You’ve probably heard about the New Jersey judge who acquitted a man accused of beating and raping his wife, excusing the man because he was a Muslim, and shariah (Islamic law) allows for this abuse.
Lest you think that this kind of lunacy is particular to judges in the left-leaning northeastern states, however, here’s news of an equally appalling case (and perhaps an even worse one, with respect to the precedent it sets) from — of all places — Allen West’s own state of Florida. From Investors Business Daily:
Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen earlier this month ordered the use of Islamic law in a Tampa lawsuit over the control of a local mosque, the Islamic Education Center of Florida. Some $2 million in state funding is at stake.
Mosque leaders tried to resolve their dispute through an Islamic scholar, but the deal broke down. And the lawsuit was refiled. Now, in a bizarre ruling, Nielsen has taken it upon himself to find out whether these Muslim parties properly followed the teachings of their holy book [sic] during arbitration.
Here is the actual, strangely deferential language from the judge’s two-page ruling:
1. This case will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law.
2. Under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law, pursuant to the Quran, Islamic brothers should try to resolve a dispute amongst themselves.
Oh, good grief. Must we really refer to Muslims as “Islamic brothers”? When was the last time an American judge referred to two parties in a lawsuit who both happened to be Christians as “Christian brothers”? Or two Hindus as “Hindu brothers”?
3. The remainder of the hearing will be to determine whether Islamic dispute resolution procedures have been followed in this matter.
And when was the last time an American judge decided whether particular Catholics were rightly abiding by Catholic canon law? Or whether a particular Mormon congregation is appropriately following The Doctrine and Covenants?
Nielsen, an appointee of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is treading on very slippery ground here. If he’s not careful, he’ll next be deferring to misogynistic Shariah law regarding probate and family law.
A wise judge would have dismissed the case, rather than trying to enforce the Islamic arbitrator’s award. He would have told the plaintiffs to go back and settle their dispute through their own customs — or file a new lawsuit based strictly on U.S. contract law.
Until then, he should have opined: “Don’t bring your religious baggage into my secular courtroom.”
Bottom line: A U.S. judge has no business deciding the religious legitimacy of Islamic arbitration. To do so, Nielsen will have to consult Shariah law, thereby legitimizing the very same barbaric Islamic code applied by the likes of the Taliban and the Saudi and Iranian religious police.
Such a local ruling may seem innocuous. But it’s the camel’s nose under the tent.
UPDATE: Turns out there’s a little more nuance to the case than I’d thought. I apologize for posting the above before I knew all the facts. From FOX News:
The two parties reportedly agreed ahead of time to use an imam and Islamic Law to resolve any potential differences through arbitration.
Legal observers say there are several cases in which agreements between two parties can supercede general laws in Florida — like when a couple makes a prenuptial agreement.
“What the judge has said is that he will apply the Islamic Law, because that is what the two parties agreed to in their arbitration clause,” Shahzad Ahmed, an attorney with NeJame Law Firm in Orlando, told the station. “This concept of agreeing to a different set of rules outside of state law is not unusual.”
UPDATE II: Nope, had it right the first time! While it’s true that the two parties had originally agreed to shariah in their arbitration clause. the whole reason the case was brought to court in the first place is that the arbitration broke down. Since the parties were then, as a last resort, bringing the case to a secular, American court, they were thereby implicitly agreeing to abide by secular, American law. Judge Nielsen is wrong to then order the two parties to resolve their differences using shariah, and make a secular, American court the decision-maker as to whether Muslim parties are following Muslim law. An American court should never rely on anything but American legal precepts. It’s especially galling that the Florida case involves the use of funds from the State of Florida, i.e., Florida taxpayers! From the St. Petersburg Times, via Stakelbeck on Terror:
The suit was filed by several men who say they were improperly ousted as trustees in 2002. The dispute may decide who controls $2.2 million the center received from the state after some of its land was used in a road project.
But attorney Paul Thanasides last week appealed Nielson’s decision with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, saying religion has no place in a secular court.
His client: the mosque.
“The mosque believes wholeheartedly in the Koran and its teachings,” Thanasides said Monday. “They certainly follow Islamic law in connection with their spiritual endeavors. But with respect to secular endeavors, they believe Florida law should apply in Florida courts.”
In other words, Judge Nielsen is more gung-ho to follow shariah than even the mosque leaders themselves!