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Fact check: Kamala Harris does not want to institute Sharia law

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/14/2020 Matthew Brown, USA TODAY
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The claim: Kamala Harris supports the implementation of Sharia law in the United States

Kamala Harris holding a sign: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks after Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden introduced her as his running mate during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. © Carolyn Kaster, AP Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks after Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden introduced her as his running mate during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.

Since the announcement that Sen. Kamala Harris will join former Vice President Joe Biden’s on the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential ticket, attacks and misinformation have exploded across social media. Some evoke old, baseless racist tropes.

“I support world Islamization,” a meme including Harris and shared on Facebook over a thousand times reads. “I support Sharia Law in the USA,” the post continues. USA TODAY reached out to the original poster.

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Other posts that accuse Harris of supporting Sharia law in California also began circulating when news reports cited her as one of Biden’s likely choices for VP.

Sharia is the Arabic term for Islamic law. In some majority-Muslim countries, Sharia is foundational to the legal system.

Harris has not made any public comments indicating her support for the institution of Sharia law.

The viral memes also hearken back to racist tropes levied against former President Barack Obama, whom many falsely claimed was either secretly a Muslim or not born in the United States.

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Kamala Harris’ multifaith family

Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California, to a Christian father and Hindu mother. She was raised attending both Baptist church services and Hindu temple, an interfaith upbringing that reflects her upbringing as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. She identifies as Christian.

Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff, who is Jewish.

USA TODAY could not find instances of Harris making any comments about Sharia, reaching back through her Senate campaign in 2016.

Harris frequently cited the New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan and liberation theology during speeches and campaign stops.

“Neighbor is not about having the same ZIP code,” Harris said at a Poor People’s Campaign forum last year. “What we learn about in that parable is that neighbor is someone you are walking by on the street.

“Neighbor is about understanding and living in service of others — that we are all each other’s brothers and sisters.”

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Many states and localities have passed legislation banning Sharia law, though it is unclear what these laws are intended to do.

Since 2010, almost every state in the country has passed some form of anti-Sharia legislation. The laws rarely protect rights that aren't already constitutionally mandated or covered by preexisting law.  

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to strike down several of these laws, seeing them as a form of anti-Muslim bigotry. 

"Efforts to single out Muslims and to advance the ugly idea that anything Islamic is un-American are unjust and discriminatory and should be rejected," the group claims.

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Echoes of falsehoods leveled at Obama

From the start of his presidency, Obama was dogged by various false accusations that he was not an American citizen, was secretly a Muslim and is attempting to institute Sharia law in the United States. For several years prior to his election, President Donald Trump said Obama was not born here; he reversed that position in 2016.

Similarly, Harris has been the target of criticisms about her eligibility for the presidency, with some inaccurately claiming that she is ineligible to hold the nation's highest office.

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Our ruling: False

Kamala Harris is a Christian and has not made any discoverable public comments about Sharia law. Accusations that she will institute Sharia law are baseless. We rate this claim FALSE because it is not supported by our research.

Our fact-check sources:

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Kamala Harris does not want to institute Sharia law


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