President Donald Trump's rise to power seems to have fueled anti-Muslim sentiment across the country's state legislatures, with countless states introducing legislation to ban sharia law within their borders.
In 2017 there were 23 new bills introduced in 18 states attempting to prohibit the practice of Islamic religious law, or sharia, in US courts. The rash of new bills brings the total number of such legislative efforts since 2010 to 217 in 43 states, according to the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley which monitors the anti-sharia movement.
As the Guardian notes, such legislation would be redundant as the Constitution eclipses any contradictory foreign laws, and sharia isn't truly a set of laws in the first place:
Sharia itself is less a set of laws than religious guidelines, one of which requires Muslims to be law-abiding according to the rules of whichever country they find themselves.
Despite the fact that bills passed in only two states - Arkansas and Texas - merely introducing such legislation aids the far-right narrative that sees Islam as a religion to fear.
Elsadig Elsheikh, director of the global justice program at the Haas Institute that carried out the research, said the purpose of the bills was to spread fear about Muslims living in America and to portray them as untrustworthy and out of step with American values. “Even if these bills do not become law they help to subject Muslims to surveillance and other forms of exclusion and discrimination,” he said.
As a presidential candidate, Trump spoke often of banning Muslims from entering the country, under the guise of protecting Americans from terrorism, and openly criticized Barack Obama for not using the term 'Islamic terrorism'. He also surrounded himself with Islamaphobic advisers.
But all is not lost, according to those who remain optimistic in light of the majority of anti-sharia bills failing.
Many of the most virulent Islamophobes around Trump – notably [Steve] Bannon, [Mike] Flynn and [Sebastian] Gorka – have all been forced out of the White House. “There’s something heartening coming out of all this,” [Heidi Beirich, an expert on anti-Muslim hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center] said.