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Dallas-area state legislators recently penned a response to a Dallas Morning News editorial alleging it contained “misguided and inaccurate” information and made “erroneous” claims about the mayor of Irving.

The DMN has a long history of reports that have criticized Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne’s concern surrounding civil rights and the legality of Islamic tribunals. Recently, the DMN published an inflammatory editorial titled “Van Duyne’s pandering to the right isn’t what Irving needs.”

Three Dallas-area state lawmakers penned an article defending Van Duyne, which the DMN has yet to print. An abbreviated version of their guest column is published here:

The recent editorial castigating Mayor Van Duyne for her support of American Law for the American Courts (“ALAC”) legislation was misguided and inaccurate.

Contrary to the DMN’s erroneous claim that decisions rendered through a Sharia tribunal are “in no way binding in an American court and can’t trump American law,” Texas state courts, such as the Fort Worth Court of Appeals in Jabri v. Qaddura, allow parties to choose Sharia law, enforce rulings of Islamic tribunals in Texas courts, and waive appeal. This effectively allows an Islamic court to operate parallel to our state courts.

This parallel Sharia court system puts women at risk of laws that treat them unequally or sanction violence. For example, despite Texas’ common law prohibition on application of laws that violate public policy, in Ashfaq v. Ashfaq, the Houston Court of Appeals upheld a discriminatory Islamic law allowing a husband to divorce his wife by saying “I divorce you” three times outside her presence.

New Jersey follows similar rules as Texas regarding application of foreign law. Yet it did not prevent a trial court in S.D. v. M.J.R. from ruling that a husband who repeatedly raped and abused his wife lacked criminal intent because Islamic Law allowed him to do so.

ALAC provides additional protection to family litigants from foreign law that violates public policy. Mayor Van Duyne should be applauded for her commitment to protect women’s rights by supporting ALAC legislation.

 

State Rep. Matt Rinaldi

State Rep. Rodney Anderson

State Rep. Kenneth Sheets

 

UPDATE: On August 31st, the Dallas Morning News finally published the above column as a letter to the editor.