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Court blocks Okla. ban on Islamic law

OKLAHOMA CITY - A proposed constitutional amendment that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering international or Islamic law discriminates against religions, and a Muslim community leader has the right to challenge its constitutionality, a federal appeals court said yesterday.

The court in Denver upheld US District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange’s order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.

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Muneer Awad sued to block the law from taking effect, arguing that the Save Our State Amendment violated his First Amendment rights.

“This is an important reminder that the Constitution is the last line of defense against a rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry in our society, and we are pleased that the appeals court recognized that fact,’’ Awad said.

The amendment read, in part: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.’’

State Senator Anthony Sykes, who led the Senate effort to get the measure on the ballot, said yesterday that he would continue to fight to lift the injunction.

Backers argued that the amendment intended to ban all religious laws, that Islamic law was merely named as an example, and that it wasn’t meant as a specific attack on Muslims. The court disagreed.

“That argument conflicts with the amendment’s plain language, which mentions Sharia law in two places,’’ the appeals court opinion said.

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