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'Anti-Sharia Law' Bill Passes House Panel; Muslims, ACLU Object

February 21, 2012 - 6:00pm

Waving aside objections from the Florida Bar and the ACLU, the House Judiciary Committee approved an "anti-Sharia law" bill on Wednesday.

"We're trying to anticipate problems we see in other states and address them proactively," said Rep. Larry Metz, R-Eustis, sponsor of House Bill 1209.

"This will preclude unjust results in cases where the outcome could be different if we didn't have the bill."

Representatives from the Florida Bar's Family Law Section and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the measure, saying Florida courts already have the ability to refuse to enforce foreign laws, including the Islamic legal code based on the Quran.

Critics also claimed that Metz's bill could complicate and raise the costs of adjudicating prenuptial and postnuptial agreements contracted in other jurisdictions.

Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, called HB 1209 a "remedy in search of a problem."

Prior to Wednesday's meeting, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent an alert to supporters warning that the bill would demonize Islam and marginalize Muslims.

CAIR alleged that HB 1209 is "ultimately aimed at making sure Sharia or other foreign laws are not applied to family law cases in Florida."

Hassan Shibly, CAIR's Florida director, told Sunshine State News that the bill "follows a court case in Hillsborough County in which Sharia was considered. The case spurred quite a bit of right-wing activism, but was eventually dismissed last December."

Still, with virtually every member of the Judiciary Committee signing on as co-sponsors, HB 1209 breezed through the panel. Schwartz cast the only dissenting vote.

"It's good law because it's preventive in nature," said Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota.

Rev. Mark Boykin, senior pastor at Church of All Nations in Boca Raton, also praised HB 1209.

Nations all over the world are looking to our democratic model of government and law, and our courts do not need any other document [on which] to base their decisions, Boykin said.

Contact Kenric Ward at or at (772) 801-5341.

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