Gov. Bill Haslam was asked by a Nashville Republican group whether he was incorporating elements of Islamic law into state government.
SF Gate Such criticism emerged after the Haslam administration earlier this year hired Samar Ali to work in the Department of Economic and Community Development. Ali is a specialist in Shariah Finance who had been appointed as a White House fellow by Barack Obama.
A June blog post at the Frank Gaffney-led Center for Security Policy said that, after Ali’s appointment, “it is reasonable to expect that the financial jihadists will soon be targeting the state for infiltration and influence operations.” At the time she was appointed to the Obama White House, Ali raised some concerns nationwide due to her specialization in Shariah-Compliant Finance and her association with the World Islamic Economic Forum, an organization that has essentially designated Shariah Finance as “missionary operations” to promote Islam and Shariah.
The lure of petrodollars is powerful indeed and someone in a powerful position on the inside of the halls of power in the state can only be viewed as an opportunity for those who seek to embed Shariah law into America’s financial system.
Haslam said Ali, an attorney who grew up in Waverly and was student body president at Vanderbilt, has done nothing to deserve criticism. “Samar is someone quite frankly — and I know some people in this room disagree with me — who I think has been incredibly unfairly maligned,” Haslam said.
Before her White House fellowship, Ali worked for Hogan Lovells US LLP, where she was a founding member of the firm’s Abu Dhabi office and specialized in international business issues and Shariah compliant transactions. Shariah law forbids the giving or receiving of interest and requires deals to be based on tangible assets. Earning money from companies involved with alcohol, tobacco, gambling and pornography is also off limits.
Tennessee has also been the scene of a two-year battle over a proposed mosque in Murfreesboro. A group of neighbors sued to try to stop construction, claiming, among other things, that local Muslims were compelled by their religion to try to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and replace it with Islamic law.
It’s not the first time the Haslam administration has sought to dispel allegations that it was furthering Islamic interests, a claim posted on a billboard near the state Capitol. Haslam deputy Claude Ramsey in August wrote a letter to GOP leaders denying that the state was involved in the promotion of any religion.
“There is no effort by the Haslam administration, the State of Tennessee, or any agency or department of the State to promote or advance Shariah law or Shariah compliant finance,” Ramsey wrote in the letter.