Federal judge keeps Sharia law restriction out of Oklahoma Constitution

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange's order against the Sharia law ban is only a preliminary injunction, not a permanent one. The Oklahoma Election Board can appeal.
BY NOLAN CLAY AND CARLA HINTON Published: November 30, 2010

An Oklahoma City federal judge Monday ruled against a voter-approved restriction on Islamic law.

In a 15-page order, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange continued to keep the restriction out of the Oklahoma Constitution. Her ruling was a victory for an Oklahoma City Muslim leader who had complained his constitutional religious rights were in jeopardy.

“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out … the Court finds that the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual's constitutional rights,” the judge wrote.

At issue was a constitutional amendment that forbids state courts from considering or using international law or Sharia law. The amendment describes Sharia law as Islamic law based on the Quran and the teaching of Mohammed.

Oklahomans on Nov. 2 approved the amendment — in State Question 755 — with 70.08 percent of the vote. Muneer Awad, 27, an American-born Muslim, sued two days later. The judge on Nov. 8 blocked the state Election Board from certifying the SQ 755 results.

The order Monday continues the freeze on those results.

The order is a preliminary injunction, not a permanent one. Still, the state Election Board could appeal now.

The state attorney general's office was considering its options, a spokesman said. A key supporter of the measure, state Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, said, “I was disappointed but not surprised. We look forward to working with the AG's office on it.”

Awad is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “It is another positive step,” he said after the ruling.

“The initial filing of the lawsuit was a rough time,” Awad said, “But we've noticed since then a tremendous outpouring of support from Muslims and non-Muslims. We are confident we have supporters who want to see this amendment fail. It's not just about the Muslim community. It's about Oklahoma. The nation — the world — is watching.”

Imad Enchassi, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said, “Justice has been served.”

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