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Chuck Norris, Randall Terry and the Baseless Sharia Law Theory that Won't Go Away

April 29, 2011 ·

Conservative fear-mongers are trying to create a controversy around the practice of Islam in this country by elevating ridiculous warnings about "Shariah law."

My fellow Muslim-Americans (and our non-Muslim allies), rejoice! Actor Chuck Norris has decided to edify us all with a series for World Net Daily on how “Shariah is seeping into American society.”

To inaugurate his first column on April 18, this is how the former “Walker, Texas Ranger” star justified his decision to penetrate the Net with even more deluded theories—and in so doing, promoting greater ignorance--on Islam: “What concerns me in America is not only the growing disdain for Christian sentiment but also the increasing spread of Shariah law.” 

His main thesis about the spread of Shariah law to America boils down to this: “Where Muslim religion and culture has spread, Shariah law has shortly followed.” Where, you might ask with a straight face, is his evidence for such a frightening possibility, that the U.S. Constitution may soon face stiff competition from Islamic law derived from the Quran and the Sunna (Islamic customs and traditons)? For someone who wrote an entire book devoted to 101 of his “favorite facts and stories,” Mr. Norris doesn’t seem very compelled to provide us with any in his ultimately light, pseudo-exposé. But then again, it’s only Part 1, so stay tuned, readers!

In all seriousness, however, and despite his column’s analytical shortcomings, I couldn’t help but recall a similar, Islamophobic-infused diatribe that I heard on March 10 as I filmed Randall Terry outside the Congressman Peter King (R-NY) chaired House Homeland Security hearing on “the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community.” My collaborator, Zach Kreinik, and I made a short video about it, and the larger issue of Islamophobia, too.

Terry, a pro-life activist and founder of the so-called Society for Truth and Justice, used the term “Shariah law” more than once to justify his support of Congressman King’s first of several hearings, elaborating that “We need to view mosques and devout imams, at least conceptually, as outposts and ambassadors of a foreign power.” I asked him repeatedly about what Shariah law had to do with King’s objectives for singling out the American Muslim community in his hearings, without receiving a satisfactory answer. All he could do was blame the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the larger American Muslim “community” for promoting “radicalization” in the U.S. Behind the camera, and then watching the footage of my short interview with Terry later, it became clear to me that using the slogan, “Shariah law is spreading to America,” serves as one convenient pretext to promote a not so subtle Islamophobic agenda. It’s a way for Terry, Chuck Norris, certain Members of Congress and others to say, “I don’t hate Muslims, I just love our Constitution.”

But is hatred for other peoples, other faiths, really the American way? And what happens when more Americans start to believe the bogus Shariah law theory? An anti-Muslim rally held in Yorba Linda, CA on February 13 offered a chilling snapshot, with demonstrators chanting to Muslim passerbys attending a dinner to raise money for women’s shelters in the U.S., “Go back home, go back home.”  You can hear a woman on camera yell, “We’re patriotic Americans and we love our Constitution…We’re one nation under God, not Allah.”

Norris’ official website has a page devoted to all the pop culture “facts” about this beloved actor. Here’s one that jumped out at me: “Chuck Norris doesn’t lie. He rewrites history.”

When it comes to his expertise on Islam and Shariah law, I’d call that an incontrovertible fact.

Farrah Hassen is a writer and videographer based in washington DC. From 2008-2009, she was the Newman Fellow at IPS.


Farrah Hassen
Carol & Ed Newman Fellow