Yesterday House Bill 522, which prohibits the application of “foreign laws” in North Carolina, became law. Although that may sound harmless on its face, the bill is actually motivated by anti-Muslim animus and a manufactured fear that Sharia law is being implemented in the U.S. Although this bill does not mention Sharia law specifically, its real purpose, like similar legislation pushed in the past, is to combat the groundless fear that Sharia law is being applied in North Carolina Courts.

A law prohibiting the application of “foreign laws” is completely needless because the Courts are already empowered to refuse to enforce foreign law judgments when they violate North Carolina and U.S. laws. Not only is it needless, but it is also discriminatory against those with minority beliefs and can cause many problems for those trying to deal with common legal matters such as alimony, divorce, or adoption.

A similar anti-Sharia bill was discussed in the North Carolina legislature in July, but it was amended to also include anti-abortion provisions. Governor McCrory announced he would veto that bill unless changes were made. Unfortunately, when that bill failed to pass the legislature and a comparable anti-Sharia bill was introduced (without the healthcare restrictions, which passed in a different bill), Governor McCrory allowed it to become law without signature.

Americans United would, of course, oppose the imposition of Sharia law in the United States.  But, Sharia law is not a threat in the U.S., making HB 522 unnecessary and unacceptable. Not only are anti-Sharia laws increasing in popularity among the states, but some states are considering excluding Muslim schools from private school voucher programs because legislators are uncomfortable supporting a religion different than their own. If voucher-proponents could put themselves in the shoes of somebody with a minority religion, perhaps they would understand that no taxpayer should provide funds for any religious school, even if it is a Judeo-Christian school.

Supporting bills prompted by anti-Muslim rhetoric further promotes anti-Muslim sentiment. Governor McCrory of North Carolina should not have allowed a bill to become law that is designed to disparage an entire religious community, especially when the legislation is based in unfounded fear and misinformation. As the states begin their legislative sessions again, sign up for AU’s email list to take action against anti-Muslim legislation.