AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers are considering whether to ban state courts from considering foreign religious or cultural laws, such as the Islamic law of Sharia.
The goal "is to require a Texas court to uphold and apply only the laws ordained by the constitutions of [Texas and the United States], prohibiting any other interpretation," said Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, a former Arlington mayor pro tem. "This is now happening all over Europe ... and in Dearborn, Mich. ... and it could spread throughout the United States.
"We all know what Sharia law does to women -- women must wear burqas, women are subject to humiliation and into controlled marriages under Sharia law," he said. "We want to prevent it from ever happening in Texas."
A bill by Berman to prevent foreign laws from being recognized in Texas courts, as well as a twin proposal by Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, went before the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence last week. Both bills were left pending.
Texas is among several states -- including Alaska, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee -- considering bans on the recognition of foreign laws, according to the Institute for U.S. Law.
The bill does not specifically name Sharia, but Berman and others have cited it as a concern. They note increasing instances of other states recognizing foreign laws to, for example, give a father custody of a child or deny a restraining order for a wife, saying a husband acted under Sharia.
Sharia is a set of core principles that most Muslims recognize, as well as a series of rulings from religious scholars. It covers many areas of life, and different sects follow different versions.
Several civil-rights and interfaith groups have blasted the legislative efforts in Texas and other states as unconstitutional and unfair to Muslims.
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