a referendum banning state courts from considering international or Islamic law. However, it was later blocked by a federal judge who said that the law was unconstitutional.
Legislation similar to Curtman’s was introduced in the Missouri Senate by Republican Brian Nieves but has yet to gain traction. The House bill picked up momentum earlier this session when House Speaker Steve Tilley threw his support behind it, saying “the laws of this country should trump any other laws regarding the citizens of our country within our borders."
Speaking in opposition to the measure, State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said she’d like to help educate Curtman on Sharia law.
“I truly believe you think you’re doing the right thing,” she said while talking to Curtman on the House floor, later adding: “I don’t think that you have ill intentions, so I would encourage you to become familiar with Sharia Law. I’d really like to sit down with you and we can study together and come to a better understanding of what Sharia Law is, how it works and what it does.”
Last week, the inaugural Muslim Lobby Day was held at the Capitol, in part due to the anti-Sharia legislation introduced this year.
Despite the criticism from Democrats, Curtman remained resolute that his legislation was needed.
“This bill is about one thing and one thing only, and that is to protect the fundamental rights that are guaranteed to our citizens under our founding documents, in the federal constitution and in our state constitution,” he said.