'Sharia Ruling' Judge Defends Decision for Muslim

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Many are wondering whether a Pennsylvania judge went too far in dismissing a harassment charge against a Muslim who attacked a man for mocking Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

Atheist Ernie Perce had dressed up as what he called "Zombie Mohammed" for a march at a Halloween parade in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

That's when Perce charges a Muslim man named Talaag Elbayomy attacked him on the street.

"He grabbed me, choked me from the back and spun me around to try to get my sign off that was wrapped around my neck," Perce recalled.

Police charged the Muslim with harassment. But when the case went to court, Cumberland County's Judge Mark Martin not only threw it out, he slammed Perce for mocking Islam, calling him a "doofus."

Jay Sekulow with the American Center for Law and Justice, offered his insight on the case, on "The 700 Club," March 2. Watch his interview, following this report.

Sekulow aslo gives an update on Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty for his Christian faith. For more on how you can help, click here.

"Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two and half years in predominately Muslim countries, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam," the judge said.

"So before you start mocking somebody else's religion, you might want to find out a little bit more about it," said Martin, who served three Middle East tours in the U.S. Armed Forces. "It kind of makes you look like a doofus."

Perce said the judge also made reference to being a Muslim in his ruling.

"What you've done is you've completely trashed their essence, their being," the judge said. "They find it very, very, very offensive. I'm a Muslim. I find it offensive."

But in a phone interview, Martin told CBN News he's a life-long Lutheran, not a Muslim.

"The victim claims that I said that I was a Muslim, and he portrayed incorrectly that I was a Muslim, and that I showed biased toward Muslims in my ruling, and really that's ridiculous," Martin told CBN News.

But critics, like Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, say the judge stepped out of bounds of the First Amendment.

"It's outrageous when a judge just decides, 'I've got a black robe I'm sitting up on high, so I'm going to make up my own law or follow a law other than the Constitution,'" Gohmert told CBN News.

Gohmert, who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and a former judge himself, said Martin's ruling in this case isn't too far from Islamic Sharia law.

"It sounds like he's Sharia compliant, not constitutionally compliant," the Texas lawmaker said.

Martin, however, stands by his ruling, saying there wasn't enough evidence to find the defendant guilty. He told CBN News he believes one of his roles is to keep peace in the community.

"Just because you have First Amendment rights that allow you to say something doesn't necessarily mean that you should always say that thing you want to say," Martin said.

"What I was trying to do in as quick of a time as I could, (is) educate the victim to try help him understand a little bit about Islam," he explained.

Police Sgt. Brian Curtis, the arresting officer in the case, was not happy with the judge's ruling.

"I believe that I brought a case that showed proof beyond reasonable doubt, and the case was dismissed, and I was disappointed," Curtis said.

The Muslim defendant in the case reportedly did not know it is legal to criticize Mohammed under U.S. law.

--Originally aired March 2, 2012.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.