Of the 23 bills introduced to state legislatures this year, only two became law – in Arkansas and Texas. Four new states joined the growing list of legislatures where anti-sharia legislation has been attempted: Colorado, Connecticut, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
All but one of the bills were introduced by Republicans. The exception was in Idaho where a committee with an unknown party affiliation was behind the move. Heidi Beirich, an expert on anti-Muslim hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center, sees the rash of state bills as signs that the provocative language coming out of Trump’s circle is having an impact. “At the state level, the number one push for anti-Muslim activists is anti-sharia bills. It’s a recurrent effort.”
“But Elsadig Elsheikh, director of the global justice program at the Haas Institute that carried out the research, said the purpose of the bills was to spread fear about Muslims living in America and to portray them as untrustworthy and out of step with American values. “Even if these bills do not become law they help to subject Muslims to surveillance and other forms of exclusion and discrimination,” he said.
Trump himself called for all Muslims to be barred from entering the US when he was a presidential candidate, a sentiment that he has only barely tempered in his drive for a travel ban on several majority-Muslim countries. Several of the individuals he chose as key advisers also have a controversial track record. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist in the White House, once wrote a film script that warned of the country turning into the “Islamic States of America”.
The short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn called Islamism a “vicious c****r” inside all Muslims that has to be “excised”, while former White House aide Sebastian Gorka was once fired by the FBI as a counter-terrorism lecturer for his Islamophobic views.”