Pa. Judge's Ruling Proof of Sharia Law in US Courts?

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A Pennsylvania state judge recently dismissed an assault case involving a Muslim man who attacked an atheist for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

The judge's decision has outraged freedom of speech proponents and some legal experts, who say it is in clear violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Some legal experts are also wondering if this case demonstrates how Islamic sharia law is slowly creeping into the U.S. legal system.

The incident occurred last year in Mechanicsburg, Pa., when an atheist came dressed as "Zombie Muhammad" for a Halloween parade.

Forty-six-year-old Talaag Elbayomy was accused of attacking Ernest Perce V, with the Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania, during the Oct. 11 parade.

Perce claimed Elbayomy tried to take his "Muhammad of Islam" sign and choked him. The incident was caught on video.

Elbayomy, who attended the parade event with his family, said he felt compelled to do something in face of the insult to his religion.

He was arrested and charged with harassment after Perce reported the incident to a nearby police officer after he left the parade. The officer did not see the alleged assault.

Elbayomy later filed his own complaint with police accusing Perce of instigating the incident and claiming he never laid a hand on him. He admitted to arguing with Perce about his costume.

Judge Mark Martin, who presided over the Perce's case, said there wasn't enough evidence to convict Elbayomy of harrassment, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported.

The grainy video of the incident was ruled inadmissible, making the case one man's word against another's, the judge said.

While rendering his decision in which he went on to explain his personal feelings about the case, Martin told Perce that he was a "doofus" and "way outside the bounds of his First Amendment rights."

He also said Elbayomy was simply defending his "culture."

Perce, later said he was angry that the judge "railed on me for six minutes about how bad I was offending Islam," according to the London Daily Mail.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, questioned whether the judge was letting his personal views get in the way of the U.S. legal process.

"I can understand the judge's claims of conflicting testimony on the crime. However, I view this as an extremely troubling case that raises serious questions of judicial temperament, if not misconduct," he wrote on his blog.

"There are legitimate uses of the culture defense. However, when it comes to free speech, that is not just our controlling constitutional right but the touchstone of our culture," Turley wrote.

The American Atheists have also criticized the judge's decision as "completely and unequivocally unacceptable."

"That a Muslim immigrant can assault a United States citizen in defense of his religious beliefs and walk away a free man, while the victim is chastised and insulted by a Muslim judge who then blamed the victim for the crime committed against him is a horrible abrogation," the organization posted on its site.

It is not clear if Judge Martin is really a Muslim. On the purported tape of the court's proceedings posted to Youtube, a man identified as the judge says he is a Muslim. However, the Gulf War veteran has denied that claim.

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