A Pennsylvania man who mocked Muhammad at a parade for atheists and was confronted physically by a Muslim who assumed it was illegal in America to insult Islam’s founder says he’s been threatened 471 times for making public the fact that a Muslim judge warned him his opinion was unprotected by the First Amendment.
The dispute stems from a filmed confrontation between American Atheists’ Pennsylvania State Director Ernest Perce V and Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim. Elbayomy was accused of storming out of the crowd and assaulting Perce, grabbing a sign around his neck and pulling until the strings choked him.
Perce had attired himself as a “zombie Muhammad” for the event, which enraged Elbayomy.
But then a Muslim judge in Pennsylvania scolded Perce for offending Islam at the Oct. 11, 2011, parade in Mechanicsburg, Pa., called him a doofus and accused him of “using the First Amendment” to madden Muslims. The judge then dismissed charges filed by police against the Muslim defendant.
It was District Judge Mark Martin who brought a Quran to court and told the alleged victim, “I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus.”
The judge added, “I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to p— off other people and cultures – which is what you did.”
Elbayomy – who said he believed it was illegal to mock Muhammad – was charged with harassment. He denied touching Perce at trial, but police officers said Elbayomy admitted grabbing Perce’s sign and beard the night of the incident.
The following is a dark and distorted video posted of the alleged attack:
However, Judge Martin dismissed the charges and purportedly belittled the atheist victim.
The audio of the judge lecturing Curtis for insulting Muhammad (starting at 28:30) is available here:
The judge said, “In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society.”
He also said, “What you’ve 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 [sign] very offensive. (Editor’s note: Reverse of sign said, “Only Muhammad can rape America!) But you have that right, but you are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights.”
Freedom activist Pamela Geller today posted a report saying that she had interviewed Perce and discovered that threats have been flooding in.
“Since his ordeal began, the infidel victim, Ernest Perce, has received 471 verifiable threats. Perce never released any personal information on Judge Martin or Elbayomy, but they released his, and now he has gotten threats at his home,” she reported.
Perce told Geller, “I started receiving death threats immediately after putting the video online of the parade. People have said that they would kill me, rip my eyes out, run me over, shoot me and laugh at me, since I have blasphemed Muhammad. They say I will be found out and [hanged] in front of my family.”
He said he has reported the threats to authorities. But this point, he said he would be more worried by staying silent than from the threats of attacks and death.
According to the interview, also posted at American Thinker, Geller wrote the case proves the need for anti-Shariah legislation, or laws that would protect America from Muslims who want to impose their religious law on the rest of society.
She noted that the judge now apparently is denying that he is Muslim.
“Ultimately, it is irrelevant if the judge is or isn’t a Muslim. What is germane is his Shariah ruling, which is worse if he’s not a Muslim. In Islam, Shariah supersedes all man-made laws. It is the law of Allah, so one might understand (though not condone) a Muslim judge defaulting to Shariah. But an American judge admonishing an infidel victim while holding up the Quran is shocking. You hear the Quran slam down in the audio of the court proceeding. ”
She also reported on a dispute between the victim and the judge over a recording of the court incident.
The court has instructed Perce to destroy his copy because the judge is saying he never gave permission for the recording, the report said.
Perce also told Geller he talked to the judge about the video, and the judge threatened to hold him in contempt for revealing what the judge said.
Perce also said it’s not a surprise that the judge would argue about what he said.
“Remember, a Muslim can lie to a nonbeliever, a kaffir. He spoke Arabic to the defendant and his friend. They answered back,” he said. “If he claims he isn’t a Muslim, then why does he have a Quran? Why did he challenge me to a debate on the interpretation of the Quran? Why get mad at me and insult me? Why then go on a six-minute rant against me? Why value Islam above Christianity?”
He said his plans now include the possibility of a protest against Martin.
Blogger Eugene Volokh posted a commentary that purports to be from the judge.
He accused Perce of “many, many gross misrepresentations.”
“I’m actually Lutheran and have been for at least 41 years,” he said.
The judge also explained, “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.”
He continued, “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 Shariah law into Mechanicsburg.”
Volokh’s note was, “I don’t think this justifies the judge’s berating of the victim, for the reasons I mentioned in the initial post; but I thought it important to let the judge provide his side of the story.”
And Geller noted that perhaps people think the judge is a Muslim because he said so himself.
There were hundreds of comments on the Volokh site, including: “Wait a second, I got the impression … that he dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause – a much different story from finding the defendant not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, as he says he did.”
Added another reader, “How does this change what he did, exactly? It certainly doesn’t refute his words and how he subordinated the First Amendment to the aggrieved feelings of the Muslim.”
Said Shaker Srinivasan, “If charges were dismissed for lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt, why then the lecture to the victim and not the assaulter? Why statements like ‘you’re way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights?’”
Wrote “Guest101,” “Seems to me that if he was interested in preventing the recurrence of these incidents in the community, his time would have been better spent explaining to the defendant that it isn’t acceptable to physically attack someone who expresses a view you disagree with, not scolding the victim for exercising his First Amendment rights.”