“Has any judge ever tried to use Sharia in Oklahoma?” a reporter asked the Republican politician, as he walked in front of the County Courthouse in Tulsa this week. “No,” said Duncan, “and we want to make sure they never will.”
Sharia is the basis of law in most Islamic countries and has been used in countries like Iran and Somalia to condone harsh punishments like amputations and stonings. Duncan is the chief architect of a ballot referendum that would prohibit state judges from considering Sharia or any international law when making rulings.
He cites the activities of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national group that advocates for Muslims in the United States. “CAIR and other groups are advocating for Sharia law in all courts, in Oklahoma courts, and the federal courts,” said Duncan.
“That’s absolutely absurd,” responded Razi Hashmi of CAIR in Oklahoma. “I don’t know anybody who wants Sharia here. Where is he getting that?”
And even if someone wanted to establish Sharia in Oklahoma, they would have a very difficult time. Currently Muslims make up less than two percent of the population. “And among those, most don’t even know what Sharia is,” said one political observer.
Hashimi says the ballot proposal which passed through the Oklahoma state house is not about Sharia at all. “It’s really all about anti-Muslim bigotry,” he said.
The Oklahoma CAIR Executive Director points out that in 2009 Duncan proposed prohibiting Muslim women from wearing head garments in driver’s license photos, and recently refused to accept a Koran from a Muslim advisory council at an official state ceremony.
Hashmi says Duncan himself is “clearly anti-Muslim” and that his referendum will only institutionalize discrimination against Muslims. “It just sends a message of hatred and intolerance and those are not American values,” he said. “This is an anti American bill that's been proposed.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Duncan. “This (ballot measure) is the picture of what is American.”