(CNSNews.com) - An Islamic civil rights and advocacy group is calling on North Carolina judges to allow people to use the Koran when taking an oath, saying the use of the Bible exclusively represents "an inappropriate state endorsement of religion."
The request by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) comes after Guilford County judges said they would not allow use of Korans in their courtrooms.
"An oath of the Koran is not a lawful oath under our law," said W. Douglas Albright, Guilford's senior resident Superior Court judge. According to state law, swearing an oath constitutes putting one's hand on the "Holy Scriptures."
Those who do not wish to take an oath using the Bible may make an "affirmation."
"By stating that only one book qualifies as 'Holy Scriptures,' the court may be making an inappropriate endorsement of a single set of religious beliefs," said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar.
"Eliminating the opportunity to swear an oath on one's own holy text may also have the effect of diminishing the credibility of that person's testimony," Iftikhar added.
North Carolina's Administrative Office of the Courts last week issued a preliminary opinion saying that state law allows people to be sworn in using a Koran rather than a Bible, CAIR noted.
According to Iftikhar, CAIR will offer a free copy of the Koran to any judge in North Carolina or nationwide for use in oaths or "for personal awareness of the holy text."
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