School of Journalism joins Islamic law discussion

School of Journalism joins Islamic law discussion

NASHVILLE – A public discussion of the potential application of Islamic law in the United States will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22, at the First Amendment Center, 1207 18th Ave. S. in Nashville.

The forum is being held in cooperation with the MTSU School of Journalism, which is hosting a conference for journalists on “Covering Islam in the Bible Belt” at the First Amendment Center. The three-day conference, which features veteran reporters and experts in Islamic history and culture, is providing journalists with resources to help them report on issues involving Muslim communities. The McCormick Foundation is funding the conference, one of six Specialized Reporting Institutes in 2011.

There is no charge for admission, but there is limited seating. To reserve a seat, call 615-727-1333, no later than noon, Monday, Aug. 22. Limited parking is available across from the Seigenthaler Center, on the first floor only of the parking garage.

Earlier this year, at least 13 states—including Tennessee—filed legislative measures that would bar judges from considering Sharia law in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Advocates for such measures warn against any application of Islam’s religious tenets in the U.S. legal system. Opponents say such laws are not needed and that the proposals simply reflect an out-of-control “Islamaphobia” aimed at restricting the presence and religious beliefs of Muslims.

Panel members for the discussion will include Bill Warner, founder and director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam, and Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tennessee. Gene Policinski, senior vice president/executive director of the First Amendment Center, will moderate the discussion. Other panel members may be added.

The First Amendment Center, with offices at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and in Washington, D.C., is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and is associated with the Newseum and the Diversity Institute. Its affiliation with Vanderbilt University is through the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies. Its offices on the Vanderbilt campus are in the John Seigenthaler Center.