Our VoiceCulture

Anti-Sharia Bill and Yerushalmi Find Defeat in Florida

Domenic Powell • May 06, 2013

David Yerushalmi has emerged as the Kris Kobach of the Islamophobia movement, promoting anti-Sharia laws in state legislatures under the banner of “American Laws for American Courts.” His prominence as a legal activist and architect of discriminatory policy is a reality that social justice advocates will need to be proactive in countering.

David Yerushalmi

Florida should be commended for handing Yerushalmi a decisive defeat last week when it rejected a bill modeled on his ideas. Emerging this time as HB 351 in the House and a complementary SB 58 in the Senate, the bill fell one vote short in a procedural vote on Thursday in the final hours of this year’s session.

The bill seemed poised to become law after it passed the House, received favorable remarks from Governor Rick Scott, and passed an important committee hurdle in the Senate. That all changed when Emerge USA rallied Floridians against it, driving calls to legislators and launching a Twitter campaign using the hashtag, “#stophate58.”

Florida ACT! for America also urged the legislature to pass the bill. “The Sunshine State has been well on its way to joining the FIVE other states who now have ALAC laws on the books,” Lisa Piraneo of Act! said optimistically in an email blast supporting SB 58 before it was voted down. Statewide, the organization claims over 19,000 members. Florida is also home to several nationally prominent anti-Muslim activists, including Pastor Terry Jones, famous for his threats to burn piles of Qur’ans; Tom Trento, founder of the United West; and former congressman Allen West. West has called Islam a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have al­lowed to come in this country because we ride around with bumper stick­ers that say ‘co-exist.’”

Transforming this hateful activism into prejudicial policy, of course, is Yerushalmi’s job. As the author of American Laws for American Courts, Yerushalmi is able to give bigoted state legislators and organizations like Act! for America something to rally around. The sponsor of Yerushalmi’s law in the Senate, Sen. Alan Hays, called Islam a “dreadful disease” and circulated pamphlets in the Florida legislature demonizing the religion.

Though Floridians were able to slap down this bill for the third time, that won’t stop groups like Act! for America or Yerushalmi from trying again – in Florida or in other states. North Carolina just saw a version of American Laws for American Courts introduced into its state legislature, and one elected official asserted that Muslim prayer was an act of terrorism. According to Public Policy Polling, 16 percent of North Carolina voters agree.

Florida displayed what a successful fightback looks like. Everyone eager to stop hate now before it gets worse should rejoice in a victory and prepare themselves for the fight ahead.

Imagine 2050 Newsletter

  • translate

    English • Afrikaans • العربية • Беларуская • Български • Català • Česky • Cymraeg • Dansk • Deutsch • Eesti • Ελληνικά • Español • فارسی • Français • Gaeilge • Galego • हिन्दी • Hrvatski • Bahasa Indonesia • Íslenska • Italiano • עברית • Latviešu • Lietuvių • 한국어 • Magyar • Македонски • മലയാളം • Malti • Nederlands • 日本語 • Norsk (Bokmål) • Polski • Português • Română • Русский • Slovenčina • Slovenščina • Shqip • Srpski • Suomi • Svenska • Kiswahili • ไทย • Tagalog • Türkçe • Українська • Tiếng Việt • ייִדיש. • 中文 / 漢語