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In refusing to rule out a future law that would criminalize criticism of religion as racist hate speech, the Department of Justice has left the door open to the prospect of Shariah-style law in the United States that would forbid criticism of Islam.
“Will you tell us here today simply that this Administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?” asked Franks.
Perez replied by asking for context before Franks repeated the question, adding, “That’s not a hard question.”
Perez then tried to add the context of “when you make threats against someone,” but Franks stuck to his original question and repeated it for a third time.
“Again sir, if you have a proposal that you are considering, we will actively review that proposal,” responded Perez.
“OK, here’s my proposal. I’m asking you to answer a question, that’s my proposal. I’m proposing you answer this question,” said Franks, before repeating the question for a fourth time.
Perez again refused to answer the question, asking for more context.
When a member of the subcommittee offered to “rephrase” the question for Franks, he responded, “I’m asking my own questions, I’ll certainly allow you to ask yours.”
“If the Department of Justice can’t even answer whether they will entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion, then it’s pretty late in the day,” concluded Franks.
Perez’ evasive response clearly indicates that the Department of Justice under the Obama administration would consider a law that would override the First Amendment and classify criticism of religion as racist hate speech.
The mere fact that Perez refused to rule it out is shocking.
As the New American reports, in October 2011, “Perez and other officials from the Justice Department attended a meeting at George Washington University where a an Egyptian-American lawyer suggested criminalizing speech against Islam.”
Muslim scholars argue that under the terms of the Koran, insulting the Prophet Muhammad is a sin punishable by execution.
Innumerable people around the world have been murdered for the “blasphemy” of criticizing Islam, including a Dutch filmmaker who was slain in Amsterdam after he released a documentary criticizing the treatment of women under Islam. Last year, two Pakistani ministers were killed by the Taliban for opposing a law that prescribed the death penalty for those criticizing Islam.
Concerns that a limited form of Shariah law could be implemented in the United States on the back of an increasing immigrant population have heightened in recent years.
Back in May, Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill that banned “state courts and agencies from using Islamic or other non-U.S. laws when making decisions.” Around 20 other states have considered similar legislation.
A June 2011 Center for Security Policy report found that “Shariah law has entered into state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy.”
In 2010, a law approved by Oklahoma voters that would have barred state judges from considering Shariah law in making decisions was struck down by federal courts on the basis that it was “discriminatory”.
In countries with high Muslim immigrant populations like the United Kingdom, the use of so-called Shariah councils to settle legal disputes is growing. Indeed, Shariah law has been operating parallel to the British legal system for civil cases since 1982, prompting calls for it to be banned.