Ketron moves ahead with anti-terrorism bill

Friday, April 22, 2011

NASHVILLE -- The Senate sponsor of an amended Tennessee proposal that seeks to prevent support for terrorist acts said Tuesday he's moving forward with the legislation despite opponents who say it's unnecessary and still unfairly targets Muslims.

The original proposal by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah.

It gave the state's attorney general authority to designate an entity a "Shariah organization" if he finds the group knowingly adheres to Shariah, which the legislation defined as "any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ja'afariya, or Salafi."

Muslims, who said the original measure was too broad, feared it would outlaw central tenets of Islam, such as praying five times a day toward Mecca, abstaining from alcohol or fasting for Ramadan.

Ketron later stripped out any reference to a specific religion and believes the proposal is constitutionally sound and should now be palatable.

"We feel it meets constitutional muster," he said. "We're moving forward on it."

While the amendment pacified some, many Muslims are still uncomfortable with the legislation.

Sabina Mohyuddin of Tullahoma testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the proposal will still "demonize Muslims and cast a wide net over Muslim organizations."

Sponsors said the legislation builds on the Terrorism Prevention and Response Act of 2002 which passed the Tennessee General Assembly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

They said that law only addressed terrorist acts after they occurred by prescribing criminal penalties for those who are convicted under the act. But they said the proposed measure helps prevent terrorist behavior by cutting off the avenues of support that often enable the violence.