Newt Gingrich has suggested all Muslims living in the United States should be subjected to a “test,” which would determine whether they support Sharia law. The former Speaker of the House also suggested those who do support Sharia law should be deported. The comments, which were made during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, were in response to a terrorist attack in Nice, France, which injured more than 200 and killed 84.
Sharia law, which is essentially a set of rules that apply to all aspects of Muslim’s life, is comprised of guidelines collected from the Quran, the Hadith, and the Sunnah.
Although Sharia law includes many innocuous rules which pertain to charity work, fasting, and prayer, it also contains a list of criminal offenses, many of which are based on religion-based moral standards.
In addition to disagreeing with some of the moral standards, many of which apply specifically to women, critics argue that some of the punishments are cruel and unusual.
— Noor Tagouri (@NTagouri) July 15, 2016
As there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in the United States, some judges have considered Sharia law when presiding over cases involving parties who are Muslim.
Generally, the cases, many of which are civil in nature, are referred to a Muslim arbitrator. The arbitrator then decides the case based on the traditional Islamic legal system. A majority of the cases involve business disputes, divorces, and contested wills.
As reported by USA Today, referring a case to a Muslim arbitrator is similar to an exception extended to Jewish litigants, which allows them to consult an orthodox Jewish arbitrator. However, the system (Beth Din) for the Jewish people is totally voluntarily and is not a mandatory component of Jewish religious law. The Beth Din also follows US federal guidelines for arbitration in order to work with the secular courts as opposed to replacing the secular courts.
Although some judges have considered Sharia law when deciding a case between Muslim parties, their decision cannot override the rights set forth in the United States Constitution.
Despite the fact that Sharia law is unlikely to affect anyone other than the Muslims, who are directly involved in the case, critics are concerned that the consideration of foreign law, in cases tried on American soil, will set a dangerous precedent.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) July 15, 2016
Newt Gingrich has been a vocal opponent of the use of Sharia law over the last five years. In 2010, he said, “we should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will Sharia be used.” He also suggested any Supreme Court justice who disagrees with his opinion should be dismissed.
During this week’s interview, Newt Gingrich specifically said, “we should frankly test every person here who is from a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported.” In his opinion, those who believe in or support the use of Islam’s legal system within the United States are a threat to national security.
Although he said he would be “glad to have [Muslims] as citizens… perfectly happy to have then next door,” if they pass his proposed “test,” Newt Gingrich made it clear that he does not believe Sharia law has any place within the United States.
In a follow-up Twitter post, the former Speaker of the House suggested his statements were somehow distorted by the media. However, in a later social media post, he outlined a three-step plan to identify Muslims who could pose a threat.
Newt Gingrich’s proposed steps include questioning Muslims about their affiliations and beliefs, monitoring their internet usage, and monitoring mosques. Washington Times reports he also underlined his belief that mosques are “the primary source of recruitment” for Muslim terrorist organizations.
In recent months, Newt Gingrich was believed to Donald Trump’s first choice as a running mate. However, as reported by CNN, the rumors were dispelled on Thursday when the presidential hopeful confirmed his running mate would be Indiana Governor Mike Pence.