Irvine, Texas, Mayor Beth Van Duyne

Irving, Texas, Mayor Beth Van Duyne

When a group of imams tried to bring a form of “Shariah light” to Texas, they met an unlikely foe – Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

Now, Van Duyne has been thrust into the national media spotlight, and her city is being called “ground zero” in the battle to prevent Islamic law from gaining a foothold, no matter how small, in the U.S. legal system.

Van Duyne’s name and picture has popped up on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds across America in recent days, casting her with equal enthusiasm as villain or hero, depending on one’s political outlook.

She’s either the mayor who stood up to the Muslim Brotherhood or the “Islamophobic bigot” looking to cash in politically on fears about Islamic terrorism.

The media frenzy was touched off by reports that an Islamic tribunal was being set up in the Dallas, Texas, area. A group of imams from surrounding mosques would sit on what they call a “mediation panel,” as defacto judges, and mediate disputes between Muslims who voluntarily submit to its edicts. They denied this was a Shariah court, saying the panel would mete out nonbinding decisions in business disputes, divorces and other family matters “in full accordance with the law.”

Van Duyne wrote a blistering Facebook post last month in which she vowed to “fight with every fiber of my being against this action.”

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She worked with state legislators to craft a bill that would declare it illegal for any U.S. court to adopt any foreign legal system for the basis of its rulings. Islam was not mentioned in the bill, nor was any religion.

Last Thursday the Irving City Council voted 5-4 to endorse the bill before a packed room full of mostly angry Muslims.

When called on by the Council of American-Islamic Relations to apologize for her February Facebook post, Van Duyne flatly refused. She also appeared in the national spotlight in an interview with conservative media icon Glenn Beck.

She’s been practically canonized by some websites while becoming the target of journalistic hit pieces from others.

Her local newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, cast her as a petulant demagogue who uses “gifted speaking skills” to “get a crowd on her side.”

“The dispute has made Van Duyne a hero among a fringe movement that believes Muslims – a tiny fraction of the U.S. population – are plotting to take over American culture and courts,” the Dallas Morning News reported. The newspaper then quoted local imam Zia Sheikh as saying the mayor’s stance “fuels anti-Islamic hysteria” and is “very Islamophobic.”

But to conservatives who have watched one city, state and federal leader after another kowtow to the threats and demands of CAIR, she is a breath of fresh air.

“The U.S. is a constitutional republic ruled by constitutional law. If Muslims want to live under Shariah law, fine, then let them move to a country that is ruled by Shariah law,” wrote Greg Polkowski in a March 24 Facebook post. “The problem is they come here for the freedom and opportunities that aren’t available in their home countries (usually Muslim controlled) and upon arrival decide they want to change the U.S. to reflect the political/religious environment they left. This reminds me of a sign I’ve seen posted by a few swimming pools over the years, ‘We don’t swim in your toilet, please don’t pee in our pool.'”

The Dallas Morning News attacked Van Duyne’s supporters as followers of “fringe websites.”

“Van Duyne had spent the last month criticizing and questioning a Muslim mediation panel, conflating it with a court in an interview seen around the country. That night, she pushed the council to endorse a state bill whose author had targeted the panel.

“The dispute has made Van Duyne a hero on fringe websites that fear an Islamic takeover of America.”

While eager to denigrate Van Duyne’s supporters, the Dallas newspaper closes its eyes to the dubious reputation of the group demanding apologies, CAIR. More than just a fringe element, CAIR is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which are terrorist elements.

CAIR is known in the U.S. as a nonprofit advocacy group for Muslim-Americans, but in 2007 U.S. prosecutors named it an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism-funding case against the Holy Land Foundation charity. The charity was convicted of supporting Hamas, which is on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. When President Obama took office in 2008 the trial was shut down and investigations into CAIR ceased. In fact, the president has sought counsel from CAIR officials in matters of Homeland Security and law enforcement, acceding to its demand that the FBI scrub from its training manuals all references to radical Islam.

Yet, despite its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Dallas Morning News and countless other U.S. media outlets continue to quote its officials as credible representatives of all U.S. Muslims. The Muslim Brotherhood has been designated a terrorist organization by scores of countries, including even some Arab and Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, along with Russia, Israel and others.

Dr. Mark Christian grew up in a prominent Muslim family in Egypt and converted to Christianity as an adult. He has been disowned by his family.

Dr. Mark Christian grew up in a prominent Muslim family in Egypt and converted to Christianity as an adult. He has been disowned by his family.

Dr. Mark Christian, a former Muslim who grew up in Egypt the son of a Muslim Brotherhood activist, said such “mediation panels” would not be tolerated in Egypt. But the ignorance of American government officials makes them easy prey for CAIR’s intimidation.

“The concept of ‘Shariah mediation’ to settle disputes between Muslims here in the U.S. is indeed disturbing.” he said. “It is the first step in establishing a parallel system of government within our own system.”

After fleeing Egypt, Christian lived in Great Britain before coming to the United States.

“I have seen these tribunals in operation in Britain,” he said. “They supplant the laws of the host nation by forcing Muslims to abandon their inherent rights under our law and submit instead to Shariah, many times to their own detriment.”

“I applaud the mayor for her strength of conviction. She isn’t denying rights to Muslims; she is preserving them for Muslims.

“She is, however, denying the Muslim Brotherhood one of their chief tools in controlling Muslim populations in free nations.”

CAIR’s alliance with leftists in the U.S. media and so-called “watchdog” groups like the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center assures that whenever someone criticizes CAIR and points out facts about its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood they get branded as “Islamophobic” or “bigoted.”

Thus, it’s no surprise that most politicians cower at the sight of a CAIR spokesman and avoid at all costs saying anything that can be seen as remotely anti-Islam.

But the mayor of one small city in Texas seems to dance to a different drumbeat.

WND requested a phone interview with Van Duyne Tuesday but was told by her secretary that she had urgent city business to tend to.

“I wish to see her character in every elected official in our nation,” Christian said.

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