A Muslim judge [apparently not; see the UPDATE] recently dismissed a case against a Muslim who attacked an athiest wearing a costume of Mohammed (specifically a “Zombie Mohammed” costume) in a Halloween parade. The Muslim judge berated the athiest, called him a “doofus” for not learning about Mohammed, and told him that the First Amendment does not allow him to “piss off” people from other cultures. Here is a local news report:
Andrew McCarthy sums up the case as follows:
The victim, Ernest Perce, wore a “Zombie Mohammed” costume and pretended to walk among the dead (in the company of an associate who was the “Zombie Pope” — and who, you’ll be shocked to learn, was not assaulted). The assailant, Talag Elbayomy, a Muslim immigrant, physically attacked Perce, attempted to pull his sign off, and, according to police, admitted what he had done right after the incident. The defense argued that Elbayomy believed it was a crime to insult the prophet Mohammed (it is, under sharia law), and that because he was in the company of his children, he had to act to end this provocation and set an example about defending Islam.
The actual audio from court is online here:
McCarthy has made a transcript of the judge’s comments. Here are some of the highlights. Play the audio and start listening at 28:32:
Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in a predominantly Muslim country, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Koran here, and I would challenge you, sir, to show me where it says in the Koran that Mohammed arose and walked among the dead.
[Unintelligible.] You misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it. Kinda makes you look like a doofus.
And Mr. Thomas [Elbayomi's defense lawyer] is correct. In many other Muslim speaking countries – excuse me, in many Arabic speaking countries – call it “Muslim” – something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society, in fact, it could be punished by death, and it frequently is, in their society.
Here in our society, we have a constitution that gives us many rights, specifically, First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers really intended. I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did.
I don’t think you’re aware, sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – uh, I understand you’re an atheist. But, see, Islam is not just a religion, it’s their culture, their culture. It’s their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day towards Mecca. To be a good Muslim, before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca unless you are otherwise told you cannot because you are too ill, too elderly, whatever. But you must make the attempt.
Their greetings, “Salaam alaikum,” “Alaikum wa-salaam,” “May God be with you.” Whenever – it is very common – their language, when they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, “Allah willing, this will happen.” It is – they are so immersed in it.
Then what you have done is you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive. I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive. I find what’s on the other side of this very offensive.
But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.
Having established his bias in favor of sharia law, the judge then goes on to ignore the evidence available to him and conclude that the evidence is insufficient — which is what factfinders tend to do when they don’t want to find a guilty person guilty.
This is highly disturbing on several levels: the ignorant comments about the First Amendment; the elevation of sharia principles above American law; the judge’s pride in his own bias . . . the list goes on and on. I think this has the potential to be a big story — but then again, I am sometimes very wrong in my judgment of what people find significant.
Thanks to Simon Jester and Milhouse.
UPDATE 2-25-12: Andrew McCarthy has a post that casts doubt on the conclusion that the judge is a Muslim. Despite the seemingly clear audio, his court staff is apparently denying it. I couldn’t care less whether he is a Muslim or not — what Martin said is the issue, not his religion — but I am linking McCarthy’s post to set the record straight. Thanks to Dana.