Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Blog
Yesterday, the Florida Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Subcommittee pushed through SB1360, the Sunshine State’s own anti-Sharia bill in a 5-2 vote. The next step is a vote by the full Senate.
There is much to be troubled about in this legislation—including the fact that it is yet another bill modeled after David Yerushalmi’s legislation, and that it has the unqualified support of the Florida Family Association—the organization that convinced Lowe’s to pull its funding from TLC’s “All American Muslim” because the show “riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”
But perhaps the most troubling, even shocking, element of this story is that the Senate Subcommittee passed the bill following what must surely be a new deliberation record: 3 minutes. Of course, it’s easy to keep deliberations short and simple when the Subcommittee is willing to ignore the 50 individuals waiting to testify against the bill’s passage. Representatives were on hand from groups as diverse as the Anti-Defamation League and United Voices of America. But, in an interesting twist on representative democracy, their Representatives chose not to hear their opinions.
Another voice that wasn’t heard was that of Sen. Alan Hays himself—who didn’t even show up to introduce the bill he sponsored. He left that to Rep. Larry Metz, who has his own anti-Sharia bill pending in the Florida House. You would think Hays would have been on hand for the occasion, particularly since the last time he tried to get an anti-Sharia bill passed, it was left to die in Committee. But perhaps he’s trying to keep himself under wraps, following the well-deserved backlash from an October rant in which he said that “before we design a district anywhere in the state of Florida for Hispanic voters, we need to ascertain that they are citizens of the United States … I just don't think that it's right that we try to draw a district that encompasses people that really have no business voting anyhow."
So the next stop is the Florida Senate. And our next task is to make sure that every Arab American in Florida steps up and speaks out. Whether you’re Muslim or Christian, Jewish or Hindu, agnostic or undecided, this bill impacts you. Because this is another attempt to paint Arabs and Muslims as something other than Americans, individuals guided by and loyal to something other than the U.S. Constitution. Regardless of what Florida’s Criminal and Civil Justice Subcommittee thinks, we know that American citizens have the right to be heard. And AAI is counting on you to exercise that right today. Take a moment now to email your state Senator with a message: I don’t support SB1360. I do pay attention to how my representatives vote. And I’ll be at the polls on November 6.
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