GOP embraces anti-Shariah

The Republican Party platform will likely include a plank this year opposing the imagined threat of Islamic law

Topics: Islamophobia, GOP, Islam, Sharia,

GOP embraces anti-ShariahPeople participate in a rally against a proposed mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero in New York. (Credit: AP/Seth Wenig)

While leaders like Speaker Boehner and Sen. John McCain were rightly praised for taking a strong stand against Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, don’t give the party of Lincoln a pass on Islamophobia just yet. In Tampa this week, GOP leaders adopted a plank to their platform supporting a ban on foreign law and aimed at Shariah, the Islamic religious law that many conservatives insist is secretly insinuating itself in the U.S. The platform still has to be approved by the entire convention in a vote next week, but generally, most things approved by the platform committee make it into the final platform.

TPM’s Ryan Reilly reports that the man behind the effort to add the amendment is none other than Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state who moonlights as an anti-immigration activist. Kobach wrote Arizona’s infamous SB-1070 “papers please” immigration law, and advised a handful of other states on their similar laws cracking down on undocumented migrants. Kobach is (or at least was during the primary) an adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and likely the man behind Romney’s “self-deportation” immigration policy.

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But Kobach is nothing if not prolific, and apparently he has now taken up the fight against Shariah. Critics charge that just as the threat of undocumented immigration is used to justify discrimination against Hispanics, the spectre of Shariah is used to justify discrimination against Muslims.

“I’m not aware of any court that’s accepted the argument, but in cases involving either spousal abuse or assault or other crimes against persons, sometimes defenses are raised that are based in Shariah law,” Kobach said, explaining the need for prohibitions on Shariah. “We actually put a provision affecting Kansas statute this year and I think it’s important for us to say foreign sources of law should not be used as part of common law decisions or statutory interpretations by judges in the lower state courts as well.”

Anti-Shariah activists like Frank Gaffney, whom Bachmann cited in her witch hunt allegations, claim Muslims want to impose Islamic law on the United States and run it like Taliban theocracy (here’s the craziest Shariah conspiracy theory we’ve seen yet). More than that, they claim it’s already happening and that Democrats and liberals are allowing or even abetting in the secret takeover of Shariah. Even if every Muslim in the U.S. were a secret jihadi, there are still only about 2.6 million of them, so it’s totally unclear how Gaffney, Kobach, et al. expect them to overcome their more than 10-to-1 numerical disadvantage to impose their will on the rest of the country barring secret powers.

Nonetheless, to many conservatives Shariah is a pressing threat to national security and American freedom that must be stopped. Conservative politicians have paid lip service to this for years (or perhaps actually believe it), and now it’s poised to becoming an official plank of the Republican Party platform.

Alex Seitz-Wald
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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