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Texas took a bold step against the threat of sharia law spreading in the United States with consideration of a bill that would have prevented any foreign or international law from being used in civil actions, such as divorces and custody decisions.

The bill was introduced in the current legislative session by state Senator Donna Campbell, a medical doctor who represents a district southwest of the state capital of Austin.

Campbell’s measure would have prevented Texas courts from applying any law that “would violate a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. or Texas state constitutions, natural justice, or be prejudicial to the general interests of the citizens of Texas.”

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The state senator said she deliberately avoided the use of the word “sharia,” which refers to the Islamic legal code derived from its sacred texts, the Quran and the Hadith. Opponents called the bill “Islamophobic” and unnecessary, but substantial evidence demonstrates that state court judges are increasingly exercising discretion in recognizing rulings, agreements and decisions in divorce and custody cases.

Sharia’s often-extreme rules govern matters such as hygiene, diet, inheritance, dress, worship, marriage and divorce, and prescribe severe penalties for violations. The laws are particularly harsh with respect to women’s rights.

The clash of Sharia law and Western values has become an issue as Muslims immigrate and attempt to incorporate strict punishments into the established legal systems of their new countries.

Although most non-Muslim countries do not recognize sharia, some have allowed it to be used in family law disputes, such as divorce and inheritance.

After passing in the Senate, the bill failed to make it out of the House prior to the end of the state legislative session.

Had Campbell’s measure passed and been signed into law, Texas would have joined nine other states that have enacted similar statutes: Tennessee, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and Washington.

 

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