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Tennessee bill echoes Texas and Oklahoma anti-Sharia bills

A recent bill filed in both houses of the Tennessee legislature mirrors similar bills that have been debated in Texas and Oklahoma in recent months. Tennessee’s SB 1028 (PDF), as it is known in the Senate, would criminalize the following of Sharia, law based on the Koran. The bill begins by declaring that:

“The threat from terrorism continues to plague the United States generally and Tennessee in particular.”

The bill would make contributing to any group or institution designated a Sharia organization a felony and would give the Tennessee attorney general the power to designate as a Sharia organization any group that he or she believes adheres to Sharia law and has the capability and intent to engage in acts of terrorism. Of course, while the bill ultimately claims to merely be aimed at terrorists, many Muslims and civil rights groups have objected to the fact that the bill associates Sharia law with jihad and acts of terrorism and that it would give to an individual the right to declare a given group to be a terrorist organization.

Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma), who introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, admitted in an interview with the Nashville Tennesseean that he has not actually reviewed the bill extensively and merely introduced it as it was given to him by Tennessee Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy group with ties to ACT! for America, a national group that calls itself “a collective voice for the democratic values of Western Civilization, and against the threat of radical Islam.”

ACT! for America also had connections to the Texas and Oklahoma bills. The group made 250,000 automated phone calls to Oklahoma voters to try and spread the word about that state’s bill, and it was one of the principal advocates of Rep. Leo Berman’s bill in Texas. Both bills were meant to amend the state constitutions; the Texas bill remains in committee, and the Oklahoma bill was actually passed as a ballot measure, but its implementation was put on hold by a federal judge.

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