LANSING, MI — Michigan residents would be banned from using other countries’ laws in court under a bill proposed by Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, according to an email obtained by our media partners, MLive.
In an email sent to state lawmakers seeking co-sponsors on Monday, Hoitenga said her bill doesn’t specifically mention Sharia Law, but wrote that it would include the religious law association with Islam.
“If you have not heard by now, a doctor in Detroit is being charged with operating an underground clinic that actively engaged in genital mutilation on young girls, essentially practicing a fundamentalist version of Sharia Law,” Hoitenga wrote in the email.
The doctor she references is Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, who federal prosecutors accuse of having performed female genital mutilations at a Detroit-area clinic.
Hoitenga’s planned bill is already drawing opposition from Democrats, including Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn. Hammoud said Sharia isn’t connected with female genital mutilation, as Hoitenga’s email claimed.
“As a Muslim, I can tell you that I’m not aware of a fundamentalist version or another version that encourages female genital mutilation. That’s just not a thing,” Hammoud said.
Lawmakers opposed to Hoitenga’s proposed legislation said it could be used to ban religious practices, referencing parts of Hoitenga’s email that called for a prohibition of “the practice of foreign laws.”
In a statement to MLive, Hoitenga clarified that the legislation referred to recognition in courts, and was not specific to Sharia law.
“This legislation does not target any specific group or religion, it simply clarifies that foreign laws that are inconsistent with American laws will not be recognized in our courts,” Hoitenga said in the statement.
“It’s important to affirm our state and federal constitutions and the freedoms they provide, as they are constantly under assault. A clear message must be sent that our state will not tolerate the application of any law that would result in inhumane actions against women and children, even if such are accepted in other countries.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, ten states — Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee — prohibit the use of foreign law in their courts. Another 15 states have pending legislation on it.
Hoitenga said in her email that her proposal would secure and reinforce existing protections already provided on the federal level.
Similar legislation was introduced in 2011 by then-Rep. Dave Agema, a Republican from Grandville. It never made it into law.
Why Rep. Dave Agema wants to stop Sharia by banning ‘foreign laws’ in Michigan courts
Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, is Jewish. He said the bill has ramifications for a lot of other religions, including his own, which circumcises males in a ceremony known as the bris.
“If you’re going to define genital mutilation as a ‘foreign law’ then the opponents of male circumcision are going to use that bill to stop Jewish religious practices,” said Moss, adding that anybody who is circumcised should think twice about this bill.
He said that many ancient religions, including Judaism, had rules that conflicted with state law just by nature of being ancient religions.
Hammoud said female genital mutilation is cultural and not religious.
According to the Female Genital Mutilation National Clinical Group, a UK-based charity, the practice is a cultural one and is not confined to any one religion.
Hammoud said from his viewpoint, the bill was founded on xenophobia and Islamophobia.
“These types of laws which have popped up in other states across the country do nothing more than just perpetuate an unjustified and dangerous Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric, and it reinforces really harmful stereotypes,” Hammoud said.
This article was first written on Mlive.com.