This article was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Southern Xenophobia

Alabama, already home to the country’s most radical anti-immigration law, may soon have another overreaching and dubious law targeting a largely invented threat from a minority group. State Sen. Cam Ward (R) introduced an amendment to the state Constitution earlier this month that would ban Islamic Sharia law in the state.

Ala. Sen. Cam Ward

As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog notes, Ward’s “American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment” is “clearly drawn from model legislation drafted by anti-Muslim lawyer David Yerushalmi” — a key figure in the Islamophobia network mapped in a recent report from by the Center for American Progress. Who is Yerushalmi? Hatewatch explains:

[Yerushalmi] equates Shariah with Islamic radicalism so totally that he advocates criminalizing virtually any personal practice that is compliant with Shariah. His “American Laws for American Courts” initiative enjoys support from Muslim-hating blogger Pam Geller, who plumbed new depths of foulness this week by expressing her “love” for the U.S. marines who were videotaped urinating on dead Taliban combatants.

Yerushalmi, who says the “War on Terror” should be a war against Islam “and all Muslim faithful,” has also proposed to outlaw Islam and deport Muslims and other “non-Western, non-Christian” people to protect the United States’ “national character.”

While the law would have nowhere near the negative impact of Alabama’s immigration law — indeed, it may have zero impact as the threat from Sharia law is entirely fictional — the proposed amendment underscores the pervasiveness of Sharia hysteria in the conservative movement. Similar versions of the law have already been passed in Tennessee, Louisiana and Arizona.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, less than half of a percent of Alabamians are Muslim.

A similar law in Oklahoma was recently struck down by a federal court, but legal experts said Alabama’s law — if enacted — may survive because it doesn’t explicitly mention “Sharia.”

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published January 19, 2012, at ThinkProgress.org. Photo of State Sen. Cam Ward from the official Alabama State Senate website.
Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Alex grew up in California and holds a B.A. in international relations from Brown University. Prior to joining ThinkProgress, Alex interned at the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and at the National Journal’s Hotline, where he covered key senate and gubernatorial races. Alex also co-founded and edited the Olive & Arrow, a blog on foreign affairs for and by young progressives. At Brown, he contributed to several publications and served on student government.