Bud Kennedy

In Irving, it’s religious freedom against Shariah-phobia

The start of a 2010 service at the Islamic Center of Irving.
The start of a 2010 service at the Islamic Center of Irving. Star-Telegram archives

Shariah-phobia is back, and Irving is tired of it.

Mayor Beth Van Duyne took to Facebook to say the Constitution is the sole law in Irving, after people who should know better stoked fearmongering over a dispute-resolution panel involving the Irving mosque.

Local online foghorn Glenn Beck said the Dallas-based Islamic Tribunal “needs to be stopped.”

Writing from Florida, lawyer Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel feared “slow, systematic jihad.”

But all this Muslim-bashing isn’t working in Irving, where the Rambler weekly defends the Islamic Center as a good neighbor.

The Rambler warned against “the greater damage these hatemongers inflict on our community.”

There’s one more important point about the dispute panel, where Imam Moujahed Bakhach of Fort Worth, two other area imams and a case manager from a Dallas law firm hear disputes for a $1,200 fee.

In America, we call this freedom.

If someone claims Shariah is taking a sinister hold in Irving, threatening the domestic tranquility of Euless or Coppell, remind them that all Texans are free to seek faith-based advice.

When Oklahoma voters tried to amend the state constitution and ban such Shariah “law,” federal courts ruled that unconstitutional. The state was even docked $300,000.

Even Van Duyne, who told Beck she’s “not supportive” of the panel, wrote on Facebook that our laws remain supreme: “Citizens need to remember that their rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and I believe no one should subjugate themselves to anything less.”

Anyone unhappy with the panel can go to court. Its website says so.

Coincidentally, the Texas Legislature is considering bills that would grant Texas Muslims and people of all faiths even more such religious freedom.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, sponsor of an anti-Shariah bill, also has proposed a constitutional amendment to have judges grant faiths “autonomy” and avoid “religious doctrinal interpretation or application.”

Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Houston chapter, said his group likes Flynn’s amendment.

“So many people misunderstand our religion, the last thing we need is the courts reinterpreting it,” Carroll said.

Those bashing the dispute panel are “just trying to make people worried,” he said.

Some Texans aren’t listening.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy