A bill that would ban the use in Florida of Sharia, a code of law based on the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed, passed a Senate panel Tuesday even as hundreds of delegates to the fourth Muslim Annual Capitol Day rallied against it on the Old Capitol steps, reports the News Service of Florida. This is the second year for the measure by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, and Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, who say they just want to keep foreign law out of Florida, not target any specific group. Nor does the bill mention Sharia by name, some say to comply with the U.S. Constitution’s ban on religious discrimination. But Ahmed Bedier, the rally’s organizer, called the lawmakers out. “We’re not the people who are un-American,” he said. “They are, for violating the Constitution and introducing legislation that limits religious freedom.” But shortly thereafter, the Senate Criminal Justice Budget Subcommittee took less than five minutes to pass SB 1360, angering the dozens who wanted to speak against it. Some shouted as Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, gaveled the meeting to a close. “Sir, I will tell you this, I am willing to sit here, as I hope other members are, to listen to your testimony, but you have the opportunity to speak to all of us individually,” Bogdanoff said. “There’s plenty of time – this bill has not gotten to the floor yet.” Last week the House bill (HB 1209) cleared its last committee, and a floor vote is expected this week. The Senate version faces one more committee.
Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.