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Tennessee Coalition to Ask Lawmakers to Drop Anti-Islam Bill

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, March 1, a coalition of interfaith and civil rights groups will hold a noon news conference in Nashville, Tenn., to urge lawmakers to drop an anti-Islam bill drafted by the head of an anti-Muslim hate group and introduced recently in that state's legislature.

News conference participants will include faith leaders and representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Interfaith Alliance, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).

"This clearly unconstitutional and un-American legislation would make it illegal to be a Muslim in the state of Tennessee," said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who will take part in Tuesday's news conference. "Consideration of this legislation, which completely disregards equality before the law, would send the unfortunate message that Tennessee is an intolerant state."

He called the legislation a "gross violation of both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment."

Abbas said identical bills (House Bill 1353/Senate Bill 1028) introduced earlier this month in the Tennessee House and Senate would criminalize "Sharia organizations," which in the language of the proposed legislation includes two or more individuals who support any "rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ja'afariya, or Salafi."

Published March 1, 2011

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