Updates on PA’s anti-Muslim bill, HB2029

The scheduled public hearing on Wednesday, November 14th of Pennsylvania’s very own anti-Muslim bill, HB2029, has been canceled. Last Thursday we received notice about the scheduled hearing. The purpose of having such a hearing and the intended goal of the Representatives that sponsored this legislation is still unclear at this point. As we understand it, there are no remaining voting days scheduled for this session. Public hearings in other states that proposed similar legislation gave platform to well-known anti-Muslim bigots and hate mongers. Had the hearing continued as planned, we would have provided testimony. We were also working on building a coalition of interfaith, civil rights and religious leaders to attend the hearing and submit testimony. We will provide further updates on this legislation later this month. Any bill not signed into law by the governor on or before November 30th is scheduled to expire on that date.

ABOUT HOUSE BILL 2029

CAIR-Philadelphia’s press conference last December that brought public attention to HB2029

On its face, House Bill 2029, introduced by Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon) and titled “American and Pennsylvania Laws for Pennsylvania Courts,” is a bill which prohibits Pennsylvania courts from considering applying any “foreign law” which would limit an individual’s constitutional rights.

Unfortunately, the plain language of this bill hides a much more sinister purpose – to demonize Islam and Muslims. HB2029 is part of a larger “American Laws for American Courts” (ALAC) movement created by the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA) to guard against “the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law”

CAIR-PHILADELPHIA’s ADVOCACY
Steps taken to Challenge HB2029

CAIR-Philadelphia has taken the lead in opposing HB2029. You will recall that we sent an email detailing our advocacy in February. We have worked hard to ensure that HB2029 never becomes law in Pennsylvania.

  • In December 2011, we called public attention to HB2029 by holding a news conference in which we were joined by Jewish and Christian interfaith leaders and community activists: WATCH VIDEO OF PRESS CONFERENCE
  • We sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee chairs requesting an opportunity to be heard regarding HB 2029.
  • In January 2012, we prepared a Memorandum in Opposition to House Bill 2029: SEE MEMO (pdf)
  • In February, we worked with the Arab-American Community Development Corporation to prepare a resolution that was presented to Philadelphia City Council. It passed unanimously. SEE RESOLUTION (pdf)
  • We also sponsored an event at the Free Library of Philadelphia aimed to educate the public on Sharia and the dangers of these discriminatory bills: SEE PICTURES
  • In March, CAIR-Philadelphia partnered with CAIR-Pittsburgh in advocating for Pittsburgh City Council to pass a resolution opposing HB2029. It passed unanimously: SEE RESOLUTION (pdf)
  • In April, CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Director Amara Chaudhry wrote an article discussing HB202 that was published The Legal Intelligencer: SEE ARTICLE
  • In May, the Philadelphia Bar Association passed its “Resolution Affirming Religious Freedom” opposing House Bill 2029. The resolution was presented by CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Director Amara Chaudhry, acting in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Bar Association’s Public Interest Section: SEE RESOLUTION (pdf)