Lawmakers in South Carolina have introduced a bill that would “prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law in this state.” This effectively makes South Carolina the latest state to consider legislation that would ban sharia law, though one of the bill’s sponsors insists its more than that.
“This bill has been called anti-sharia law, and I suppose it does deal with that,” State Sen. Michael Fair (R-Greenville), who introduced the bill in the Senate, told TPM in an interview. “There are some localities around the country that have imposed sharia law in lieu of local laws.”
Fair was driving when he spoke with TPM, and said he didn’t have all the details at hand, but he said sharia law has come into play in child custody battles, which he called “egregious.” He also cited a case in Arizona, where an Iraqi man is accused of murdering his daughter for being too “Westernized” (the man is facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident). Fair maintains that his bill — which Rep. Wendy K. Nanney (R-Greenville) drafted and introduced in the House — doesn’t target Muslims in particular.
“We’re big on religious freedom, but we also understand that civil law and criminal law in this country and in the state of South Carolina… is not religious law,” Fair said, later adding: “If we were to ID this as anti-sharia law and statute, then we’re being guilty of one of the things we’re trying not to do.”
Fair said the bill was needed because people are moving to South Carolina from countries where religion and law “are practically synonymous.”
“Some of them are coming from countries — it’s a brand new experience for them, that we believe women are equal to men, and that color of skin doesn’t weigh into a person getting consideration from anything,” he said.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com