Beth Van Duyne, a former mayor, former regional administrator of the Department of Housing, and current candidate for Texas Congress, fights to ensure that foreign laws, such as Shariah, do not prevail over the U.S. Constitution within the country.
Van Duyne began her crusade in 2015 as mayor (2011-2017), at a time when some Muslims were creating an Islamic court in her city, Irving, which under her leadership became one of the most prosperous and secure in the state of Texas.
At the time, she discovered that no state law protected the application of U.S. law in court against the moral and ethical issues that foreign regulations may present, so she decided to push for a resolution. However, she faced strong opposition.
“We are not about to violate anyone’s basic fundamental rights,” Van Duyne said in an interview, after stating that she met personally with members of the city mosque to inform them of the reform, but that after they gave their approval, they radically changed their minds.
“We learned that they were coming to protest Wednesday evening. Our council meeting was on Thursday,” she continued, “We’ve never heard from them before,” she said.
However, “this bill does not mention, at all, Muslim, Shariah law, Islam, even religion,” Van Duyne argued, explaining, “it specifically talks about foreign laws not taking precedence over U.S. laws and those in the state of Texas.”
Media storm and opposition from Islamic groups
Despite a media storm and the open opposition of Islamic groups, on Thursday afternoon, May 21, 2015, the Senate of the state of Texas approved the bill promoted by Van Duyne and introduced by Donna Campbell, which prevented the application of any other international law in the civil courts of Texas. Later, the House of Representatives did not ratify it.
HB 562 was intended to prohibit the use of foreign laws in Texas courts, which could led people to lose the rights granted to them by the Constitution.
At least nine states have passed similar laws: Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Washington, Alabama, and Florida.
Meanwhile, the human rights organization, the American Public Policy Alliance, reported that 10 American families had encountered conflicts “between the equal protection under the Constitution they should have received, and legal discrimination imposed on them by Shariah law – in American courts.”
“Our nation cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own,” Van Duyne insisted in her speech to the Texas National Security Forum in 2017, after asking attendees to investigate the scope of the controversial court on suspicions that it was not respecting basic rights in the community, Dallas News described.
“When you have a law or legal basis where women are not treated to the same respects or same rights as men, when you have women whose testimony is equal to half that of a man’s, how can you defend that if that is happening in our country?” warned Van Duyne who is currently preparing to run for the 24th Congressional District of Texas.
It should be noted that the Islamic court is made up of several imams—people who know the ritual of Muslim prayer—who refer to themselves as “lawyers” and “judges” without having practiced or studied law in the United States, according to the Gospel Herald.
“It is the intention of erecting this institution in order to set a precedence that will be emulated and duplicated throughout the country,” the group describes on its website, specifying that they practice Shariah law in the areas of “divorce law, family law, business law, and real estate litigation.”