Saturday, March 3, 2012


CAIR Asks South Dakota Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/29/12) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto a bill (HB 1253) that the civil rights group says is "unconstitutional and anti-Muslim" and negatively impacts the religious practices of all of that state's residents.

[ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be polite and respectful.) Contact South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard here and request to speak to the "Director of Constituents."]

In a letter sent to the governor today, CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas wrote in part:

"HB 1253 is un-American to its core and violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. State Representative Roger Hunt, the sponsor of HB 1253, admits that the bill is designed to attack Sharia, the religious principles of American Muslims.

"Before the State House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hunt clearly stated the purpose of this biased bill when he said, 'I would be less than fully honest with you if I didn't also say that part of the purpose of [HB] 1253 is to deal with what I am going to say generally has been referred to as Sharia Law.'

SEE: Rep. Hunt Before the Judiciary Committee (At 2:30:20)
South Dakota HB 1253, Judicial Enforcement of Religious Codes
HB 1253, Bill History

"HB 1253 unconstitutionally stigmatizes South Dakota Muslims by declaring that their faith and practices -- encapsulated by the term 'Sharia Law' -- is somehow a danger to South Dakota. What Rep. Hunt disparages as 'Sharia Law' is nothing more than the religious traditions that Muslims use to guide the practice of their faith. Much like other faiths, these religious traditions inform individuals in everyday decisions involving marriage, business transactions and estate planning. Proponents of HB 1253 can point to no example of the faith of South Dakota Muslims posing a problem.

"If HB 1253 were signed into law today, it would be a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause. It would also communicate to the nation and the world that South Dakota does not welcome religious minorities as it unconstitutionally deprives them of their freedom to practice their faith. This bill not only discriminates against South Dakota Muslims but prevents persons of all faiths from incorporating into their wills, contracts and other legal documents provisions that reflect their religious traditions -- a freedom protected by the U.S. Constitution and the South Dakota Constitution ... .

"While there is a readiness to vindicate in courts the constitutional rights that HB 1253 violates, we are hopeful that you will remain true to the founding principles of our nation's Constitution and veto HB 1253."

HB 1253 is one of more than 20 similar pieces of legislation introduced in state legislatures nationwide that prohibit any state court from consideration or application of any "religious code" or "foreign law." These acts seek to marginalize Muslims from having the equal rights and access to the courts as other religious groups.

SEE: Fla. Senate Panel Rams Through Bill Muslims, Jews Call Discriminatory
Bans on Court Use of Sharia/International Law: 33 Bills in 20 States to Start 2012

The nationwide campaign to pass state bans on the court consideration of "religious code" and "foreign law" is led by David Yerushalmi.

Yerushalmi is an infamous anti-Muslim extremist with a history of bigoted views targeting Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, and women. He is also the head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which on its now password-protected website 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."

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) named Yerushalmi a member of the "anti-Muslim inner circle."

SPLC: The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle

Links to Background Information on David Yerushalmi:

David Yerushalmi: A Driving Force Behind Anti-Sharia Efforts in the U.S.
Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP's Anti-Sharia Crusade
The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement (NY Times)
Anti-Islam Activist Yerushalmi Measures Imams' Beards
Profile of Anti-Sharia Extremist David Yerushalmi

In a March 2, 2006, article for The American Spectator, Yerushalmi wrote: "Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization ... The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies."

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. Gaffney has also promoted the false belief that President Obama is a Muslim.

Gaffney: Mosques 'Destroy Western Civilization from Within' (Video)
Frank Gaffney Claims Obama 'May Actually Still be' a Muslim

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.

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CONTACT: CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:

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