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Sharia law measure getting sent to the governor

The House approved a bill that keeps judges from considering sharia law in state court decisions.

Instances of American judges using sharia law in rulings make the measure necessary, said Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton, a Wilson Republican and the legislation’s Senate sponsor. It would protect people’s constitutional rights from being taken away by foreign laws.

“It follows legislation that has been proven in five other states that has not been challenged to date,” said Rep. Chris Whitmire of Brevard, a Republican and the bill’s House sponsor. “This protects women and minorities, it ultimately protects our U.S. and state constitutional rights.”

House Bill 522 will be sent to the governor after a 75-37 vote. It doesn't specifically mention sharia law, a legal system based on Islamic teachings. It could affect agreements based on other foreign laws, as well, if those agreements are judged as conflicting with the constitutional rights of an involved party.

N.C. House lawmaker links Islamic prayer to terrorism

A N.C. House lawmaker is equating any prayer to the Islamic God with terrorism.

In an email exchange with a constituent, Republican state Rep. Michele Presnell was asked if she was comfortable with a prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting. Presnell responded: "No, I do not condone terrorism."

The first-year lawmaker from a western North Carolina mountains district is a co-sponsor of House resolution 494, a measure asserting that North Carolina can establish a state religion. She did not return a call for comment Monday about the string of emails obtained by Dome.

Jones criticizes federal grant for Muslim education books at Craven CC

Congressman Walter Jones is voicing opposition to a federal grant that will provide books and a DVD on Muslim culture to Craven Community College.

Jones is calling on school to reject a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities called Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys, which will provide 25 books and a DVD to th campus to “introduce Muslim cultures to Americans.''

“It is appalling to me that a federal agency like NEH is wasting taxpayer money on programs like this,” Jones, a Farmville Republican, said in a statement. “It makes zero sense for the U.S. Government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture if Islamic civilizations.''

Muslim chaplain will give opening prayer for state Senate

Duke's Muslim chaplain will offer the opening prayer when the N.C. Senate convenes next week.

Abdullah Antepli was invited by state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, a Chapel Hill Democrat, and Peter Milner, the Senate chaplain. Antepli's prayer June 5 will focus on healin, redemption, compassion and unity, according to a Duke University news release.

Obama says money alone can't solve education problems

OBAMA'S EDUCATION AGENDA: President Barack Obama started the school week Monday with a call for a longer school year, and said the worst-performing teachers have "got to go" if they don't improve quickly. Bemoaning America's decreasing global educational competitiveness, Obama sought in a nationally broadcast interview to reinvigorate his education agenda. (AP)

MYRICK AND MUSLIMS: U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick on Friday pledged to help a new coalition of Muslim political thinkers present to Congress their views of moderate Islam and the need to quell extremism within their religion. (N&O)

NASTY POLITICS: The switchblades and brass knuckles came out in North Carolina politics last week. It was bound to happen, writes columnist Rob Christensen. (N&O)

Bill would define kosher, halal

Larry ShawA bill would set state standards for kosher and halal food.

Sen. Larry Shaw, a Fayetteville Democrat, said he filed the bill after hearing from Jews and Muslims who were concerned about sales of foods that meet strict religious requirements.

The state would not directly certify the food, but it would require that anything advertised as kosher or halal be approved by private religious organizations that are involved in certification.

"This is really just about truth in labeling," he said. "You cannot represent that this food is kosher or halal unless it meets the standards recognized in the industry." 

Both kosher and halal food must come from animals that were properly slaughtered in processes that were overseen by rabbis and imams. 

Shaw, the only Muslim in the state legislature, said he travels to a halal slaughterhouse in Siler City to prepare his own lamb about once a year. 

He introduced a similar bill in the legislature last year. 

Shaw to chair Muslim affairs group

Larry ShawState Sen. Larry Shaw will chair the nation's leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.

The Fayetteville Democrat was named today as the new chairman of the board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, where he has served as a member for the past three years.

A seven-term state senator, Shaw was the highest-ranking Muslim public official in the United States until 2006. 

In a statement, he said he looked forward to partnering with the Obama administration to promote "pluralistic values." 

"In carrying out our mission of promoting justice and mutual understanding, we honor and will continue to learn from groups who have faced similar challenges, including African-Americans, Asian-Americans and many others," he said.

CAIR has 35 offices and chapters in the United States and Canada. 

N&O subscribers to receive Islam DVD

Subscribers of The News & Observer will be receiving a DVD about Islam.

The newspaper will distribute copies of the documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" on Saturday to 160,000 home subscribers of The N&O and the Durham News. For technical reasons, the DVD will not be included in copies sold at newstands or in street boxes.

The documentary is described as part of a "grassroots effort to involve the public to work against the Radical Islamic threat." It has been criticized by some religious groups as biased and divisive.

The distribution was paid for by the ad agency Newspaper Services of America on behalf of the Clarion Fund, a New York-based advocacy group that funds documentaries and Web sites about Islamic fundamentalism.

The DVD has also been distributed to readers of The New York Times.

Jim McClure, vice president of display advertising for The N&O, said "there was discussion" about whether to accept the advertisement, but the "ultimate decision" was made by publisher Orage Quarles.

"Obviously, we have distributed other product samples, whether it's cereal or toothpaste," he said.

He declined to say how much the agency paid.

Update: On the packaging included with the DVD, it lists other publications across the nation that are distributing it, including The Denver Post, The Miami Herald, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal and the Detroit Free Press.

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