Muslims from across the state of Oklahoma will come to the state Capitol later this month to learn about the legislative process and join panel discussions on issues important to their community.
The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced its first ever "Muslim Day" will be held at the Capitol on Friday, Feb. 27. Executive Director Adam Soltani says he expects more than 100 people to attend the event.
Soltani says the event is designed to encourage members of the Muslim faith to be civically engaged and communicate with their lawmakers.
A similar event at the state Capitol in Texas last week sparked outrage after a group of vitriolic protesters heckled Muslim participants. One woman grabbed the microphone and yelled about Islam.
Although the Legislature adjourns for the week on Thursdays and members head home, six legislators and an attorney from the ACLU have agreed to meet with the Muslims who come to the Capitol that day: Sen. John Sparks, Rep. Mike Shelton, Rep. George Young, Rep. Emily Virgin, Sen. Anastasia Pittman, and Brady Henderson of the ACLU. Events that day will include a panel discussion on racial profiling, and a discussion on religion in public schools.
"Several members of our community have come to me, asking how they can get their voices heard and how they can get involved in public affairs,"Soltani said. "Muslim Day at the Capitol" is intended to encourage followers of Islam to be more involved in the public arena.
One GOP legislator in particular has been a rather vocal critic of CAIR in recent weeks. And in 2010, Oklahomans overwhelmingly endorsed State Question 755. That measure would have barred the Oklahoma judiciary, when interpreting cases for state law, from considering any court case in which the Islamic system of Sharia law figured prominently in the decision. SQ 755 also forbid Oklahoma jurists from embracing international law as a precedent when making decisions that affected Oklahomans.
U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City approved a temporary restraining order that barred certification of the election's results; subsequently that decision was upheld by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The appellate court ruled that the initiative violated the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because it singled out the Muslim faith among religious laws for discrimination.
Furthermore, the 10th Circuit Court declared, there was no "compelling state interest" for the law because it was a solution looking for a problem: proponents of the initiative failed to "identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve."
Defenders of the proposed ban acknowledged at the preliminary-injunction hearing that they did not know of a single instance in which an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in problems in Oklahoma.
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