Frank J. Gaffney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy, castigated a Florida judge as unfit to serve for his decision to follow Islamic law instead of state or federal statutes in a case against a Tampa mosque that ultimately could decide who controls $2.2 million in state money.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen said he will decide in a lawsuit against the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, “whether the parties in the litigation properly followed the teachings of the Koran in obtaining an arbitration decision from an Islamic scholar," according to tampabay.com
"This case will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law," the judge wrote in his March 3 ruling.
Gaffney bristled at the ruling in a comment to Newsmax Tuesday, saying, “Any judge who would apply Shariah in an American courtroom — especially against the express wishes of Muslims seeking due process under laws promulgated pursuant to the U.S. Constitution — is certainly ignorant of the true, unconstitutional character of ‘Islamic ecclesiastical law.’
“Arguably, such a judge is unfit to serve on any bench in this country,” said Gaffney, adding that Nielsen’s decision augurs for the Florida Legislature and other state legislatures to enact “American Laws for American Courts” statutes.
In Florida, state Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz, both Republicans, have proposed bills to prevent Islamic law, or any foreign legal code, from being applied in state courts.
The Tampa case stems from a lawsuit filed by several male members of the mosque who say that, in 2002, they were unfairly and improperly removed as trustees, the site reported. The center later received $2.2 million from the state after some of its land was used in a road project, and who controls that money is part of the lawsuit, according to tampabay.com.
Tampabay.com quoted the mosque’s attorney saying his client has appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal challenging Nielsen’s use of religion in the case.
"The mosque believes wholeheartedly in the Quran and its teachings," attorney Paul Thanasides said. "They certainly follow Islamic law in connection with their spiritual endeavors. But with respect to secular endeavors, they believe Florida law should apply in Florida courts."
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