Post Legislative Session Update: Good News

16 Sep

‘Anti-Foreign’ Legislation Failed to Pass in Texas State Legislature

Thanks to our collective efforts culminating from our Texas Muslim Capitol Day (TMCD) event “Anti-Foreign Law (i.e anti-Sharia) legislation” has failed to pass in the 83rd Legislature. One ‘Anti-Foreign’ bill SB 1639 was introduced in the Business and Commerce committee and was voted 5-4 approval of the bill. However, it did not reach the Senate floor for debate! Other ‘Anti-Foreign’ law bills (HB-750, HB-288, SB-285) all died in committee. Thanks to community members and coalition partners for testifying, calling and sending emails to your elected officials to make  your voice heard!

Sharia Ban Advances in Texas Senate

11 Apr

Re-posted from Texas Freedom Network Insider. Read full article here: http://tfninsider.org/2013/04/11/sharia-ban-advances-in-texas-senate/

By Ryan | Published April 11, 2013
 
In an impromptu meeting called at the close of the Senate’s regular business on Wednesday, the Business and Commerce Committee quietly — and narrowly — voted to pass Senate Bill 1639 by a vote of 5-4. Based on our quick review of the audio file of the meeting, the vote count was as follows:Yes: Carona (R), Taylor (R), Eltife (R),  Hancock (R), Lucio (D) No: Estes (R), Van de Putte (D), Watson (D), Whitmire (D)It’s not exactly surprising to see a measure targeting the mythical threat of Sharia law advance in Texas —it’s certainly not the first time. But given the overwhelming chorus of voices that unequivocally demonstrated that there is no problem with Sharia law in Texas courts, it is  a little disconcerting.
 

Video: CAIR-TX Representative Joins ACLU Texas in Testifying Against Anti-Islam Bill

3 Apr

View the video: http://tinyurl.com/CAIR-ACLUTestimony. ACLU/CAIR testimony begins at 2:07:14 and ends at 2:16:14

Testimony B and C Committee

Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of CAIR-Texas’s Houston chapter, testified at the Senate Business and Commerce Committee yesterday against anti-Islam bill SB 1639 “Relating to the application of foreign law and foreign forum selection in certain family law proceedings” introduced in the Texas legislature.

 Here is the full statement:

“Thank you all for having us (again) and I hope to bring some clarity to this issue because the underpinnings of it is about an Anti-Shariah ban. This is not about an anti-foreign law and I’ve asked for clarification on that on several occasions. Are we talking about Peru, are we talking about Canada or are we talking about Mexico? No, none of this is the issue. The issue is on the misunderstanding the people have about Shariah. First of all, Shariah is not a codified set of laws and if you look at any country they all practice it different. Throwing acid in women’s faces, we deplore immensely, mistreatment of women, subjugation of women, etc people in our community do deplore this and these acts are criminal as far as we’re concerned. The thought that someone would bring another law to our country saying that it’s going to subvert the American Constitution which has stood strong for the last 200 some odd years is ludicrous, that there is no threat of another law coming in to this country. There is no one coming from our community, there is no one advocating for a different law in this country, there is no insinuation. In fact, most of the people in the Muslim community, and I’m saying “Muslim” because that what I’m hearing. Most of the people in the Muslim community come here seeking the same freedom that this country provides and many of them are quite satisfied with the laws as they stand and would not go back to their own lands where they were persecuted or where they left because of political reasons or what have you. So that’s a non-issue. I myself, I’m born and raised in this country, I’ve been married for 36 years, I have 4 children and 4 grandchildren and I have a granddaughter and a wife and is not subjugated to any of this stuff. So, when we hear this, this bill was previously here in Texas, this Anti-Shariah it was implemented by Representative Berman and it went on and so now it’s come back in the form of foreign law. Shariah has nothing to do with law, it’s the underpinnings of our religion. It’s is the same as it would be the 10 Commandments, you don’t have that written into law either. But, it may serve as the underpinnings for how you do things. So we implore you not to pass this bill because, we believe in our Constitution. We believe in the State of Texas, the laws that are on the books, that protect the Constitution and it’s not Anti-American law. It is not against, nor are we trying to subvert the American Constitution so those persons who stated we are not trying to subvert the country that I love have been here all of my life is just absolutely untrue. I thank all you for having us here today.”

Here is the statement of Rebecca Robertson, Legal and Policy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

 “I’m hear today to testify in opposition to SB 1639. I want to begin by reassuring the Committee that there is no threat to our Texas legal system from foreign law. I have practiced law in this state for close to 20 years now and I can assure the Committee that most of these (cases).. are decided by wholly under domestic law. On the occasion of foreign law when it presents itself our courts already have a very effective and well-established methodology for deciding whether the local rule or the foreign rule should apply, and that methodology includes the requirements that if the foreign law conflicts with our Texas values, conflicts with our Constitution, our public policy that local law is supreme. So, it’s just not necessary to take additional steps and layer on more legislation to something that’s already working. I’ve attached to my written testimony and appendix of Texas cases fighting foreign law and I did that to give reassurance so you can  see how Texas judges are already doing a good job when they have to deal with foreign law, including in family law cases.

I also wanted to bring the Committee’s attention the recent report of the American Bar Association, which is in strong opposition to foreign law bans because the report that I cited points out the numerous constitutional concerns that these kinds of legislation raise. Under the Supremacy Clause, the Full Faith in Credit Clause, the Freedom to Contract Clause, and for our purposes at the ACLU the First Amendment. We are certainly concerned that the extent of these laws certainly impact people of a particular faith that is wholly inconsistent with our most cherished liberty, the very first one in the Bill of Rights and that it the right to worship according to our own conscience without interference from the government. Finally, I want to urge the Committee not to create uncertainty for Texas families. I know that your purview is Business and Commerce, but all of us know somebody who – a mom who travels to China to adopt an orphan child or a husband who was born and raised oversees, and then moved to Texas to build a better life for his family, or for that matter people who were born and raised here in Texas but went to Mexico or Canada to get married because that is a fun destination. We all know people like that, and there’s just no reason given that our courts are already doing a good job with foreign law to layer on something additional that will create uncertainty for these people.

I want to leave you with this thought. SB 1639 carves out exceptions for Texas corporations and for business transactions because our business community has stepped up to say, “We don’t want any part of foreign law bans.” If this is not appropriate to impose on Texas corporations, it’s not okay appropriate impose on Texas families either. Thank you.”

SEE: Details ofAnti-Islam Bills Introduced Nationwide: http://tinyurl.com/c2yu3pe

CAIR Releases CommunityToolkit to Challenge ‘Anti-Sharia’ Bills: http://tinyurl.com/cogwote

SEE: Sharia law bill unnecessary, religious leaders say http://blog.chron.com/texaspolitics/2013/04/sharia-law-bill-unnecessary-religious-leaders-say/

Action Alert: Contact Your Representative to Defend Religious Freedom

7 Mar

The Texas Chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-TX) are calling on all people of conscience in Texas to urge key state committee leaders to oppose any “anti-foreign law” legislation, also known as “anti-Islam” legislation.

 Click here to sign our letter or to add your own message.

 In the 2013 Texas state legislative session, several “anti-Sharia,” “anti-foreign laws” or “American Laws for American Courts” bills have already been introduce. These bills seek to “prohibit a court of this state from enforcing, considering, or applying a religious or cultural law.” That includes HB 750, sponsored by State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran; HJR 43, sponsored by State Rep. Dan Flynn; and, SB 285, sponsored by State Sen. John Carona.

 In the last few years, we have witnessed a trend of state-level support for such legislation. While many public discussions about these bills seek to put a benign face on it, its purpose is  to target religious practices of Muslims, similar to past misguided efforts to target Catholics, Jews and other faith minorities in the United States.

 Similar “anti-Shariah” and “anti-foreign laws” bills previously considered in Texas, included: HB 911 (Rep. Leo Berman), HB 999 (Rep. Leo Berman), HB 1240 (Rep. Bill Zedler), HB 3027 (Rep. Randy Weber), HJR 57 (Rep. Leo Berman), and HB 79 (Rep. Berman and Hilderbran). 

 The Troubling Origin of the Legislation

In the past two years, 78 anti-Islam bills or amendments have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide. Of these, 62 contained language that was extracted from Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) model legislation. Yerushalmi leads the hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which once offered a policy proposal that would make “adherence to Islam” punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims and urged Congress to declare war on the “Muslim Nation,” which SANE defined as “all Muslims.”

 The Legislation Wastes Valuable Legislative Time

No religious code can replace U.S. law. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states, “This Constitution … shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby. …” Additionally, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” America has an established tradition of allowing people of faith to make agreements and resolve disputes within the parameters of their religion, as long as any resulting contract complies with U.S. law.  Catholic canon law and Jewish Halacha are the most frequently cited examples in the context of the debate surrounding Islamic practices. No national Muslim organization has called for the implementation of foreign law in the United States.

The American Bar Association Opposes Such Legislation

In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) passed a resolution opposing ALAC-type legislation noting that it is “duplicative of safeguards that are already enshrined in federal and state law,” and saying, “initiatives that target an entire religion or stigmatize an entire religious community, such as those explicitly aimed at ‘Sharia law,’ are inconsistent with some of the core principles and ideals of American jurisprudence.” The ABA also stated the following:

 “Language in these Bills and Amendments dealing with ‘international law’ or ‘foreign and customary law’ is likely to have an unanticipated and widespread negative impact on business, adversely affecting commercial dealings and economic development in the states in which such a law is passed and in U.S. foreign commerce generally.” [Emphasis added.]“Many of the Bills and Amendments would infringe federal constitutional rights, including the free exercise of religion and the freedom of contract, or would conflict with the Supremacy Clause and other clauses of the Constitution.”

ACTION REQUESTED:

  • Contact Texas State House and Senate Committee leadership and ask for their vote against any 2013 “anti-foreign law” legislation, also known as “anti-Islam” legislation.
  • CAIR TX has provided a letter to which you can add a message of your own or simply fill in your name and address and click “send message.” To send a letter, click here.

For more information, contact: CAIR-Texas (Houston chapter), Phone; 713-838-2247, Email: info@cairhouston.org.

Clarifying “..Above the Law” Comment from 2013 Texas Muslim Capitol Day Session

6 Mar

In light of recent media scrutiny of statements made by Mustafaa Carroll, Executive Director of CAIR-TX, we are taking this opportunity to bring clarity.  The statement in question was definitely taken out of context. Those who took it out of context seem to suggest that it means Muslims should not or do not have to follow the laws of the land. Nothing is further from the truth.  Mr. Carroll simply misspoke and has never suggested nor advocated that Muslims or anyone else should not follow the laws of this Country. Mr. Carroll has never suggested nor advocated that Muslims or anyone else should not follow the laws of this Country. Thankfully, we had videographers film the entire program and event.

To clarify what Shariah is and as a prelude to his statement Mr. Carroll said “following the laws of the land is also part of Shariah” that preceded the comment that “if you are a practicing Muslim you should be above the law.”  This means that if the law says don’t drink and drive, if you are a practicing Muslim you don’t even drink.  All this means is that Muslims are law-abiding where ever they are.  Those who wrote the original article even quoted him saying that “Shariah means following the law of the land” and they expressed concerned about the statement in a previous article on their site.

This clip and documentation clearly shows that Carroll meant that American Muslims do not have a conflict or problem with fulfilling any of our civic duties and that if they truly follow our faith they should be a community that is held as an ideal citizenry because their lives are led in such a way that they are far from breaking any of our Nation’s laws.  This is evidenced in a PEW report wherein Muslims commit less than a percent of all crimes in America.  This is why Carroll followed the comment mentioning that he told a foreign judge (from Pakistan) that “American Muslims do not have religious problems with US law but it is other people who are manufacturing a hostile climate for American Muslims through the anti-Sharia legislation efforts being organized in several states across the US.”

Reflections

12 Feb

Texas Muslim Capitol Day “TMCD” Reflection by Mohammad Mouneimne

Thursday, January 31st, 2013 was Texas Muslim Capitol Day. On this day, Muslims all throughout the State of Texas drove to the State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas and conducted a variety of events to promote civic and political activism throughout the wider Muslim community. The event was initiated by CAIR Texas, and coordinated by numerous Islamic organizations throughout the State, including our very own MAS Houston.

The day began with a press conference at the south steps of the State Capitol Building, where speeches were given by all participating Islamic and non-Islamic organizations. After a group photo, everyone entered the Capitol Building to listen to key-note speakers discuss current issues and challenges the Texas Muslim community faces. One major issue discussed was the recent house and senate bill proposals involving the implementation of “anti-sharia” legislation, where the First Amendment rights and freedoms of Muslims would ultimately be hindered.

The participants then divided into groups for their individual meetings with State representatives, where participants had the unique opportunity to discuss one-on-one all of their concerns with a local representative from their own district. In a time where Muslims are increasingly side-lined in the political arena and have very little say
about laws that are passed for or against them, it was a historic event and a historic day for Muslims all across Texas. About 350 people showed up from every corner of the State. The organizers plan to continue it and expand it every year, by the will of Allah (swt), and turn it into a significant driving force for future policy-making throughout the State of Texas. If you missed your chance this year, you can still join next year! Will you be a part of making history in Texas and America?

By the mercy of Allah (swt), 23 students were sponsored by MAS Houston, who enjoyed the entire trip from start to finish. It was an exciting field trip where the students had the unique opportunity to visit the State Capitol, learn about political activism, and ask their representatives any questions they had on their minds.

Below is a written testimony from one of Houston Qur’an Academy’s very own 9th grade students, Barira Khan:

Asalamualykum! I am Barira Khan from Houston Quran Academy. Honestly, I went along with Sister Shamima’s suggestion about going to Austin for Texas Muslim Capitol Day for the fun of it. I was glad to go on a road-trip with friends and to skip a day of school. In actuality, I learned a lot. More than I wished for. I never knew we had representatives to voice our opinions, or the fact that bills were being passed concerning us without us being fully aware. It was nice knowing we too had a voice for the decisions for our country. The people there all seemed nice, and listened and answered our questions well. The press conference was pretty
interesting, and the speeches were very informative.

All in all, I think the trip was beneficial for us and also for the community. When people see Muslim youth participating in these matters, it leaves a good image for Islam in their minds despite the misleading media. Participating actively in the politics of our country also falls under one of the school wide goals of HQA, “Contributing citizens and Community builders”. 

My gratitude goes out to those who arranged this program, and to Sister Shamima and Brother Mohammad for putting up with us. May Allah keep them in the best of health and Iman. Ameen.

For the full statements, click here.

Photos

6 Feb

Special Thanks to Brothers Jamal and Walid for photography during the event.

Imam Delivers Invocation at State Capitol

1 Feb

Representative Walle introduces Imam Islam Mossaad, leader of the North Austin Muslim Community Center, who delivered the invocation before the Texas House of Representatives, January 31, 2013.

Transcript:

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
In the Name God, the Infinitely Good All Merciful

Al-Fatihah (Opening Chapter of the Holy Quran)

Creator of Adam, Rescuer of Noah, One God of Abraham, Oh Most Holy who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Oh Most Compassionate who blew into Mary mother of Jesus from Your blessed spirit and Oh Infinitely Wise who Chose Mohammed as Your Last Messenger to be a herald of Mercy to all of the nations and worlds, may your Peace and Blessings be Upon them and upon all your Messengers whether they be known or anonymous.

Praise is for you that befits the Majesty of Your Face and Vastness of Your Kingdom

We seek your Divine guidance in deciding matters for this State and the People of this State — decisions that will lead to the vindication of love over hatred, promotion of well-being over malady, expanding prosperity over poverty, and cultivation of strength over weakness.

We ask that you envelop this chamber and State with tranquility and calmness married to sincerity of purpose.  We ask that you free our hearts from prejudice, greed, and malice.

We ask you to protect our families from deterioration generation after generation.  May You inspire us and our children to be men and women of truth, and guardians of the Most Sacred Vocation.

We ask you who has set the balance to lead us to median avenues that do not tyrannize the wealthy or abandon the poor, that do not stifle growth or harm the creatures who Glorify You by day and by night.  We seek your aid in being better guests and better hosts in a land that is Yours One Nation Under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.

All Praise is for You Most High, Subtle and Aware, Knower of the Hidden and Manifest.

Dallas Transportation Updates

28 Jan

Dallas has a confirmed location for transportation pick-up:

Note: Departure time: 5 AM

The Institute of Islamic Learning in Metroplex (IILM)

  • 2101 West Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75075
  • Contact: Amina Rab, 469-774-5215, arab@cair.com

NEW Pick-Up Location:

Masjid Al Islam (Downtown)

  • 2604 S Harwood St, Dallas, Texas 75215

For Dallas community to  online registration, please visit: http://texasmuslimcapitoldaydfw.eventbrite.com/#

New Pick-Up Locations for Houston Announced

23 Jan

Four locations will be available to pick-up people on Thursday January 31st  in the Greater-Houston area to go to Austin:

NOTE: Departure time is 5:30 AM. 

Each shuttle has limited seating. For those who are registered, call the Contact person and verify your pick-up location.

  • Chase Bank Building (Medical Center) 
    • 5445 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas 77004
    • Contact: Mustafaa Carroll, 713-838-2247, info@cairhouston.org
  • Iman Academy Southwest
    • 6240 Highway 6 South, Houston TX 77083
    • Contact: Butet “Donna” Donahue, 281-498-1345 ext. 122
  • Maryam Islamic Center (Sugar Land)
    •  504 Sartartia Road, Sugar Land, TX 77479
    • Contact:  Najmus Hassan 516-770-5330
  • Iman Academy Southeast (Clearlake)
    • 825 Jetstream Court, Webster, TX 77598
  •  NEW! Masjid Elfarouq Islamic Center 
    • 1207 Conrad Sauer Dr  Houston, TX 77043
    • Contact: 713-838-2247
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