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Why do Republicans love Sharia law?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
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  • Dean Obeidallah says GOP loves sounding alarm about Sharia law being imposed on America
  • To hear them, he says, you'd think Sharia was coming to U.S., where about 2% are Muslim
  • He says Muslim-American legislators and groups say they don't want Sharia law
  • Obeidallah: Some in GOP have created "Sharia monster" to scare people, help their careers

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah is an award-winning Arab-American comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" special, ABC's "The View," CNN's "What the Week" and HLN's "The Joy Behar Show." He is the executive producer of the annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival and the Amman Stand Up Comedy Festival.

(CNN) -- To be fair, I'm not sure if all Republicans love Sharia law, but they certainly do love talking about it.

Republicans Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum don't agree on everything, but they all concur that we must stop Sharia law from being imposed upon America.

And Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, winner of a Tea Party convention straw poll in February, went a step further when he recently declared that he would not even nominate an American-Muslim to his Cabinet because in his words, Muslims "are trying to force Sharia law on the people of this country." (Although to be honest, Charlie Sheen has a better chance of "winning" the 2012 presidential election than Cain.)

Add to this mix Republican state legislators in more than a dozen states who have introduced legislation to ban state court judges from considering Sharia law. And in Tennessee, Republican state Sen. Bill Ketron has upped the ante by proposing a law that would make it a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison for any person who knowingly supports Sharia law.

To warrant this hysterical call to arms by these Republicans, American-Muslims must certainly be aggressively pushing for Sharia law to be imposed upon all Americans -- which would be an especially amazing feat considering only about 2% of our nation's population is Muslim.

Sharia is a system of law based on the tenets of Islam. Certain Republican politicians have claimed that American-Muslims want to replace our Constitution and system of law with Sharia. So I went to see which American-Muslims are calling for this.

I started out simply enough by asking the Muslims in my family and my Muslim friends if they wanted Sharia law to be the new law of America. After they stopped laughing, they all responded "no."

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This isn't surprising to me because I have never met an American-Muslim who has commented: "America is great, but you know what would make it even better? More laws like Afghanistan."

OK, then maybe it's the American-Muslims in elected office? In their positions of power, they could easily propose legislation calling for Sharia law.

First stop, the two American-Muslim representatives -- Keith Ellison Video and Andre Carson. Video But both their records are devoid of pushing for Sharia law.

Well, then maybe it's the American-Muslim state legislators who serve in places such as New Hampshire, Missouri, Michigan and North Carolina -- including the longest-serving Muslim state-elected official, Larry Shaw, who has been a member of the North Carolina General Assembly for 16 years. Maybe they're the ones hankering for Sharia law? But alas, I came up empty.

Oh, I know, how about Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the highest concentration of Muslims in America? If there is any place in America that wants Sharia law, it has to be there. However, Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly -- clearly a very Muslim name -- said in an interview last year: "There's no Sharia law in Dearborn, Michigan. ... It isn't even talked about in Dearborn."

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I keep striking out. Then it occurred to me, perhaps Sharia law is part of the agenda of the biggest American-Muslim organizations in the country: the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America.

So I reached out to the Islamic Society of North America's national director, Sayyid Syeed, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations' national outreach coordinator, Aseel Elborno, and asked them point-blank: Do you want to impose Sharia law across the United States? Their answer: a resounding "no." They explained they simply want to be able to practice their faith just like all other proud Americans. Nothing more.

This is now getting confusing. My Muslim friends and family members don't want Sharia law, neither do the Muslim elected officials nor the biggest American-Muslim groups -- not even the people of Dearborn. Then who is furthering this dastardly plan?!

The best evidence these Republicans cite in support of their claim is a case from New Jersey where a trial judge sided with a Muslim man who had raised Sharia law as a defense to the charge of marital rape. The state that brought us "Jersey Shore" actually brought us something worse with this court decision. However, thankfully, the New Jersey appellate court correctly overturned the trial judge's decision, alleviating any concern about Sharia law trumping American law.

If religious law -- regardless if it is Muslim, Jewish or Christian -- does not comport with the principles of U.S. law, our courts will not follow it. It's that simple. This is a well-established principle of our American legal system -- one that I would have hoped the Republican politicians would have been known. Of course, maybe I'm assuming they know more than they do, as I was reminded by Bachman's recent gaffe Video in saying the American Revolution began in New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts.

It appears that certain Republicans have created this "Sharia monster" for their own purposes. They scare us with their monster, and then they want to take credit for saving us from their own creation.

To those Republicans who continue to stoke the flames of fear and bigotry to attract media attention and benefit their own political careers, I hope you will heed the words of your fellow Republican Ronald Reagan, who famously stated: "No one group in this country is better than another. No one race or religion or sex or color is better than another. ... It's time we erased the last vestiges of intolerance, bigotry and unkindness from our hearts. Decency demands this and so does our history."

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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