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Legislating Islamophobia: The factors for the existence of anti-sharia laws in the United States

December 2020


In 2010 a number of states began introducing a law that prohibited the application of sharia in U.S. courtrooms. Sharia, translated as the ‘clear path’, is essentially the law of Islam. These laws are an outgrowth of the angst and prejudice toward Muslim Americans known as Islamophobia. This study attempts to understand these laws, their origin and the population, legislative and political/cultural factors most closely related to their introduction and existence. This is a very salient topic given the targeting of Islam by some politicians most prominently in the 2016 presidential election. Their introduction and passage in some states have alienated the small, but growing population of Muslims. It was found in this study that religious salience, traditionalism and the size of the presence of anti-Muslim groups predicted the existence of an anti-sharia law, while Democratic dominance predicted no law. These results indicate that Islam is part of the ‘culture war’ in the United States.

Public Policy & Administration (DOI: 10.1177/0952076720977610)


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