Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published an op-ed in JTA that criticizes attacks on Islam and the false conspiracy theories that claim Sharia law is infiltrating the American legal system. He called the attacks “pernicious conspiracy theories” and warned that “if the hysteria over Sharia law continues to percolate through our political and social discourse, there is bound to be unintended consequences.” NJDC has denounced using Sharia law as a straw man for political gain and emphasized that generalized attacks on Islam can sweep up Judaism and other minority faiths in their path.
Foxman wrote that the constitution prohibits the inclusion of any religious law in our government:
All of this anti-Sharia activity has come despite the complete absence of evidence of the unconstitutional application of foreign or religious law in our judicial system. It has also come with a great deal of political handwringing—and myth making—about the threat of Sharia overtaking this country. This has led, in turn, to a false perception among a growing number of Americans that Sharia is a very real threat to our way of life and constitutional freedoms.
In fact, these legislative efforts are the proverbial solution in search of a problem. The separation of church and state embodied in U.S. and state constitutions prohibits our courts from applying or considering religious law in any way that would constitute government advancement of or entanglement with religious law.
He stated flatly that “concerns about a ‘creeping Sharia law’ are the stuff of pure paranoia.”
Foxman also took issue with the anti-Sharia legislative efforts that have appeared in certain states:
[The] anti-Sharia bills are more than a matter of unnecessary public policy. These measures are, at their core, predicated on prejudice and ignorance. They constitute a form of camouflaged bigotry that enables their proponents to advance an idea that finds fault with the Muslim faith and paints all Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders.
Foxman concluded by asking Americans to strive to create a nation that refuses to allow xenophobia to be acceptable:
We stand at a crossroads in American society. We have the option of heading down a path toward a greater tolerance of anti-Muslim xenophobia and fear of the ‘stranger in our midst,’ or we can rededicate ourselves to the ideal of an America that is open and welcoming to immigrants as well as minority groups who have been here for decades. Let us hope that the better nature of America will enable us to proceed down the second path and reject those who seek to divide us for political gain, or those who wish to stereotype and scapegoat an entire people because of their religious faith.
We should never diminish the very real threat of terrorism motivated by Islamist fundamentalism coming again to our shores. But as responsible, free-thinking Americans we must be careful to distinguish between the true threats to our freedoms, and identifying their sources, and those who loudly declaim against phantom threats that don’t really exist.
Click here to read Foxman’s op-ed.