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As a resident of this great state of Tennessee, I am writing to express my grave concerns about a bill recently introduced to the General Assembly that would effectively criminalize the personal religious practice of Tennessee's Muslim population. This legislation-which would send Muslims to prison for 15
years simply for practicing their faith-is un-American to its core. The bill will communicate to the nation and the world that Tennessee is a place that deprives religious minorities of the freedom to practice their faith. I am seeking your commitment to vote against [House Bill 1353/Senate Bill 1028] and to work
to have the bill withdrawn completely from consideration. This bill is built upon misinformation, inaccurate statements, & misapplication of the terminology 'sharia'.
What this bill ominously calls "sharia" is nothing more than the religious traditions that Muslims use to guide the practice of their faith. Much like other faiths, these religious traditions guide individuals in their daily lives, including actions such as prayer and giving to help those in need or decisions involving marriage, business transactions and estate planning. Muslims are not seeking to impose their religious
traditions on anyone else or on the government As a recent editorial from the Jackson Sun made clear, indulging these irrational fears "by introducing outrageous and offensive legislation ... only helps paint Tennessee as backward and narrow-minded."
Oklahoma approved a law similar to but less onerous than [House Bill 1353/Senate Bill 1028] in November 2010. However, the law never went into effect because a federal judge found that a law that singles out "shari a" violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Miles-Lagrange's words in that case illuminate the fundamental liberties this anti-Muslim bill would jeopardize.
"Throughout the course of our country's history. the will of the majority has on occasiol1Cd1tjlicted with the constitutional rights of individuals. an occurrence that our founders foresaw and provided for through the Bill of Rights. "
I would like to state very clearly that Muslims stand against and condemn all acts of terrorism & crimes carried out by individuals regardless of their faith, and we stand together with the law enforcement and citizens to ensure a safer state & nation. Our faith mandates us not only to protect & honor the lives ofvothers, but also to work towards a safer environment: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “Part of a branch of one's faith is to remove something injurious from a path where people could get hurt.” I urge you to remain true to the founding principles of our nation's Constitution and help to defeat this anti-Muslim bill.
Joseph S. Sneed (an American Muslim)