Here is yet another instance of Sharia wielding an influence in U.S. courts, courtesy of clueless dhimmi judges. An update on this story. “Tampa mosque quarrel drawing national attention,” by Tom Brennan for The Tampa Tribune, May 2:
TAMPA — Power struggles can erupt in any organization; from homeowners associations to the Junior League.
Typically, the dustups barely register outside the group.
But a tiff involving a Tampa nonprofit organization is sparking a national fuss.
Instead of a disagreement over Robert’s Rules of Order, this quarrel involves a mosque, $2.4 million and what role, if any, Islamic law should play in resolving the court case.
The dispute was ignited in 2002 when members of the Islamic Education Center of Tampa ousted four founding trustees of the mosque, 6450 Rockpointe Drive….
Setting aside the political hot-button issues involving Islamic law, legal experts worry the case wades into the First Amendment prohibition against government becoming entangled in religious practices.
“It is a quagmire at this point,” said Cyra Choudhury, an assistant professor at Florida International University College of Law.
“If it is a simple contract issue, it is very straightforward,” said Choudhury, who has taught on international and commercial law and law in Islamic societies. “But if the court has to determine what Islamic law is, there are some problems.”
The resentments in the mosque case simmered and came to a legal boil when Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise said it needed to acquire 3.4 acres owned by the mosque in order to widen the Veterans Expressway. The agency paid $2.45 million for the land in 2007.
A year later, the ousted trustees sued four members of the mosque whom they held responsible for their removal. Among the issues: Who would spend the state cash and how would it be used?
The mosque became a defendant in the lawsuit in 2010.
The case quietly ground its way through Hillsborough County circuit court.
That was until March, when Circuit Judge Richard A. Nielsen said the case should proceed under “ecclesiastical Islamic law” as to whether there was an enforceable arbitration agreement.
Nielsen noted that state and federal courts have ruled “that ecclesiastical law controls certain relations between members of a religious organization, whether a church, synagogue, temple or mosque.”
Experts say the use of foreign law in arbitration is not unusual: parties can opt to rely on whatever means they wish in order to mediate disagreements — be it another country’s laws or rock-paper-scissors.
“It is whatever the parties agree to,” said Jason Palmer, an assistant professor at Stetson University College of Law who has studied international law and arbitration. “As long as it doesn’t violate U.S. law or public policy.”
That would be fine if there were an arbitration agreement and everyone agreed to use Islamic law, said Paul Thanasides, an attorney for the mosque.
But the existence of an arbitration agreement is at the core of the dispute.
The ousted trustees claim arbitration was held in January 2009. They also contend the arbitrator, an Islamic scholar known as an A’lim from Texas, found in December that the mosque’s membership had improperly changed its bylaws in order to oust them.
In court pleadings, mosque officials deny any arbitration took place. They claim the purported agreement was written by one of the ousted trustees who coerced the arbitrator into signing it.
Nielsen hasn’t made a final decision, saying more testimony is needed to determine whether Islamic dispute resolution procedures were followed.
The mosque has asked a state appeals court to prohibit Nielsen from interpreting or applying any religious doctrines.
“This is a business law issue and what the ruling does is risk the court becoming entangled in ecclesiastical law,” Thanasides said. “We are in a situation where the court is saying to the mosque, ‘This is what your religion says.'”
Even if an arbitration agreement existed, he said, the proper way to enforce it would be through state or federal arbitration codes. And if the ousted trustees wanted to challenge how the mosque’s bylaws were changed, that also would be covered by Florida civil law.
“Why is it that because this is a mosque and they are believers of Islam, they don’t get the benefit of the Florida arbitration code like anyone else?” said Thanasides. “In every case involving a believer of Islam are we going to ignore state law?”…