Student groups discuss legislation, prejudice
Wayne State University lecturer Saeed Khan speaks Thursday night at Wells Hall regarding a bill that bans the use of foreign laws in Michigan. Hosted by Muslim Students’ Association, Triumph of Injustice discussed the sentiment of anti-Islamic law on the state and national level.
The Muslim Students’ Association met Thursday night to discuss legislation in the Michigan House they say would severely limit the religious rights of many cultural groups across the state and address what they say is a lingering prejudice against Arab-Americans.
The bill, introduced in June by Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, would limit the application of foreign laws in courts, including Muslim “Sharia Law,” which Agema previously has said is in danger of being imposed on the American court system.
Sharia law is a code that can apply to personal conduct within the Muslim faith, often involving marriages and prayer.
Although the bill has been tabled since its introduction, the MSA has an opposition effort underway. The group currently is working with the East Lansing Islamic Center to gather petition signatures against the bill, and the group’s leaders said Tuesday they would are ready to take to the streets in protest if the bill moves forward further.
“It’s kind of like you’re being banned from certain parts of your religion,” said Kanza Khan, MSA’s political action chair. “None of them … are going against U.S. Constitution.”
Kanza Khan said the MSA plans to protest at the state Capitol if the bill moves forward.
Saeed Khan, a professor at Wayne State University, spoke to the group, saying movements, such as Agema’s bill, are the result of a “moral panic” in America, caused by times of war. He said the same kind of hysteria has been impacted other ethic groups throughout history.
“If you listen to the rhetoric that has been used over the last 10 years to make a point, it’s always at the expense of the Muslim community,” Saeed Khan said. “The cultural wars that have been raging for the last 30 years bear testimony to this uncertainty.”
Agema also has been criticized by LBGT groups on campus and across the state in recent weeks for a bill that would make it illegal for public universities, including MSU, to offer benefits for same-sex couples. The representative could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“Hopefully people will see this for what it is,” Saeed Khan said. “An act of bullying, an act of bigotry.”
English freshman Rasheed Chouikh, who is Muslim, said he hasn’t been affected by this attitude personally, although he has felt it take a toll on the community as a whole, particularly since Sept. 11.
“Me personally, I don’t feel I’ve been affected by it too much,” he said “(But) I do feel as a whole the Muslim community has been affected.”