Some 15,000 Muslims are expected to attend a weekend convention in Hartford dedicated to religious freedom, part of a nationwide campaign against what organizers describe as overwhelming bigotry and hatred.

The theme for the annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America is "Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah." It was chosen in response to bills introduced in more than 20 statehouses around the United States to ban the use of Shariah, the Islamic system of law, and other foreign legal codes.

Four states — Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee and South Dakota — have approved legislation curtailing the use of foreign laws inside their courtrooms, and a similar measure cleared the Kansas legislature earlier this month. Supporters of such bills describe them as important to uphold American values and say they will ensure that legal decisions protect long-cherished liberties.

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