A Lowcountry lawmaker is resurrecting the idea of a Shariah law ban in the state, saying it’s necessary to protect rights of women in domestic violence and family court situations.
“There should be no case in family court where an individual can use Shariah law or any other foreign law as a defense to what they’ve done,” State Rep. Chip Limehouse told South Carolina Radio Network.
The Charleston Republican said there are precedents in other states where the religious law was used to defend domestic violence against women.
“We’re under one culture here, that’s an American culture. We’re under the American flag here,” Limehouse said. “We’re under American rule of law and, to use the defense of Shariah law in family court, if you’ve abused your spouse, is not going to happen if this bill is passed.”
Limehouse said his bill will be proposed during the session, which begins in January.
The Islamic set of laws known as Shariah are similar to the Jewish 613 commandments — also called the Law of Moses — that dictate diet, hygiene, secular life and more. Scholars have argued over whether or not Shariah law encourages or exonerates domestic violence against women for disobedience or ill-conduct.
A ban on Shariah law in the state was first proposed in 2010. Legislators who have proposed Shariah law bans since include Sen. David Thomas, R-Fountain Inn, Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, and Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville. Those bills never made it out of committee.
Like previous bills that have sought to limit Shariah law’s influence in the courtroom, Limehouse’s bill says it would “prevent a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law, including but not limited to (Shariah) law, in this state from a forum outside of the United States or its territories under certain circumstances.” The bill defines foreign law as ” any law, rule, or legal code or system established and used or applied in or by another jurisdiction outside of the United States or its territories.”
If the bill passes, South Carolina would be the eighth state to effectively ban Shariah law. North Carolina banned the practice in August. Detractors of such a ban says such legislation unfairly targets American Muslims and is unnecessary since the existing law already outlaws domestic violence.