CBSNews.com: Conservative media pushing fears about Sharia law in America

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In an October 13 article, CBSNews.com political reporter Brian Montopoli notes that the "notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been percolating in the conservative media for a while." Montopoli cites examples from Fox News' Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade, and Newt Gingrich, among others. He later reports that "fears of an outbreak of Sharia law seem overblown at best. Even if there is somehow a serious push for the imposition of Sharia law - or any other religious law - it would quickly run up against the first amendment to the Constitution."

From the CBSNews.com article:

The notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been percolating in the conservative media for a while. Fox News' Sean Hannity suggested the arrest of the Christian missionaries in Dearborn reflected the possibility that "Sharia law is taking over in Dearborn," as did Fox News' Brian Kilmeade, who interviewed one of the men who was arrested.

At the Values Voters summit in September, Newt Gingrich said - to a standing ovation - that "[w]e should have a federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States." He has also warned that jihadists are trying "to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia."

To support his argument, Gingrich cites a 2009 judgment in New Jersey that a man had not sexually assaulted his wife because his behavior was "consistent with his practices." The decision was later overturned, and stands as "the one and only instance of stealth sharia that anyone has been able to find," according to the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson.

The outcry over Sharia law has been tied in large part to the controversy around the Islamic cultural center two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as other mosques around the country. In August, Dick Morris said on Fox News that the cultural center will be used to "train and recruit Sharia law advocates who become terrorists."

[...]

All this isn't to say that there isn't the possibility that a greater Muslim presence in the United States won't have some impact on the law; Christian-backed blue laws, which limit the sale of alcohol on Sundays in order to foster religious observance, are a good example of such religious influence.

But considering that there are perhaps two million Muslims in the United States, a country with a population of more than 310 million, fears of an outbreak of Sharia law seem overblown at best. Even if there is somehow a serious push for the imposition of Sharia law - or any other religious law - it would quickly run up against the first amendment to the Constitution.

"Were not going to see hand chopping off, were not going to see retaliatory violence, we're not going to see underage marriages, were not going to see polygamous marriages," Clark Lombardi of the University of Washington Law School told NPR. "The U.S. courts simply wouldn't do it."

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