Debate continues in Irving over bill prohibiting foreign law

The battle over foreign laws is growing by the day in Irving.

Two weeks ago, the city council passed a resolution supporting a state House bill that would prohibit foreign laws from superseding Texas and American law.

That bill is now on hold, but the debate rages on.

The council didn't vote on anything related to it on Thursday night, but as soon as one side publicized that it would be telling the council how it felt, the other side showed up to do the same.

While the bill itself does not mention a specific religion, many think it indirectly targets Islam.

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has become the most polarizing public figure in her city in the past few weeks.

She publically supports House Bill 562 and wanted Irving to go on record as following suit. So at the meeting two weeks ago, the council passed it 5 to 4.

"This is political theater, pure and simple, and the message is that not all of Irving agrees with that, and I hope they get that message loud and clear, and they have a responsibility to the citizens than try to divide and do fear-mongering," said Kim Morris, who opposes the council's decision.

Mayor Van Duyne has previously accused local Muslim leaders of creating their own laws, called sharia law, and adjudicating that doctrine bypassing the state and federal court system.

Catholic and Jewish faiths have similar tribunals presided over by faith arbitrators.

"My question to the people who are saying our tribunals do not supersede the Constitution, then if that is the case, why are you concerned?" said Don Wilson, who supports the council's decision.

The passion seems to have intensified since the March 19 vote. Supporters of House Bill 562 raised American flags and held bumper stickers Thursday night, while opponents from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian community wore green ribbons to show their solidarity.

"I would never have met some of the churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques in our Metroplex thanks to this vote," said Morris.

The Islamic Center of Irving says it has received several threats in the past month.

Leaders of the mosque did not want to give interviews Thursday night so as not to incite more anger.

"It's not real clear to me which comes first: bigotry or fear; but they both seem to end up in the same place, and that's hatred," said Evelyn Smart, who opposes the council's decision.

Morris drew disapproval with one timely comparison.

"You have been referred to as bigots, and put in the same category as Indiana," said Morris, who was met with boos from the crowd.

Even though purely symbolic, the crowd was pretty evenly split.

While the future the bill is uncertain, it appears Irving will remain divided.

"It seems redundant and yet it seems necessary to pass that law for American laws, for American courts…that should go without saying," said Crystal Main, who supports the council's decision.

House Bill 562 was heard in committee two weeks ago and has been tabled while budget talks consume the Capitol right now.

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