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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Feb. 29 called on South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to veto a bill (HB 1253) that the civil rights group says is “unconstitutional and anti-Muslim” and negatively impacts the religious practices of all of that state’s residents. In a letter sent to the governor on Feb. 29, CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas wrote in part: “HB 1253 is un-American to its core and violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. State Representative Roger Hunt, the sponsor of HB 1253, admits that the bill is designed to attack Sharia, the religious principles of American Muslims. Before the State House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Hunt clearly stated the purpose of this biased bill when he said, ‘I would be less than fully honest with you if I didn’t also say that part of the purpose of [HB] 1253 is to deal with what I am going to say generally has been referred to as Sharia Law.’

“HB 1253 unconstitutionally stigmatises South Dakota Muslims by declaring that their faith and practices – encapsulated by the term ‘Sharia Law’ – is somehow a danger to South Dakota. What Rep. Hunt disparages as ‘Sharia Law’ is nothing more than the religious traditions that Muslims use to guide the practice of their faith. Much like other faiths, these religious traditions inform individuals in everyday decisions involving marriage, business transactions and estate planning. Proponents of HB 1253 can point to no example of the faith of South Dakota Muslims posing a problem.”

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