TAMPA — A Tampa judge is under fire after ruling that he will follow Islamic law in a case against a local 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 a local mosque, 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," tampabay.com
"This case will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law," the judge wrote in his March 3 ruling.
The 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.
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 Koran 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."
Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz, Florida Republicans, filed legislation to prevent Islamic law, or any foreign legal code, from being applied in state courts, tampabay.com said.
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