Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed “American Laws for American Courts” (ALAC) last week, a law that prohibits the use of Sharia law (or any other foreign law) by Texas judges in “family law cases.”
In a recent press release, state Rep. and ALAC author Dan Flynn (R-Canton) explained how foreign law is often used in cases concerning child support, divorce, and other family disputes.
“My colleagues and I here at the Texas Legislature want to make sure Texas judges never apply foreign law in Texas courts in violation of constitutional rights and the public policy of our state,” said Flynn.
In 2015, it was discovered that an Islamic tribunal in Dallas was upholding Sharia law over Texas law in civil disputes. The four attorneys who worked there called themselves “judges,” but argued that the tribunal’s decisions were “voluntary.”
ALAC does not mention any particular religion or nation, but the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calls it “anti-Islam” and has lobbied for the state’s Muslim population to oppose the bill. “We believe it prevents Muslims from practicing their faith in areas such as Islamic marriage, divorce, funeral procedures, and civil agreements,” said CAIR in a press release.
More than 20 anti-Sharia rallies were held on Saturday. They were all organized by ACT for America, a group that describes itself as a “grassroots national security organization” with the purpose of protecting “the Western values upon which our nation was built.”
Over 100 people attended a rally in Austin, TX, either to protest Sharia law or to protest the protestors. Those protesting Sharia law held signs branding Islam a “death cult” that “enslaves women.”
I came to Austin “to show that female mutilation, honor killings, and wife beatings are barbaric and should not be allowed in this country, which is what Sharia law would do,” said ACT member Heather Clark.
Counterprotestors, who outnumbered the protestors nearly 2 to 1, called the protestors “white supremacists.” They chanted “punch a Nazi” and “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
Counterdemonstrator Heather Frederick said she came to Austin to protest hatred towards the “most vulnerable people in our communities.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks groups like the KKK, calls ACT a “hate group.” Saturday’s demonstrations were denounced by organizations including the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and Amnesty International USA.
In a letter to state governors, these groups claimed the rallies were intended to create fear. “We are deeply concerned about the type of message that these protests send to the American public and to the good people in your city – that it is acceptable to vilify people simply because of their faith.”
Texas is the 12th state to prohibit the use of foreign laws in state courts. ALAC goes into effect on September 1st.