Resolution expected to pass unanimously
(PHILADELPHIA, PA., 2/1/12) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations Philadelphia office (CAIR-Philadelphia) and the Philadelphia Arab-American Community Development Corporation (PAACDC) welcome the introduction of Philadelphia City Council Resolution 120031 which urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly to reject House Bill 2029. The resolution is expected to pass unanimously tomorrow during the Philadelphia City Council session.
Currently in the PA House Judiciary Committee, the legislative intent of HB 2029 is evidenced by a memo from its sponsor, Rep. Rosemarie Swanger (R – Lebanon), who asserted that House Bill 2029 is designed to protect against the “infiltration” of foreign law into the American legal system, “especially Sharia law,” the practices and beliefs that comprise Islam, “which is inherently hostile to our constitutional liberties.” The legislation is part of anti-sharia hysteria sweeping the nation in which Sharia, the religion of Islam and by extension all Muslim citizens are depicted as threats to the constitution.
CAIR-Philadelphia and local interfaith leaders held a news conference in December expressing opposition to the bill. Since then, people of all faiths and various organizations have condemned the bill as unnecessary fear mongering. Jewish groups have expressed concern regarding the bill’s impact on halakha, or Jewish religious law.
The language from the city council resolution affirms that the “City of Philadelphia welcomes all religious beliefs, traditions and heritages, and has full confidence in the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state of Pennsylvania and does not entertain any concern that any foreign or religious law offers a threat to the law of the land.”
CAIR-Philadelphia and the PAACDC commend City Councilmembers Curtis Jones Jr. and Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez for introducing the resolution.
SEE Resolution: http://legislation.phila.gov/attachments/12588.pdf
CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Director and staff attorney, Amara S. Chaudhry, has prepared a memorandum in opposition to House Bill 2029. A hard copy of this memorandum is expected to ship to each member of the House Judiciary Committee early next week.
The memorandum specifies CAIR-Philadelphia’s constitutional concerns with House Bill 2029 and provides a brief history of the anti-Sharia movement that inspired the bill. It notes that every court that has considered the constitutionality of such legislation has ruled in favor of CAIR against the proposed legislation.
“Since the Pennsylvania city with the largest Muslim population has not been overrun by sharia law, we can be sure the rest of the state is perfectly safe from halal food carts and long clothing,” said CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Moein Khawaja. “House Bill 2029 is a farce. It is by design impossible for any foreign system to supersede the constitution. By introducing this bill, the sponsors imply that the thousands of Muslims in Pennsylvania are a threat. I am relieved to know the city of Philadelphia is one place in Pennsylvania where Muslims, and the diverse religious practices of all people, are welcome.”
The language for House Bill 2029 was drafted by anti-Islam activist David Yerushalmi. Yerushalmi is head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which on its now password-protected website offered a policy proposal that would make “adherence to Islam” punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims and urged Congress to declare war on the “Muslim Nation,” which SANE defined as “all Muslims.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
The Philadelphia Arab-American Community Development Corporation (PAACDC) was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1997. The organization’s mission is to empower the Arab-American community in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, promote its economic development, and combat racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination.
CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Director, Amara Chaudhry, 267-515-6710, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Moein Khawaja, 267-515-6710, Email: email@example.com; Executive Director of the Philadelphia Arab-American Community Development Corporation Marwan Kreidie, 215-915-2306, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.