Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! For America, a grassroots organization that provided crucial support for State Question 755 in Oklahoma. This is the law that would ban Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic sharia law, or other international legal codes, in their rulings. Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) won a temporary injunction to block implementation of the law. Hearings for a permanent injunction are set to begin November 22nd.
Ms. Gabriel, a Christian raised in Lebanon, has skin in the game when it comes to resisting the encroachment of sharia law. In fact, she left some of that skin back in Lebanon, having survived a mortar attack that destroyed her home. Under her stewardship, ACT! For America has grown to include over 150,000 members nationwide. She has a radiant affection for the democratic values of Western civilization, and is determined to defend them.
Oklahoma State Question 755 is part of that defense. ACT! For America spent over $60,000 on radio ads and phone calls to reach voters in the state. Speaking of the necessity for the law, Gabriel quotes her opposite number at CAIR, co-founder Omar Ahmad, who told a Muslim audience in 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”
Gabriel sees Europe as “a preview of what could be in store for America.” There are eighty-five sharia courts up and running in England, while France has declared over 725 “no-go zones,” which the French state no longer controls. The French government calls them “zones of urban sensibility,” and they are hotbeds of both civil unrest and drug trafficking, since organized crime naturally gravitates to areas where the police fear to tread. Scholar Daniel Pipes, an expert on radical Islam, reports that unofficial zones of urban sensibility have begun appearing in England.
The Oklahoma measure was not written as a defense against hypothetical threats, based only on events overseas. Gabriel points to a New Jersey court that refused to issue a restraining order against a man accused of raping his wife, because under sharia, a wife cannot lawfully refuse demands for sex from her husband. This decision was overturned later on appeal… granting the woman her restraining order after a year of delays. She had accused her husband of beating and raping her several times per day. Meanwhile, an Islamic court is already making enforceable rulings in Texas.
The most widely-known aspect of sharia law is the injunction against insulting the Prophet Mohammed, or even displaying images of him. Gabriel points to various cases where this injunction has been enforced on America by default, after a meek lack of resistance from cultural institutions. One example is the suppression of The Jewel of Medina, a book Random House bought in a $100k deal with the author, but later refused to publish. The book includes racy scenes between Mohammed and his child bride, Aisha. Random House recoiled from what it called “credible” danger of a violent reaction. The book was eventually published by a much smaller house, Beaufort Books, and is now available through Amazon.com.
Gabriel argues that various aspects of sharia law make it fundamentally incompatible with Western legal tradition. Free speech is not the only point of contention. When CAIR petitioned for an injunction against the Oklahoma law, it cited interference with “the right to implement Islamic wills.” What they forgot to mention is that sharia law holds the value of a woman to be one-half that of a man… a principle applied to legal inheritance. Child custody cases are even more slanted against women, as dramatized in the 1991 Sally Field movie “Not Without My Daughter.” Gabriel views the struggle against sharia as an important women’s rights issue, fighting on behalf of Muslim women who seek relief from harsh Islamic law in Western courts, and Western women who marry into Muslim families without fully understanding the conflict between sharia and the West’s concept of individual rights.
Gabriel is exasperated by the way CAIR misrepresents the Oklahoma law as an act of religious bigotry. “Tolerance is a one-way street in Islam,” she observes. “They’re fighting a law that had the support of over 70% of the voters in Oklahoma.” For the record, State Question 755 also bars state courts from considering international law in general, stating they shall not “look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures.”
Although she cannot speculate on the outcome of the permanent injunction hearing later this month, Gabriel thinks “CAIR was foolish to pick this fight. Full details of the activities of sharia courts will come out in the hearings, and make them look bad.” She sees this struggle taking place at a national level, as 21 states are considering measures similar to Oklahoma’s, and expects it to “go all the way to the Supreme Court eventually.” The next chapter in this story will be fascinating. You can count on Brigitte Gabriel to pay close attention.