FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Muslim Day at the Missouri Capitol Great Success
Contact: Jim Hacking?
Chair, Muslim Rights Task Force
April 14, 2011—More than 140 diverse members of the Muslim-American community, and some allies from other faith communities, gathered in Jefferson City on Wednesday, April 13 for a historic day at the Capitol. The large group had representatives from across the state, including people of many ethnic backgrounds and more than thirty middle schoolers from the Al-Salam Day School. They spent the day introducing themselves to state legislators in an effort to build bridges which they feel have been too long overdue. They also wanted legislators to oppose three bills that they feel would unfairly target Muslim-Americans.
The three bills are HJR 31, HB 708, and SB 308. The first prohibits courts from considering any international law, and specifically singles out Sharia, the Islamic religious code. The other two mention only international law, but would have the same effect according to many legal analysts.
“With the introduction of legislation attempting to ban Sharia and other international legal systems, Muslim-Americans feel there is a misunderstanding about the nature and the goals of Islam in the United States. We want our state legislators to know that we are their neighbors and partners. The religion of Islam poses no threat to U.S. law, and we do not want it to be otherwise,” said Jim Hacking, Chair of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri’s Muslim Rights Task Force.
The group held a press conference during which they recited the Pledge of Allegiance and pointed out that Islam teaches them to abide by the law of the land where they reside. Representative Jamilah Nasheed, currently the only Muslim legislator, stressed the peaceful nature of Islam. Gail Wechsler from the Jewish Community Relations Council spoke of the need for solidarity among the faith communities and the importance of the separation of Church and State.
The event was given organizational support from the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.