In The New York Times, Eliyahu Stern, assistant professor of Religious Studies and History at Yale, argues that current efforts to outlaw Shari‘a interfere with the ability of Muslims to govern their own communities. More importantly, perhaps, these efforts discriminate against a religious group using the same arguments often used to deny Jews full citizenship during Europe’s past. Stern writes:
The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious. In 1807, Napoleon convened an assembly of rabbinic authorities to address the question of whether Jewish law prevented Jews from being loyal citizens of the republic. (They said that it did not.)… Christianity was seen as either a universally valid basis of the state or a faith that harmoniously coexisted with the secular law of the land. Conversely, Judaism was seen as a competing legal system — making Jews at best an unassimilable minority, at worst a fifth column. It was not until the late 19th century that all Jews were granted full citizenship in Western Europe (and even then it was short lived).
Stern argues that, rather than protecting American freedom, anti-Shari‘a legislation undermines the American commitment to protecting the freedoms of minorities and to democracy itself. Read the full article here.