THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — A Muslim rights group has urged Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to veto legislation designed to block use of Islamic law in the state should it reach his desk.
A House bill to bar use of "foreign laws that would impair constitutional rights" was on Tuesday's House agenda. Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, sponsored the bill, which doesn't specifically mention the Islamic legal code called Shariah.
However, the bill's supporters have said they are concerned about the use of Shariah spreading.
It wasn't immediately clear whether a vote would be taken before the lame duck session ends. Lawmakers have said they would like to wrap up by Thursday, and they focused Tuesday on giving final approval to divisive right-to-work bills that bar unions from collecting mandatory fees from workers they represent under collective bargaining agreements.
The Associated Press left a message Tuesday for Agema, seeking an update on the bill's status.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement criticizing what it called an "anti-Islam bill" and urging its rejection.
The group said it "is calling on all people of conscience to urge Gov. Snyder to veto the biased bill which is among those that seek to impose government-sanctioned discrimination on followers of a minority faith. "
Dawud Walid, executive director of the group's Michigan chapter, said he would much rather see the Legislature reject the proposal. At least 20 states have considered similar measures, and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed one into law in May.
"It's our hope that this bill doesn't make it all the way to the governor," Walid said. "But if it does, we sincerely hope that he will veto this bigoted bill."
Messages seeking comment were left with the governor's office Tuesday.
Walid said that aside from undermining the rights and wellbeing of Muslims, the bill creates an atmosphere unfriendly to international investment and the immigration of people who can promote Michigan's economic development.
Supporters have cited 50 appellate cases in 23 states that involve conflicts between Shariah law and U.S. state laws, including foreign judgments on divorces and child custody that were allowed to stand. The cases they cite do not include any in Michigan.
Several other groups also have expressed concern, including the Michigan Catholic Conference and Arab social and civil rights organizations in the Detroit area, which has one of the largest and oldest continuous populations of Arabs and Muslims in the country.
In May, the Catholic Conference said it strongly opposes the bill because it would likely affect the application of Catholic canon law, the judicial structure governing the church.