Tenn. Coalition to Ask Lawmakers to Drop Anti-Islam Bill Legislation 'drafted by David Yerushalmi,' head of anti-Muslim hate group
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/28/11) -- On Tuesday, March 1, a coalition of interfaith andcivil rights groups will hold a noon news conference in Nashville, Tenn., to urge lawmakers to drop an anti-Islam bill drafted by the head of an anti-Muslim hate group and introduced recently in that state's legislature.
WHAT: Nashville Press Conference on Tenn. Anti-Islam Bill WHEN: Tuesday, March 1, Noon WHERE: Tennessee Capitol Building, Legislative Plaza, Nashville, Tenn. (Call contact below on Tuesday morning for exact location.) CONTACT: CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
News conference participants will include faith leaders and representatives from theCouncil on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), the Interfaith Alliance, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).
"This clearly unconstitutional and un-American legislation would make it illegal to be a Muslim in the state of Tennessee," said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who will take part in Tuesday's news conference. "Consideration of this legislation, which completely disregards equality before the law, would send the unfortunate message that Tennessee is an intolerant state."
He called the legislation a "gross violation of both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment."
Abbas said identical bills (House Bill 1353/Senate Bill 1028) introduced earlier this month in the Tennessee House and Senate would criminalize "Sharia organizations," which in the language of the proposed legislation includes two or more individuals who support any "rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ja'afariya, or Salafi."
"What this bill ominously calls 'Sharia' is nothing more than the religious traditions that all Muslims use to guide the practice of their faith," said Abbas.
On its now password-protected website, SANE offered a policy proposal that would make "adherence to Islam" punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims and urged Congress to declare war on the "Muslim Nation," which SANE defined as "all Muslims."
SANE's mission statement included white supremacist language such as: "America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white." Another online SANE article stated: "There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote."
Yerushalmi is also staff attorney for Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. Gaffney was a key witness for the plaintiffs in a controversial lawsuit against a mosque being built in Tennessee.
Last year, CAIR's Oklahoma chapter was successful in blocking certification of an anti-Sharia amendment to that state's constitution. Other anti-Sharia bills have been introduced or passed in more than a dozen states. The language of many of those bills is modeled on David Yerushalmi's draft anti-Islam legislation.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.