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Pennsylvania “Sharia Court”: Loons Jump the Gun AGAIN on Ginned up “Legal Jihad”

Zombie Atheists

Zombie Pope and Zombie Muhammad Marching in a Halloween Parade

by Ilisha

(H/T: CriticalDragon1177)

All across the looniverse, there is an uproar over an alleged triumph of Sharia in a Pennsylvania court case presided over by a “Muslim” judge.  It’s not the first time anti-Muslim bigots pounced on a story of so-called “legal jihad” before they got their facts straight.

This time, Pennsylvania State Director of American Atheists, Ernest Perce V, was parading down the street as “Zombie Muhammad,” when an outraged Muslim bystander allegedly grabbed him, choked him from behind, and attempted to remove a “Muhammad of Islam” sign from around his neck. Both men complained to  police, Perce for assault and Elbayomy because he apparently thought insulting Islam was a criminal offense.

Perce filed charges, but a judge dismissed the case after he allegedly said, “I’m a Muslim,” and chastised the atheist in question for his misinterpretation and lack of understanding concerning Islam. Judge Martin is not a Muslim, and later said himself he is Lutheran.

Parts of the court video are garbled, and it seems he either misspoke or part of his statement was inaudible.  In any case, his statements and decision to dismiss the case have sparked a fresh controversy over  the limits of free speech.

The judge said in part:

Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it. That makes you look like a doofus…

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 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…

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. [Unintelligble] aside was very offensive.

But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.

Pamela Geller’s hate site, Atlas Shrugs, blared the headline: “AMERICAN MUSLIM JUDGE WHO IMPOSED SHARIA IN PENNSYLVANIA COURT THREATENS TO JAIL INFIDEL VICTIM FOR BLASPHEMY — RELEASING RECORDED AUDIO OF THE CASE

The inflammatory headline was followed by, “Infidel victim, Ernest Perce, has received 471 verifiable threats.” No source was cited to substantiate the claim.

Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch declared:

This is enforcement of Sharia in a Pennsylvania court. The attacker supposedly got off because he “is an immigrant and claims he did not know his actions were illegal, or that it was legal in this country to represent Muhammad in any form. To add insult to injury, he also testified that his 9 year old son was present, and the man said he felt he needed to show his young son that he was willing to fight for his Prophet.”

Though part of the statement on Jihad Watch is in quotes, it’s unclear who Spencer is quoting. A full transcript of the judges statement is here, and the defendant’s immigrant status and lack of legal knowledge are not cited as reasons for dismissing the case.

Spencer also doesn’t explain how this is an example of Sharia. What Islamic Law did the judge cite in this case? Spencer doesn’t say, and apparently that’s fine with his no-evidence-required audience.

Although Eugene Volokh of  The Volokh Conspiracy strongly disagreed with the judge’s decision, he said:

…This is not a situation where the judge “applied Sharia law” in any normal sense of the phrase. The judge claimed that he simply didn’t find enough evidence against the defendant. Perhaps the judge was biased against the victim because of the victim’s anti-Muslim speech, but an anti-Sharia law wouldn’t have helped avoid that. More broadly, a law banning judges from “consider[ing] … Sharia Law” (in the words of the Oklahoma anti-Sharia amendment) wouldn’t keep judges from concluding that someone who insults members of other religious groups should be admonished, punished, or even stripped of the right to legal protection — they would just conclude this based on their own notions of refraining from offending other groups….

The case has nothing do with Sharia, and everything to do with the interpretation and application of American Law.

In the US, free speech is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and in most cases, speech that is distasteful, inflammatory, racist, sexist, or even outright hate speech, is usually permitted. However, there are exceptions, including “fighting words” and “incitement to imminent lawless action.” Though the judge did tell the plaintiff it was his opinion he’d gone way outside the bounds of free speech, this was not the stated reason for dismissing the case.

In response to the controversy, Judge Martin gave a statement clarifying :  ((H/T: Just Stopping By)

This story certainly has legs. As you might imagine, the public is only getting the version of the story put out by the “victim” (the atheist). Many, many gross misrepresentations. Among them: I’m a Muslim, and that’s why I dismissed the harassment charge (Fact: if anyone cares, I’m actually Lutheran, and have been for at least 41 years).

I also supposedly called him and threatened to throw him in jail if he released the tapes he had made in the courtroom without my knowledge/permission (Fact: HE called ME and told me that he was ready to “go public” with the tapes and was wondering what the consequences would be; I advised him again to not disseminate the recording, and that I would consider contempt charges; he then replied that he was “willing to go to jail for (his) 1st amendment rights”- I never even uttered the word “jail” in that conversation).

He said that I kept a copy of the Quran on the bench (fact: I keep a Bible on the bench, but out of respect to people with faiths other than Christianity, I DO have a Quran on the bookcase BESIDE my bench, and am trying to acquire a Torah, Book of Mormon, Book of Confucius and any other artifacts which those with a faith might respect).

He claims that I’m biased towards Islam, apparently because he thinks I’m Muslim. In fact, those of you who know me, know that I’m an Army reservist with 27 years of service towards our country (and still serving). I’ve done one tour in Afghanistan, and two tours in Iraq, and am scheduled to return to Afghanistan for a year this summer. During my first tour in Iraq, I was ambushed once, attacked by a mob once, sniped at once, and rocketed, bombed, and mortared so many times that I honestly don’t know how many time I’ve been attacked. Presumably by Muslim insurgents. My point: if anyone SHOULD be biased towards Muslims, one would think it would be me. I’m not, however, because I personally know or have met many good, decent people who follow Islam, and I shouldn’t characterize the actions of those who tried to kill me as characterizations of all Muslims.

When I asked him why he dressed up as “Muhammad zombie,” he told me that it was because he was reflecting the Muslim belief that Muhammad rose from the dead, walked as a zombie, and then went to heaven. That was one of the reasons I tried to spend 6 whole minutes trying to explain and de-mystify Islam through my own knowledge, and in an attempt to prevent an incident like this recurring in my community. Unfortunately, the message was obviously not received in the vein that I had intended. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I did use the word “doofus,” but didn’t call him that directly; I said something akin to “ if you’re going to mock another religion or culture, you should check your facts, first- otherwise, you’ll look like a doofus.”;

In short, I based my decision on the fact that the Commonwealth failed to prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the charge was just; I didn’t doubt that an incident occurred, but I was basically presented only with the victim’s version, the defendant’s version, and a very intact Styrofoam sign that the victim was wearing and claimed that the defendant had used to choke him. There so many inconsistencies, that there was no way that I was going to find the defendant guilty.

A lesson learned here: there’s a very good reason for Rule 112 of Rules of Criminal Procedure- if someone makes an unauthorized recording in a Court not of Record, there’s no way to control how it might be manipulated later, and then passed off as the truth. We’ve received dozens upon dozens of phone calls, faxes, and e-mails. There are literally hundreds of not-so-nice posts all over the internet on at least 4 sites that have carried this story, mainly because I’ve been painted as a Muslim judge who didn’t recuse himself, and who’s trying to introduce Sharia law into Mechanicsburg.

Attempts to link the case to Islamic Law are illogical and absurd, but will no doubt provide convincing “evidence” for those already inclined to believe “creeping sharia” is a genuine threat to America.

However, the case may very well spark a wider debate. The idea that a judge may have sacrificed free speech on the alter of religious and cultural sensitivity is bound to attract attention, especially as Western democracies increasingly grapple with issues of multiculturalism, provocation, and the boundaries of free speech.

**********

The judge’s controversial statements begin in minute 29:

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  • Believing Atheist

    @Critical Dragon and @HGG,

    Don’t worry guys I am currently writing a new more accurate petition. (I didn’t write that petition btw). Will you sign my petition if it reflects simply the facts, Critical Dragon? I know HGG is on board.

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  • RDS

    “…he told me that it was because he was reflecting the Muslim belief that Muhammad rose from the dead, walked as a zombie, and then went to heaven.”

    wait, what?

  • http://humanadvocatefoodbank.org/Home.html The Knocker

    How ironic, where were these protestors when Judges have allowed child molester free throughout the U.S.

  • Isa

    I know that this isn’t the most important part of the article, but is anybody else disturbed by how ignorant this man is about Islam, as attested by the following statement?

    “When I asked him why he dressed up as “Muhammad zombie,” he told me that it was because he was reflecting the MUSLIM BELIEF THAT MUHAMMAD ROSE FROM THE DEAD, WALKED AS A ZOMBIE, AND THEN WENT TO HEAVEN.” (my emphasis)

    I can’t think of any Muslim sect or group, in the history of Islam or in its present day, that holds this belief. Was he mistakenly referring to the “Night Journey”, wherein Muhammad FELL ASLEEP and traveled to Jerusalem, Hell, then Paradise (wherein some Muslims don’t take literally, while some do)? This man’s polemic sounds more like a jibe at Christianity, because most Christians do believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @Believing Atheist

    If you think the Judge should be impeached and you have good reason to believe that, than find an alternative. If you have reason to believe that Judge Martin ought to loose his job other than what’s stated in that Islamophobic petition, at the very least you should start your own petition and not even encourage people to sign that one. Ilisha is correct. At the very least, you will be giving legitimacy to Loons if you promote that petition and you don’t want to do that. Would you encourage people to sign a petition with racist or antisemitic language, even if you agreed with the stated goal of the petition, and stated goal of the petition was not racist or antisemitic?

  • HGG

    The wording of that petition is indeed problematic. The failure of the judge was in his complete disregard of the Constitution and his stupidity in trying to protect “feelings” An aptly worded petition shouldn’t include the word “Sharia” in it at all.

    BA, if you start a correctly worded petition, I’ll support it.

  • Ilisha

    @Believing Atheist

    That petition contains distortions and factual errors:

    “…dismissed assault charges”

    The charge was harassment, not assault.

    “egregious pro-sharia bias,” “citing sharia”

    The judge never “cited” Sharia. I really don’t think we should be promoting this Sharia hysteria.

    “He is heard telling Perce ‘I am a Muslim and this offends me.'”

    Those are weasel words, and the judge has said he’s not a Muslim.

    This whole thing is beginning to have a lynch mob feel.

    If people want to sign a petition, I’d suggest writing/finding one that’s at least factually accurate.

  • khushboo

    Beautifully said Solid!

  • Believing Atheist

    My above post the last sentence, the to should be too I believe. That was a mistake.

    Also here is the latest update on the stupidity of Judge Mark Martin.

    Interviewer: When I spoke to him over the phone, Judge Martin acknowledged it’s his job to protect the rights of people like the atheist, no matter how offensive they might be.

    Interviewer to Judge Martin: … There are some who believe you were failing to protect that right.

    Judge Martin: No, I don’t think so. Here’s the thing: It’s a right, it’s not a privilege, it’s a right. With rights come responsibilities. The more that people abuse our rights, the more likely that we’re going to lose them.

    But I don’t quite see how this is “the thing,” at least in the sense of an explanation of the judge’s actions at the trial. I don’t think that we’re in danger of losing our free speech rights because some people say things that are offensive to Muslims. I do think that free speech rights are in danger when judges berate alleged crime victims for their anti-Islam speech, and thus convey the message that the legal system may be biased against those who engage in such speech and may fail to protect those people because of such speech.
    http://volokh.com/2012/02/27/more-from-judge-mark-martin-of-the-zombie-mohammed-incident-on-cnn/

    Also here is the latest update from Law Professor Turley:

    Notably, however, Martin says that he didn’t doubt that the incident occurred and the defendant admitted that he acted in response to an insult to Islam. Yet, this is not viewed as sufficient to sustain a harassment charge.
    http://jonathanturley.org/2012/02/26/judge-in-zombie-mohammed-case-responds/

    The Muslim defendant admitted that he acted in response to an insult to Islam, yet the IMBECILE JUDGE MARK MARTIN ruled against the Atheist. WTF!!! The Muslim admitted his transgression.

  • Believing Atheist

    There is a petition going around to impeach judge Mark Martin. I don’t like the language of the petition. It states: Pennsylvania House of Representatives: Impeach pro-sharia Judge Mark Martin

    He is not pro-Sharia. He just has a distorted view of the law. But nonetheless I signed it because I value the Constitution and Free Speech and this judge is detrimental to both.

    Whoever else values the Constitution and Free Speech should sign it to
    http://www.change.org/petitions/pennsylvania-house-of-representatives-impeach-pro-sharia-judge-mark-martin

  • Solid Snake

    @Nadir

    Your analogy is fine if all other variables are held constant. But surely the atmosphere in today’s world regarding religion and Islam specifically is what sets these two analogies apart.

    Say for instance the NFL was not broadcasting any football games in Dallas on purpose and was spying on a majority of Cowboy fans using the local police, and say there was a huge industry backed financially by The Ravens organization to demonize all of the Cowboys star players, coaches, legends, and fans to the point where fans of other teams actively seek out fans that “look” like cowboy fans in order to harm or intimidate them. What if NFL spokespersons routinely called the Cowboys organization “a hate filled organization” and called the Cowboys playbook “A load of crap, poor play design, high school students can beat this stupid team”. What if Maiami, San Francisco, Tennessee, The Patriots, all tried to pass rules within their own stadiums to ban any Cowboy fans displaying Cowboy shirts, hats,or rooting for the Cowboys if they are playing there.

    Now Imagine all that happening to Muslims but instead its killings, drone strikes, kill teams, harassment, lies, hate, etc etc

    I would probably understand if a Cowboys fan gets pissed at a “Cowboys Suck” shirt.

    My main point is that I believe the Judge did that because of the current political and social climate. he just wanted both parties to respect each other.

    Although if there is enough evidence that the Muslim guy assaulted our Zombie friend then he should be punished. As a Muslim he should know that if you immigrate to a land where u are granted safety YOU MUST FOLLOW THE LAWS! Unless it actively attempts to stop you from practicing the basic tenets like praying. If indeed you cannot practice Islam then you leave! Simple! I mean as long as your home country is still intact! Right?

  • Ilisha

    @CriticalDragon1177

    You wondered if Spencer and Geller would correct their stories? Atlas Shrugs did…kind of.

    “Much is being made of whether the judge said he was a Muslim (it sounds like he says just that in the audio from the trial). But it is irrelevant if he is or he isn’t. What is germane is his sharia ruling. It’s worse if he’s not a Muslim. In Islam, sharia supersedes all manmade laws. It is the law of [A]llah, so one might understand (though not condone) a Muslim judge defaulting to sharia. But an American judge admonshing [sic] an infidel victim while holding up the quran is shocking. You hear the quran slam down in the audio.”

    You were right: “…they’ll try to find some other reason why this should still matter.” It’s just a new spin.

  • Nadir

    @Khushaboo: As an analogy, some guy walks down the street in Dallas sporting a “Cowboys Suck!” t-shirt. A die-hard Cowboys fan runs up and tears it off of him. In court, the judge gives a long lecture to the victim about how, in Dallas, they take football really seriously and explains that the Cowboys won several Superbowls – so “before you start mocking someone else’s football team you may want to find out a little bit more about it. That makes you look like a doofus.” The judge goes on to say that he himself is offended by it, even though he’s a Dolphins fan. Then he throws the case out because of a “lack of evidence” while concurrently telling the victim he doesn’t have the right to wear a “Cowboys Suck!” t-shirt in Dallas because it’s offensive to fans of that team. Can you imagine the brawls that would take place at sporting events if logic like this was acceptable from a judge? Defense lawyers would have a field day. It sets a bad precedent if this judge isn’t harshly admonished for his behavior.

  • HGG

    “The GOP candidate was responding to comments he made last October. He had said that he “almost threw up” after reading JFK’s 1960 speech in which he declared his commitment to the separation of church and state.”

    What a coincidence! Anytime I hear Santorum speak I want to throw up, too!

  • HGG

    “Oh BOOHOO, atheist making fun of other religions and not expect a reaction?? it was DELIBERATELY PROVOCATIVE! Stop with the VICIM ACT! I guess this militant atheist got his 15-minutes of fame and alot of sheep behind him pointing the blame at the “bad Muslim”.”

    The “Bad Muslim” is at fault. That you seem to blame Zombie Muhammed really doesn’t help.

  • Nadir

    Khushaboo: A physical response is exactly what was expected – such behavior depends on a bad reaction. Just like anything that relies on shock value, if nobody pays it any attention, it has no reason to exist. Just like moHAMed up there.

  • khushboo

    mo, another hateful troll to ignore.

  • khushboo

    Nadir, I’m not excusing the physical response because that’s wrong but seriously, after all the reaction you hear from Muhammad cartoons, what was he really expecting?? It’s obvious he was hoping for something like this so it could get some publicity.

  • moHAMmud

    Dude…nothing is more comical than seeing you infidels defend stuff like this. You’re heads will be separated from your body before your life is over by a muslim that thinks you’re an animal because his imaginary friend is better than yours…rofl… Buncha goofus dufus mofos in here.

  • Believing Atheist

    SHARIA ALERT!

    This just in today from RightWing Watch

    Will ‘Michigan Become the First Islamic State in America’?

    Today the United States Reformation Prayer Network, an organization of “prophetic voices” using “strategic targeting coordinates for reformation prayer” founded by Cindy Jacobs, sent out a prayer alert for Michigan’s Tuesday primary which warned about the state’s Muslim community. Rick Joyner of the Oak Initiative previously warned that “there is actually an attempt to make Michigan our first Muslim state,” and in the prayer alert from Anita Christopher of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network and the West Michigan Prayer Center made the same claim today: “There seems to be an underlying agenda by Islam to have Michigan become the first Islamic state in America.” She went on to call for Michigan to ‘come into its Kingdom destiny” and for the government to “make covenant decrees over the people.” While such a claim is absurd on its face, it appears even more ridiculous after learning that Michigan’s Muslim community represents approximately 3 percent of the state’s population:
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/will-michigan-become-first-islamic-state-america

    The Sharia Alert was sarcasm btw. Unfortunately I have to make this Disclaimer for my own protection since there are at least two people out there who don’t understand sarcasm and well…you can fill in the rest.

  • Nadir

    Khushboo: Many have used the “deliberately provocative” line for a wide range of crimes, from simple assault to rape. It doesn’t hold water. It can’t be used consistently and objectively across the board, and it doesn’t ever excuse a physical response.

  • Ilisha

    @Believing Atheist

    You can have that debate, but not with me. I’m not wading into that swamp. Turley can’t agree or disagree with me on an opinion I never expressed.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @Rocky Lore

    You Wrote,
    —————————————————————————
    No surprise that LoonWatch is yet blaming the victim of a savage attack by a “peaceful” Muslim…again. This IS Sharia Law because the Muslim got away with it. Just like what happened to Rhea Page.

    By the way, LoonWatch, why didn’t Christians attack the real victim (no, it’s not the Muslim) when he had ZOmbie Jesus and Zombie Pope. LoonWatch believes in one set of laws for Muslims and one set for everyone else.
    —————————————————————————

    Okay, how is Loon Watch blaming anyone? Also since the judge’s decision had nothing to do with sharia law, how is this a victory for sharia? Seriously, even if according to sharia, Elbayomy should not have been convicted for attacking Ernest Perce, and was not convicted, but the decision not to convict had nothing to do with sharia, how’s this a victory for sharia? Even If someone else is convicted or let go based on US law, and us law, even if also happens that the judge made the right decision according to sharia, how’s that victory for sharia? The Judge’s decision had nothing to do with sharia. If you’re saying we should have convicted Elbayomy just because that would have gone against sharia, that’s kind of dumb. You seem to be trying desperately to salvage the idea that this is a case of creeping sharia, when it clearly is not. Granted the judge may have made a bad decision, but regardless it had nothing to do with sharia.

  • Believing Atheist

    @llisha,

    But he is lying! That’s the entire point I am trying to get at. The judge blatantly said that and I quote: “But you have that right, but you are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights.”…

    If the reason for dismissing the case was about insufficient evidence then (1). That could be cleared up with Police testimony and the tape and (2). No need for a lecture on First Amendment Rights. Why did the judge even mention that the atheist went beyond his First Amendment rights? If the problem is insufficient evidence then the 1st Amendment does not come into play here and is irrelevant.

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