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JewishJournal.com

February 25, 2012

Judge dismisses charge in ‘Zombie Muhammad’ case; defends decision

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/judge_dismisses_charge_in_zombie_muhammad_case_defends_decision_20120225/

A federal district court judge this week dismissed a harassment charge against a Muslim man who allegedly attacked an atheist who had dressed up as “Zombie Muhammad” for Halloween, while leaving Zombie Pope unharmed.

Judge Mark Martin said that the evidence was entirely he-said, he said, and that it wouldn’t be enough for a reasonable trier of fact to convict Talaag Elbayomy, 46. He also had a few words for Zombie Muhammad—that would be Ernest Perce V.

From the Daily Caller:

“Having had the benefit of having spent over 2 and a half years in predominantly Muslim countries I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam,” Martin said. “In fact I have a copy of the Koran here and I challenge you sir to show me where it says in the Koran that Mohammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it. It makes you look like a doofus… In many Arabic speaking countries something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society in fact it can be punishable by death and it frequently is in their society.”

Eugene Volokh, my First Amendment professor, took issue with the judge’s comments toward Perce. And now the judge has reportedly spoken out to defend his dismissal of the case and verbal treatment of Perce, also via the Volokh Conspiracy:

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.

It’s unusual to see a federal judge publicly defending a decision. Did he need to?

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