VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 13   |   MARCH 30 – APRIL 5, 2011


Mosque appealing Florida judge’s order to proceed under Islamic law

judge nielsen
Hillsborough, Fla. Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen

TAMPA, Fla. – The Islamic Education Center, a Tampa, Fla. mosque is appealing a March 22, 2011 ruling issued by Hillsborogh Circuit Judge Richard A. Nielsen of Florida’s 13th District for the case to “proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law.”

Nielsen continues to take heat over both his March 3 and March 22 orders responding to plaintiffs Ghassan Mansour, Abbas Hashemi, Hamid Faraji and Dr. Sam Hakki, who claim to have been improperly ousted in 2002 as trustees of the center.

On March 3, Nielsen wrote, “The court has made the following findings and rulings in connection with plaintiff’s Emergency Motion to Enforce Arbitrator’s Award:

“1. This case will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law.

“2. Under Ecclesiastic Islamic Law, pursuant to the Qur’an, Islamic brothers should try to resolve a dispute amongst themselves. When the brothers are unable to do so, they can agree to present the dispute to the greater community of brothers within the mosque or the Muslim community for resolution. If that is not done or does not result in a resolution of the dispute, the dispute is to be presented to an Islamic judge for determin-ation, and that is or can be an A’lim.

“3. The remainder of the hearing will be to determine whether Islamic dispute resolu-tion procedures have been followed in this matter.”

The mosque’s Attorney Paul Thanasides filed an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing religion has no place in a secular court.

Thanasides was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times last week as saying, “The mosque believes whole-heartedly in the Koran and its teachings. They certainly follow Islamic law in connection with their spirtitual endeavors. But with respect to secular endeavors, they believe Florida law should apply in Florida courts.”

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