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Oklahoma Must Pay $300,000 After Passing Law Banning Sharia Law in the Courts

The State of Oklahoma must pay $300,000 in legal fees after a group of concerned citizens challenged the state over their anti-Sharia Law legislation.

The ‘Save our State Amendment,’ approved by 70 percent of the voters in 2010, attempted to ban the use of Sharia Law in Oklahoma courtrooms.

Opponents of the amendment argued that while it is really not a valid concern to think judges will consider sharia laws in lieu of constitutional and state law in their courtrooms, what the bill truly would do was endanger Muslims living in Oklahoma whose contracts and wills reference Islamic traditions, thus denying Muslim-Americans the full right to practice their faith and causing issues with probate.

Ultimately, the court of appeals agreed.

“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out … the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” the appeals court said in a 37-page written decision in January.

Now, the federal courts have ordered that the state of Oklahoma cover all the legal costs for Muneer Awad, the director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who challenged the amendment in courts.

An attorney for Awad and CAIR said the most ridiculous aspect of this whole case is not that Oklahoma will have to pay out for violating religious freedoms, but that they have to pay out because they devised a law to stop a problem that never really existed in the first place.

“It created a solution where there was no problem that existed,” Michael Salem said. “This was just politicians optimistically looking for an issue. Look what happened. Not only did the state question get struck down, but they’ll have to pay attorney fees and interest over three years.”

State Senator Anthony Sykes, though, decried the court’s decision and called it an attempt by the feds  “to silence the voice of 70 percent of Oklahoma voters.”

Sykes also called for the judicial system to wake-up and give the power back to the people. “At some point we have to decide whether this is a country of, by and for the judges, or of, by and for the people,” he said.

Photo Credit: Village Square (Illustrative)

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.