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Senate bill criticized as "anti-Muslim bigotry" moves forward on House floor

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HELENA -

A controversial bill takes a big step forward on Monday, as members of Montana’s House of Representatives voted once more on Senate Bill 97, which would prohibit the application of foreign law in state courts.

Much of the controversy draws from groups including the Montana ACLU and Missoula’s Standing Alongside America’s Muslims, or “SALAM,” who are calling the bill a “platform for anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On it’s Facebook page, ACLU of Montana calls Senate Bill 97 “a wolf in sheep's clothing - a bill that used to be a Sharia Law ban aimed at discriminating against our Muslim friends and neighbors, renamed ‘Foreign Law Ban’ to try and fool the courts and lawmakers.”

On Monday, the bill entered it’s second of three hearings during the House floor session, and was approved by a vote of 56-44, meaning it will continue on in the approval process.

Here is Senate Bill 97, as voted on by representatives on Monday:

However, before SB 97 was voted on, an amendment was proposed by Representative Ellie Hill of Missoula: 

The amendment was voted down 18-82, but Hill said afterward that her inclusion of the “Law of Moses” was intended to include multiple religious laws from being included in Montana’s courtrooms, rather than simply isolating Sharia Law. She said after Monday’s vote, she believes SB 97 is clearly based in anti-Muslim and anti-Sharia Law sentiments, stating 26 other states have already failed at passing similar laws.

Multiple efforts have been made on Monday to contact Keith Regier , the sponsor of the bill; at the moment, Regier has not responded to calls or e-mails.

Stay tuned as this story will continue to be updated.

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