Bud Kennedy

For religious liberty, but against Shariah? The Lege can’t decide

Fatima Burney, 14, of Fort Worth, and Marwa Qudah, 17, of Katy, are faced with anti-Muslim protesters during the Texas Muslim Capitol Day Jan. 29 in Austin. Hundreds of Muslims from around Texas gathered for the Council on American-Islamic Relations rally and to talk to lawmakers
Fatima Burney, 14, of Fort Worth, and Marwa Qudah, 17, of Katy, are faced with anti-Muslim protesters during the Texas Muslim Capitol Day Jan. 29 in Austin. Hundreds of Muslims from around Texas gathered for the Council on American-Islamic Relations rally and to talk to lawmakers AP

“Religious freedom” is not limited to one faith.

“We like some of these bills for religious freedom,” said Mustafaa Carroll, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Houston branch.

“These bills that say courts can’t interpret religious texts or get into doctrine — we like that idea,” he said. (That’s a proposed constitutional amendment by East Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton.)

“Everybody’s always trying to tell us what the Quran says or means. We don’t want judges ruling on Islam who don’t know anything about our book.”

Carroll’s group was actually rallying for religious liberty Jan. 29 at the Texas Capitol when a protester interrupted “Texas Muslim Capitol Day.”

“America was built on Christian principles!” Christine Weick of Michigan shouted. (She left out the usual Judeo- part.)

But many of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act bills proposed nationwide also would prevent regulating the location of mosques and all houses of worship, the issuance of degrees by faith-based schools or the practices of mediation panels such as Dallas’ Islamic Tribunal.

In House Joint Resolution 125, state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, proposes a constitutional amendment to stop governments or neighborhood associations from interfering with religion “in any way” except in extreme cases.

Responding by email, he wrote that agreements based on Shariah would be protected as long as they don’t breach Texas criminal or civil law.

Yet a different bill by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, bans “foreign” laws from influencing family court, divorce or custody.

Carroll called that an “anti-freedom bill targeting Muslims.”

Leach has said as much. At a Feb. 24 rally in Austin, he cited the Islamic Tribunal mediation panel as the “problem.”

“It’s an ‘anti-’ bill,” Carroll said.

“We’re against bills that are ‘anti-’ anybody.”

CAIR also supports laws banning discrimination, he said. Yes, even if they prevent conservative Muslims from refusing business.

I told him about a small Fort Worth restaurant that opened 20 years ago. At first, the owner ignored unescorted women.

That didn’t last long.

“You might have somebody crazy like that,” Carroll said.

“But we sure don’t need a law allowing it.”

Be careful what you pray for.

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

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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