Having warned us direly about this eventuality for nearly three years (since the last time Sharia was kinda sorta mentioned in court) the Sharianoiacs have finally been vindicated.
This time, an atheist activist (and towering intellectual giant) named Ernie Perce decided to march in his town’s Halloween parade dressed as the “zombie Mohammed.”
Watching the parade with his young children was one Talag Elbayomy, another man of towering intellect, who actually thought it was illegal to dishonor the prophet.
So Elbayomy goes out into the street to … do something. It’s not really clear. Maybe he was just going to tell Perce he had to remove the “Mohammed” sash from his costume, thusly rendering it a mere “zombie.” Alternatively, maybe he was going to actually remove the sash from Perce’s costume himself. There is a video, but it’s not clear what, if any, physical interaction occurred.
What happened next, though, is undisputed. Elbayomy, having been unsuccessful in stopping this sacrilege and still believing a crime is in progress, calls 911. The operator tells him that she needs to know the cross street in order to send an officer.
So Elbayomy begins to follow Perce.
Perce, meanwhile, has begun his own search for an officer. Perce eventually locates one on the street while Elbayomy, still on the phone with 911, is trailing behind him in effort to locate a street sign so as to report Perce’s location to the operator.
Unfortunately, neither of these men possess the necessary joie de vivre to recognize the hilarity here.
Anyway, the two men proceed to tell the officer their respective versions of the story. The officer determines that harassment—not battery or assault—has been committed by Elbayomy against Perce, and issues a citation.
A trial is held on the harassment charge. At the end, the judge acquits Elbayomy. Naturally, doomsdayers like Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review Online are reporting that:
Magistrate Judge Mark Martin, a veteran of the war in Iraq . . . ruled that Talag Elbayomy’s sharia defense — what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed — trumped the First Amendment free speech rights of the victim.
Yes, you read that correctly.
We did read it correctly, Mr. McCarthy. But you are not reporting it correctly. Meanwhile, the American Atheists has this take on the story:
The assault was caught on video, the Muslim man admitted to his crime and charges were filed in what should have been an open-and-shut case. That’s not what happened, though.
In reality, the video does not show or record any assault. The “Muslim man” (he has a name!) did not admit to any crime. He pleaded not guilty and testified that he did not commit or intend to commit the crime of harassment.
It was “open-and-shut” though.
The State simply failed to carry its burden of proof:
Perce testified that Elbayomy tried to take the “Mohammed” sash off of his body. If true, this could constitute an assault or battery. But neither of those was charged.
Elbayomy testified that he did not touch Perce but merely told Perce he needed to take the sash off.
The officer, who was not a percipient witness, but did hear their stories close in time to the event, testified that at the time Elbayomy admitted there had been some form of physical interaction but claimed that he (Elbayomy) was so flustered he could not recall exactly what had occurred.
Elbayomy, for whom English is not his first language, testified that he had misunderstood the police officer’s questions at the time.
The court reasoned that the prosecution bore the burden of proof, there was conflicting testimony about what happened, it seemed likely there would have been witnesses if the altercation in the street in the middle of the parade had been at all serious, and therefore the prosecution had failed to satisfy its burden.
The problem is that before getting to this perfectly reasonable legal analysis, the judge decided to vent a little about how the First Amendment is not meant to shield this kind of behavior (it is), how Perce is an idiot (he is, so is Elbayomy), how offensive the judge would find the “victim’s” conduct if he were Muslim (irrelevant), how seriously Muslims take their religion (irrelevant), etc.
Actually, that last one might arguably be relevant to the mens rea requirement for the harassment charge. The whole thing is so innocuous and benign I find I cannot even summon up the mental effort to analyze it.
All but the burden of proof analysis is dicta. It is just the judge waxing on as judges do sometimes. The judge did not “enforce Sharia law,” any more than a judge who references the Bible in court is “enforcing Biblical law.”
Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure it qualifies as dicta.
It is definitely not cause for hand-wringing about the creep of Sharia law into U.S. courts.
There’s an audio tape of the trial, if you have 36:52 to spare on something complete irrelevant to anyone but the people involved.