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France attacks, boycott calls show clash of secularism, extremism, law expert says

Thursday, October 29, 2020

LAWRENCE — What began as calls for boycotts of French products turned violent Thursday as a knife-wielding attacker killed three people at a church in Nice, France. The escalation is part of a controversy that began with a French teacher showing students a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

University of Kansas law scholar Raj Bhala is available to discuss the ongoing situation with media. Bhala, who has expertise in Islamic law and international trade law, can comment on blasphemy as it is understood in Islamic law as well as legality of boycotts of French imports under international trade law.

“Recent events show not only the tragically lethal clash of secularism and extremism but also raise difficult questions about the legality of boycotts under international trade law prompted by allegations of blasphemy under Islamic law,” he said.

Bhala, Brenneisen Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Law, can discuss the fraught relationship between Islamic law, trade, terror attacks, the current situation in France and related topics. He is globally renowned for his scholarship in international trade law and Islamic law, publishing dozens of books and journal articles on the topics, including the acclaimed four-volume International Trade Law: A Comprehensive Textbook, now in its fifth edition, the two-volume treatise “Modern GATT Law,” “TPP Objectively: Legal, Economic, and National Security Dimensions of CPTPP,” second edition and “Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a).” He practiced international banking law at the Federal Reserve of New York before entering academia and is currently senior adviser to Dentons in Kansas City. He has worked in more than 25 countries, including France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, Israel and throughout India.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at mkrings@ku.edu, 785-864-8860 or @MikeKrings.