Tag Archives: muslim

Sunday Column: The Not-so-sexy TN Legislature

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, naturally, got a fair amount of media attention when he declared recently that Republican legislators are “preoccupied with sex” and in a restrictive mode on the subject.
“They’ve got a real thing with sex. We’re about ready to put the turbans on, I think, and put the women in burkas here if we keep going at this rate,” he said.
There have been, indeed, several pieces of sexuality-related legislation with Republican sponsors in the 107th General Assembly — a rewrite of the state’s school sex education statutes to put more emphasis on abstinence, the much-ballyhooed-by-both-sides “don’t say gay” bill, a repeal of the Nashville city ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by city contractors, etc.
But it is absolutely certain that there is no danger of turbans and burkas becoming Tennessee Republican fashion. There has been ample Republican-sponsored legislation arguably promoting Judeo-Christian religious themes generally — display of the Ten Commandments, the “Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act,” for example — and perhaps attacking Muslims, at least if you believe immigrant-rights activist assessments of last year’s “Sharia law” bill and this year’s bill to limit immigrant employment in charter schools. Just last week, there was a resolution praising Israel that includes a Biblical reference to those who praise Israel being blessed by God.

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You Can Now Wear a Turban in Nashville’s Courthouse

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office is changing its policies regarding religious head coverings at the courthouses or in jail.
Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, said in a news release Tuesday that the sheriff’s office rewrote its policies after the ACLU contended current practices violate the First Amendment and federal and state law.
Weinberg said a Muslim woman was required to remove her headscarf for a booking photo and a Muslim man was ordered to remove his head covering before entering a courthouse.
Karla Weikal, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said two booking photos can be taken, one including head coverings and one with only veils removed. The second change allows people visiting the courthouse to wear religious head coverings after a security screening.

Muslim Comics Visit Murfreesboro

“The Muslims are Coming!” comedy show, with jokes celebrating cultural differences, pleased a diverse crowd Saturday, packing most all 450 seats at MTSU’s Wright Music Building, according to the Daily News Journal.
“We try to bring people together,” show host Dean Obeidallah told the audience at the free show and noted he was raised by a proud Christian mother and Muslim father. “Everyone has the same rights and religious freedom.”
Obeidallah got several laughs when he did his own version of comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if … ” shtick.
“You might be an Arab redneck if your trailer faces Mecca,” Obeidallah said.
Obeidallah took turns doing stand up comedy with fellow Muslims Omar Elba, Negin Farsad and Maysoon Zayid.
The Muslim comics were joined by Peter Depp, a gay Jewish comedian, and a Monty Mitchell, who identified himself as being the Christian part of the show.
“I don’t have that many good jokes because I’m not that good of a Christian,” said Mitchell, who described his Southern accent as being Appalachian “with a hint of incest.”
Elba cracked jokes about coping with moving to the United States as a child from Egypt a few days before Sept. 11 and living in Texas. After terrorists attacked America, he recalled what the school sign said the next day.
“We don’t let terrorists interfere with our class schedule,” he said. “Yee-haw!”

TN Featured in New York Times Article on ‘Anti-Shariah Movement’

The New York Times quotes a Tennessee legislator in the lead to a story on the man behind the “anti-Shariah movement” nationally. Excerpts:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s latest woes include high unemployment, continuing foreclosures and a battle over collective-bargaining rights for teachers. But when a Republican representative took the Statehouse floor during a recent hearing, he warned of a new threat to his constituents’ way of life: Islamic law.
The representative, a former fighter pilot named Rick Womick, said he had been studying the Koran. He declared that Shariah, the Islamic code that guides Muslim beliefs and actions, is not just an expression of faith but a political and legal system that seeks world domination. “Folks,” Mr. Womick, 53, said with a sudden pause, “this is not what I call ‘Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you.’ ”
Similar warnings are being issued across the country as Republican presidential candidates, elected officials and activists mobilize against what they describe as the menace of Islamic law in the United States.

Note: The man behind the movement, David Yerushalmi, said in an interview back during the legislative session, that he drafted what critics called the ‘Shariah bill’ that was introduced in the Tennessee legislature and ultimately passed — after revisions that included any mention of Shariah law.
More from the Time:
In fact, it (the movement) is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam. Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.
Working with a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yerushalmi has written privately financed reports, filed lawsuits against the government and drafted the model legislation that recently swept through the country — all with the effect of casting Shariah as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the cold war.
The message has caught on. Among those now echoing Mr. Yerushalmi’s views are prominent Washington figures like R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., and the Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, who this month signed a pledge to reject Islamic law, likening it to “totalitarian control.”
Yet, for all its fervor, the movement is arguably directed at a problem more imagined than real. Even its leaders concede that American Muslims are not coalescing en masse to advance Islamic law. Instead, they say, Muslims could eventually gain the kind of foothold seen in Europe, where multicultural policies have allowed for what critics contend is an overaccommodation of Islamic law.

CAIR Wants FBI To Investigate Anti-Muslim Road Rage Incident

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, via news release, is calling for an FBI investigation into a road rage incident in Murfreesboro Tuesday evening. It’s over an incident described by WSMV-TV thusly:
Converted Muslim Lisa Sallaj, 43, of Murfreesboro said, she hasn’t slept a wink since the road rage incident.
“I’ve been sick to my stomach. I’ve been shaking, nervous, lying in bed tossing and turning,” Sallaj said.
It all started on Medical Center Parkway near Interstate 24 in Murfreesboro around 8:30 p.m.
“He had just received his driver’s license. I was in the car with him,” the mother said.
Sallaj’s 18-year-old son was in a left turn lane, but needed to go straight. When the traffic light changed to green he pulled out right in front of a black Mustang.
“The guy went ballistic,” said Sallaj. “He went nuts.”
It got much worse.
“He started yelling and cussing saying you (expletive) need to learn how to drive,” said Lisa Sallaj. “Then I look over and he has a knife out shaking at me saying, ‘I’ll kill you.'”
Sallaj told her son to pull over so she can get the tag number. She started driving, but ended up right next to the black Mustang at a traffic light where the driver revved up his engine.
She said, he then started using anti-Islamic slurs.
Sallaj said, “He started saying ‘la, la, la, la, la, la, la,’ and making like racial slurs.”
The mother said, she really got scare when the man began yelling at her son.
“He said he would put a red bullet dot in the center of his eyes,” said Sallaj.

The CAIR news release is below.

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Everyone Claiming Victory on ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill

Andrea Zelinski takes a look back at transformation of an “anti-terrorist bill” from terrifying Muslims and civil libertarians to something that had everyone proclaiming victory.
Proponents say they’re happy with the final form of the bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, while Muslim activists, civil libertarians and other critics are breathing easier with many of the most worrisome elements of the bill scrapped — including specific mention of “Sharia Law” and dramatic expansion of the government’s power to designate people as terrorist and to punish those who in any way support them.
“It’s a sigh of relief knowing that the most controversial and most dangerous portions of the bill ultimately came out,” said activist Remziya Suleyman, policy coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, which opposed the bill.
Under the bill that passed, material support of terrorists would bring the same punishment as manslaughter, sexual crimes, burglary and drug crimes — a 15- to 60-year jail sentence and up to a $50,000 fine. The crime would be a Class A felony, more serious than the current Class B designation, punishable with eight to 30 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The more serious punishment would cost an average of $369,000 per inmate.

Also, from Bobbie Partray of the Tennessee Eagle Forum, there’s this take on the end result in her end-of-the-session roundup.
First you choose the PERFECT sponsors…..Once more we want to Praise God for the multiple times that He intervened on behalf of this legislation and to express our deep appreciation to Republican Senate Caucus Bill Ketron (Murfreesboro-left) and House Speaker Pro Tem Judd Matheny (Tullahoma-right) for their courage and tireless efforts to see this important legislation through to victory. There were days when it seemed that we were in ‘hand to hand’ combat, but they never ‘blinked’. We are indeed blessed to have such men serving the State of Tennessee.

Profs Find Some Voters Have Religious Bias

News release from Vanderbilt University:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A significant number of American voters remain biased against Mormons and other religious minorities, thereby raising the hurdle for Mitt Romney and possibly other 2012 presidential candidates, according to a study by professors at Vanderbilt and Claremont Graduate universities.
“While Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 was dramatic proof that more American voters are willing to embrace diversity in presidential politics, certain religious groups still face discrimination in the political arena,” John Geer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt, said. “Romney and Jon Huntsman are among those who cannot take much comfort in our results.”
In “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Bias in 2008 Presidential Election,” Geer, Brett Benson and Jennifer Merolla examine the strong religious dimension of bias by some U.S. voters and its implications for current and future presidential politics.

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House Panel OKs ‘Shariah Bill’

(Note: Updates, expands and replaces earlier post.)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A contentious proposal that would authorize the governor and attorney general to decide whether an entity is a terrorist organization advanced in the House on Tuesday after assurances from the sponsor that the measure does not target Muslims.
The legislation (HB1353) sponsored by Republican Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma passed the House Judiciary Committee 12-4 on Tuesday and now goes to the House Finance Committee.
The companion bill was approved later in the day, 6-3, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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