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NPR: Fears About Shariah Law Take Hold In Tennessee

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Emperor

Isn’t this one of the most understated NPR titles ever? Many, including us have been reporting about this phenomenon for some time now.

A good article that highlights how the anti-Shariah legislation is really a “solution in search of a problem.” (h/t: Critical Dragon)

Fears About Shariah Law Take Hold In Tennessee


It’s getting tougher to be a Republican in some parts of the country while also fully accepting the practice of Islam.

In Tennessee, an incumbent in the U.S. House found herself on the defensive after being called soft on Shariah law, the code that guides Muslim beliefs and actions. And the state’s governor has been forced to explain why he hired a Muslim.

Lee Douglas, a dentist just south of Nashville and an anti-Shariah activist, points to the Muslim woman hired in Tennessee’s economic development office as evidence of an “infiltration” of Islam in government. Douglas helped draft a resolution criticizing the governor and Islam. A version of the document has been signed by a growing list of GOP executive committees, from rural counties to the state’s wealthiest.

“By stopping this now, we’re going to save ourselves a lot of difficulty in the future,” he says.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam defends his Muslim staffer’s credentials and says she grew up in a small town. “This is somebody who is very Tennessee,” says the governor.

The fact that she’s a fellow Tennessean hasn’t silenced the critics.

The number of Muslims in Tennessee remains tiny, but it is growing. Many come as refugees. Others are college professors. They’re planting roots in one of only three states where, according to a Pew Forum survey, more than half of the population is evangelical protestant.

Douglas believes Islam is diametrically opposed to his faith.

“I don’t want anybody to persecute any religion including Islam, but we have a duty as Americans to understand that they intend to take us over and compel us to become Islamic,” Douglas says.

The First Amendment may provide the freedom to practice all religions, but, according to Douglas, the “government is showing a deference and is accommodating one single religion — Islam, Shariah,” he says.

 This is somebody who is very Tennessee.
- Gov. Bill Haslam, defending his Muslim staffer

Douglas says deference should be shown to the religion of the country’s Founding Fathers. Instead, Douglas sees the Justice Department making sure a mosque in nearby Murfreesboro could open despite legal challenges.

Rebin Omer attended the first prayers in that mosque. The Kurdish refugee dismisses claims that Islam is violent.

“We haven’t seen anything like that from our upbringing or anything, so it’s kind of surprising, but the First Amendment gives you the right to worship any religion you want,” Omer says.

As one of a thousand mosques built in the U.S. over the past decade, this Islamic center ignited debate across the country and political spectrum — from pulpit pastors to wealthy Republican donors. Health care investor Andy Miller tries to isolate his concerns to the moral code laid out in Muslim holy books, where he finds discrimination toward women.

“I am not anti-Muslim at all. I don’t hate anybody. But I do have issues with Shariah law. When you look at Shariah law, it’s so antithetical to the things that we hold dear as Americans,” Miller says.

This year, Miller pumped a couple hundred-thousand dollars into superPACs supporting a candidate who shares his views. Lou Ann Zelenik made Islam a campaign issue in both of her failed but fiery bids for Congress.

While Zelenik lost to Rep. Diane Black again in this month’s Republican primary, Black felt pressure to show toughness.

“I understand the devastation that Shariah law could mean here in our country, and I’m a sponsor of a bill that will once again say that the United States Constitution is our law and that it is the supreme law,” Black said.

Besides the federal legislation, more than 20 states have considered bills banning the use of Shariah law. The proposals are a solution in search of a problem, according to many. But to the anti-Shariah crowd, they are another way to get their fears taken seriously.


  • CriticalDragon1177


    The percentage of the US population that are Muslims is less than one percent. Its even lower than you made it out to be.

  • awz1

    Some people are just silly. How can a population who comprises hardly 3% of the population force a law over the whole country! Most people just are anti-islamic. Furthermore, I doubt any of them have studied Islam at all and just use the television media as their education source.

  • Pingback: NPR: Fears About Shariah Law Take Hold In Tennessee | Spencer Watch

  • CriticalDragon1177


    Responding to Mindy, you wrote,
    What do you expect from the state that the Klan was born in?

    In all fairness that was over a hundred years ago. Also its not like Tennessee is the only state with an anti sharia panic.

  • broke

    “Muslim woman hired in Tennessee’s economic development office as evidence of an “infiltration” of Islam in government.”

    These “Republicans” in TN are further to the political right when compared to the Likud Party.

  • moose


    What do you expect from the state that the Klan was born in?

  • Ethan

    Being from Tennessee and still living here, I can tell you the state has changed a lot since the Republicans have taken over. That said, people are uneducated about Islam and take everything preached from a Pulpit as somehow more informed than they can become otherwise. People are afraid of anything that rocks the boat right now. They listen to Rush and Beck and Boortz along with the crack pot religious cases on the radio and it just amplifies their fears of the “them”. It is nothing in the water or air other than the airwaves that make us more crazy than most.

  • CriticalDragon1177


    I don’t think there’s anything in the water or the food in Tennessee that causes paranoia. It probably has a lot to do with the culture and maybe the state of schools over there.

  • CriticalDragon1177


    Its nice to know Loon Watch isn’t the only site reporting on this isn’t it?

  • mindy1

    Is there something in the water in that state that causes paranoia?? :shock:

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