Anti-Sharia Law Bill Dies in Florida Senate

Experts Worried Measure Could Impact Jewish Divorce

By Forward Staff

Published March 11, 2012.
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A Florida bill that would have barred applying Muslim sharia law in family or divorce court matters, has reportedly died in the state Senate.

The measure, which experts warned could also impact Jewish divorce issues, was never brought up for a vote in the closing hours of the Senate’s legislative session, according to local reports.

The bill overwhelmingly passed the state house last week and seemed headed for easy passage in the Republican-controlled Senate.

But Muslim and other groups lobbied leaders to hold off on passing the bill, which barred application of “foreign” laws in divorce or family court matters.

Although the bill did not mention sharia law, proponents are part of a national movement against what they see as influence of the traditional Muslim legal code.

Because of the bill’s vague wording, some Jewish leaders also worried that the bill could prevent Jewish couples from using a religious court, or beth din, to mediate divorces.

Several Jewish groups spoke out against the bill, although Jewish lawmakers in the House were divided. The bill is dead for now, but supporters note it could be brought up again in future sesssions.


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