Jewish Journal


August 1, 2011

NYT: ‘Man behind the anti-shariah movement’


If I’m looking to read a mainstream news story about Islam, it’s anything written by the New York Times’ Andrea Elliott. Yesterday she didn’t disappoint with an article about David Yerushalmi, who is described as the man behind the anti-shariah movement.

Elliott wrote:

Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.

Working with a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yerushalmi has written privately financed reports, filed lawsuits against the government and drafted the model legislation that recently swept through the country — all with the effect of casting Shariah as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the cold war.

The message has caught on. Among those now echoing Mr. Yerushalmi’s views are prominent Washington figures like R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., and the Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, who this month signed a pledge to reject Islamic law, likening it to “totalitarian control.”

Yet, for all its fervor, the movement is arguably directed at a problem more imagined than real. Even its leaders concede that American Muslims are not coalescing en masse to advance Islamic law. Instead, they say, Muslims could eventually gain the kind of foothold seen in Europe, where multicultural policies have allowed for what critics contend is an overaccommodation of Islamic law.

That’s the core of the story. But definitely read the rest here.

There has been a lot of fear about shariah law taking hold in slow increments. Just look at Oklahoma’s anti-shariah law. But shariah is, generally speaking, akin to Halakhah, which, as a hasidic Jew I doubt that Yerushalmi is opposed to.

Of course, there are some ugly elements of shariah, like punishments for rape victims and stoning adulterers and homosexuals. But shariah also is a general term that refers to all Islamic religious requirements.

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