Will Islamic law enter U.S. legal system?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A discussion of the potential application of Islamic law in the United States, and proposals to limit or prevent that possibility, will be held at 7:30 p.m. CT, Monday, Aug. 22, at the First Amendment Center, 1207 18th Ave. S., Nashville.

Earlier this year, at least 13 states — including Tennessee — had legislative measures filed that would bar judges from considering Shariah law in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Advocates for such measures warn against any application of Islam’s religious tenets in the U.S. legal system. Opponents say such laws are not needed, and that the proposals simply reflect an out-of-control “Islamophobia” aimed at restricting the presence and religious beliefs of Muslims.

Panel members for the discussion will include:

  • Bill Warner, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam
  • Umbreen Bhatti, lawyer and co-founder of Islawmix, an information project that aims to better inform Americans about the fundamentals of Islamic law and their interplay with news coverage about Islam
  • Saleh Sbenaty, professor of computer engineering technology at Middle Tennessee State University and faculty adviser for the Muslim Student Association and Saudi Students Association

Gene Policinski, senior vice president/executive director of the First Amendment Center, will moderate the discussion.

There is no charge for admission, but there is limited seating. To reserve a seat, call 615-727-1333, no later than noon, Monday, Aug. 22. Limited parking is available across from the Seigenthaler Center, on the first floor only of the parking garage.

The forum is being held in cooperation with the School of Journalism at Middle Tennessee State University, which is hosting a conference for journalists on “Covering Islam in the Bible Belt” at the First Amendment Center. The three-day conference, which features veteran reporters and experts in Islamic history and culture, is intended to provide journalists with resources to help them report on issues involving Muslim communities. The McCormick Foundation is funding the conference, one of six Specialized Reporting Institutes in 2011.

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For more information, please contact Brian Buchanan at 615/727-1600; or bbuchanan@fac.org.


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