Haslam aide: Tennessee not promoting Islamic code
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is responding to what it calls “confusion” about the role of a Muslim staffer and a council that has advised two state departments on Islamic affairs.
The Republican governor was criticized this summer by several GOP groups over what they perceived as the growing influence of a version of the Islamic code called Shariah in state government.
Claude Ramsey, the deputy to the governor, sent a letter distributed to the state GOP’s executive committee last week seeking to quell those concerns.
“I want to start by clearly expressing 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 complaint finance,” he said in the letter.
“The promotion or advancement of religious ideology is an inappropriate role of state government that is unacceptable, and will not happen during this administration.”
Ramsey stressed the credentials of Samar Ali, who joined the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development earlier this year, as “a bright, young Tennessean.” He noted that she is a former student body president at Vanderbilt and a White House fellow, and that her brother has led the software team for NASA’s Mars rovers.
“There is nothing about the Department or the position that involves Islamic financing or Shariah law,” Ramsey said.
Concerns over the role of an American Muslim Advisory Council are also unfounded, Ramsey said. The members of the panel are not appointed by the governor or the Legislature and it has “no official status with the state, he said. (...)