JEFFERSON CITY- An event touted as the first "Muslim Day at the Missouri Capitol" drew more than 100 people Wednesday.
The gathering was intended to display the peaceful and patriotic side of Muslims to state legislators who have proposed measures barring Missouri courts from considering international or Islamic religious law known as Sharia.
The most contentious bill, HJR31, would amend the Missouri constitution. The amendment reads, "Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law" [in making judicial decisions].
Event organizers said they have no desire for Sharia law to trump state and federal laws, but they said the legislation reveals an unwarranted fear of Muslims. Representative Jamilha Nasheed, D-St.Louis, serves as the only Muslim legislator in Missouri. Nasheed said the proposed anti-Sharia measures violate the First Amendment by naming a specific religion's practice. She added that Sharia law doesn't have a place in American courts.
Representative Don Wells, R-Cabool, sponsored HJR31. He said Wednesday's event aimed to intimidate him. Although Sharia law isn't practiced in any Missouri court, Wells said the bill acts as an "immunization" against Sharia, should it ever attempt to enter the American legal system.
Other religious groups also have rallied at the Capitol. Christian groups, for example, have held prayer vigils and concerts. Jewish and Christian representatives attended Wednesday's event.