The frontrunner in Alabama's Senate GOP primary claims there are communities in America living under Sharia law

In a bizarre exchange, the frontrunner in Alabama’s GOP Senate primary told Vox reporter Jeff Stein that “there are communities under Sharia law right now in our country.”

“Up in Illinois. Christian communities; I don’t know if they may be Muslim communities,” former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore told Vox on Tuesday.

When pressed for further details, Moore explained that, from his understanding, communities in Illinois and Indiana are currently living under Sharia law. Here’s the exchange:

Jeff Stein: Some right-wing conservatives think Sharia law is a danger to America — do you?

Roy Moore: There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Up in Illinois. Christian communities; I don’t know if they may be Muslim communities. But Sharia law is a little different from American law. It is founded on religious concepts.

Jeff Stein: Which American communities are under Sharia law? When did they fall under Sharia law?

Roy Moore: Well, there’s Sharia law, as I understand it, in Illinois, Indiana — up there. I don’t know.

Jeff Stein: That seems like an amazing claim for a Senate candidate to make.

Roy Moore: Well, let me just put it this way — if they are, they are; if they’re not, they’re not. That doesn’t matter. Oklahoma tried passing a law restricting Sharia law, and it failed. Do you know about that?

Jeff Stein: No, I don’t.

While it remains unclear what Moore meant by his statements on Sharia law, he may be referring to an Indiana lawmaker’s proposed Senate bill that would prevent judges from using foreign law as a legal standard, a move largely criticised as being motivated by Islamophobia.

Moore could also be referring to a debunked claim that Illinois had begun to allow religious headwear to be worn in driver’s licence photos following pressure from Muslim extremist groups. State guidelines did not change, but state officials issued flyers to remind DMV employees of religious exemptions to driver’s licence photo guidelines after complaints from a Sikh advocacy group.

Moore called Islam a “false religion” in July in response to an Alabama resident’s concern over the possibility of Sharia law.

The twice-ousted former Alabama Supreme Court justice is the favoured candidate to win Tuesday’s GOP primary in Alabama for the Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. President Donald Trump has endorsed Moore’s opponent, Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to Sessions’ seat after Sessions became attorney general.

Republicans in the deeply conservative state of Alabama have long held Moore in high esteem for his defence of evangelical values, which cost him his job on two occasions for going against federal courts orders — once for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building and later for ordering probate judges to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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