State Lawmaker Sends Sharia Law ‘poll' to Texas Mosques

AUSTIN -- A Central Texas lawmaker has sent letters to mosques across Texas asking Islamic leaders to answer questions about their support for Sharia law.In anticipation of Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Jan. 31, Rep. Kyle Biedermann, a Republican from Fredricksburg, and two American Islamic organizations sent a poll that asks mosque leaders to indicate their support for three documents. One is a "Declaration of Muslim Reform Movement" that repudiates "institutionalized Sharia" and declares support for secular governance, democracy and liberty. The second document is a "Muslim Pledge for Religious Freedom and Safety from Harm for Former Muslims," which renounces persecution of so-called apostates who leave Islam. And the third item Biedermann wants support for is federal legislation that designates the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.Islamic leaders who received the poll said they viewed it as fear-mongering and intimidation. But they said they would not be swayed from coming to the Capitol to talk with lawmakers as they have every legislative session since 2003."All of this foolishness they're doing, they could spend their time better getting to know us," said Mustaffaa Carroll, executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "They don't have the courage to do that."The letter, which bears the return address of Biedermann's Capitol office, tells mosque leaders to complete an enclosed poll indicating whether they support the three documents, and mail their response to him. Biedermann says the results will be shared with other Texas elected officials. Biedermann did not immediately respond for requests for comment about the letter. "According to the Pew Research Center, large percentages of Muslims in 39 countries want Sharia law, a legal code based on the Quran and other authoritative Islamic writings, to be the official law of the land," the letter states. It goes on to say that the European Court of Human Rights has "unequivocally ruled that Sharia law is absolutely incompatible with the fundamental principles of freedom and democracy."Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and Nonie Darwish, director of Former Muslims United Inc., signed the letter with Biedermann. Mohamed-Umer Esmail, an Austin imam who received the poll, said his community is getting accustomed to unfriendliness at the Capitol and other political arenas."It didn't come as a shock because of the environment since the past one-and-a-half years since the beginning of the Trump campaign," he said. Esmail said he would not respond to the survey and instead suggested that Biedermann look to past statements of Texas imams who have condemned terrorist attacks and violence committed by other Muslims."Every time an attack takes place, we condemn it," he said.Carroll said the notion that Muslims want Sharia law to govern the land is misguided. "All these people are trying to do is intimidate the Muslim community," he said.Two years ago, Rep. Molly White, a Republican from Belton, drew criticism on Muslim Capitol Day when she placed an Israeli flag on her reception desk at the Capitol and instructed her staff to ask Muslims who visited her office to renounce Islamic terrorists and pledge allegiance to the U.S."We will see how long they stay in my office," White posted on Facebook.Then, House Speaker Joe Straus, without mentioning White by name, said in a written statement that lawmakers have "a responsibility to treat all visitors just as we expect to be treated - with dignity and respect.""Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us," said Straus, R-San Antonio.Muslims in 2015 were also greeted by protesters outside the Capitol, and Esmail said he expects to see the same this year."The way I look at it is the protesters are just as welcome as we are," he said. "They should be allowed to protest as long as they let us do our thing."  Continue reading...

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