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Why American Indians Are Watching The Fate Of The Oklahoma Sharia Ban

Why American Indians Are Watching The Fate Of The Oklahoma Sharia Ban


by Rachel Slajda

So far, the outrage over the so-called Sharia ban Oklahoma voters approved this month has focused on the freedom of religion of the state’s Muslim residents, culminating in a lawsuit by a CAIR official that has successfully stalled the law from going into effect.

But there’s another minority the ban could affect: American Indians.

The proposed constitutional amendment, approved by voters in a 70-30 margin, would prohibit state courts from considering not only Sharia law, but international law — defined as the law of other “countries, states and tribes.”

Oklahoma has a relatively large population of American Indians, who make up about eight percent of the state population, compared to one percent of the country as a whole. Part of the reason so many Indians live in the state is forced relocation programs like the Trail of Tears, which moved tribes from land in the Deep South to what the federal government had designated Indian territory in Oklahoma.

It’s possible the amendment could affect how disputes between Indians and non-Indians are settled in state courts, as well as the many historic treaties between tribes and the U.S.

Last year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that personal injury lawsuits, filed by non-Indian casino patrons, could be tried in state court. It’s still messy, though: Several tribes have entered arbitration with the state over the rulings, and some of their motions are still pending.

And then there are the treaties between the state’s tribes and the federal government. The ban specifically defines international treaties as a “source of international law.” So how would the Indian treaties be treated?

No one really knows, yet. Tribes and tribal lawyers are waiting to see what happens, mostly voicing private concerns but no official positions.

“It wouldn’t seem like it would be legal,” Chris White, director of governmental affairs for the Osage Nation, told Indian Country Today. “I’m not an attorney, but that’s the reason why the people I’ve talked to about it are concerned. They’re concerned about the treaties.”

Barbara Warner, the executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, told the Norman Transcript she’s heard concerns that the law could be “detrimental” to the tribes.

An Oklahoma University law professor, Taiawagi Helton, who specializes in tribal law, told the Transcriptthe language is too “ambiguous” and allows ways for the “opportunistic” to avoid tribal law that would hurt their case. But he added that he believes the law will be struck down.

“The likely effect is it won’t have much effect at all,” he said.

The amendment is barred from going into effect until Nov. 29, when a federal judge will rule on CAIR’s legal challenge.

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  • George Carty

    And did you know that some legal scholars believe that the common-law systems of all the English-speaking nations have a substantial Sharia inheritance, by way of Norman Sicily?

  • Khushboo

    M, you’re absolutely right about the diversity among Muslims. We’re all different individuals with different schools of thought and to be lumped together as one big radical cult is laughable. We still argue over whether to wear hijab, how to wear hijab, whether to wear niqab, whether to segregate, etc. etc. We can’t even be on the same page, how the heck are we going to impose shariah law on non-Muslims when we can’t even agree on some of the shariah rules among ourselves.

  • M

    I wonder how exactly are the Mooooslimz gonna impose Sharia?

    For those who legs start a shakin’ at the knees, think about a few facts instead fiction.

    The US is a democracy.
    It has millions more non-Muslim voters than the tiny population of Muslim voters.
    The Muslim community is so diverse that it rarely agrees on the simplest of things e.g Sunni/Shia.

    So are they going to renounce their stake in a decent aspirational society, magically unite & are either going to multiply Gremlin’s style, or take out their hidden scimitars into the local neighbourhood & defeat the most powerful military on earth in their own nation!

    These histrionics are like something out of Hysterical Hollywood.

  • Justin
  • MOH4

    Im sure this is just an added bonus for those loony right wingers or was it planned?? You never know with that crazy mob

  • David

    This whole thing is rather stupid, but it implies that English and French law cannot be considered in Oklahoma. The supreme court, for one, has been considering English case law since the founding of the United States and many of Louisiana’s laws are based on French laws.

    I sure hope that the Okies ain’t a fixin’ to ignore federal laws based on them damned ferener reg-you-la-shuns.

  • Crow

    That surprises you?

  • Mosizzle

    Just another slap in the face to the original Americans. Islamophobes can now sleep peacefully in the knowledge that they have not just attacked Mooslims but also Native Americans. Killing two birds with one stone.

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