For Immediate Release: February 28, 2012
Contact: Diane Gramley 1.814.271.9078 or 1.814.437.5355
Is There a Double Standard? If the Circumstances Had Been Different and a Catholic had Attacked the Pope ‘zombie’ Would the Charges Have Been Dismissed?
(Harrisburg) — On December 6th Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin dismissed harassment charges that had been filed against a Muslim who allegedly accosted, harassed and choked an atheist Ernest Perce who, along with a friend, participated in the Mechanicsburg’s Halloween parade. Perce dressed as the zombie Muhammad while his friend “Carl” depicted a zombie pope. The American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA), a traditional values group, does not support the depictions of Muhammad and the Pope as zombies, but finds the facts around the case very troubling.
“It is troubling that a Pennsylvania magisterial district judge would quote sharia law, with a copy of the Quaran on his bench, when addressing a plaintiff to tell him his ‘crime’ of depicting the Prophet Muhammad would be punishable by death in Muslim countries while he downplays the importance of our own First Amendment. The obvious question is whether the judge, an Army reservist who served two and a half years in Muslim countries, was influenced by Islam during his time in those countries” stated Diane Gramley, president of the AFA of PA.
A cell phone was used to videotape the October 11 incident, but the judge would not allow that to be admitted as evidence. Additionally, he dismissed the testimony of a Mechanicsburg police sergeant who had questioned Talaag Elbayomy about the incident, thus bringing the trial down to an issue of one man’s word against another’s. The judge browbeat the plaintiff, lecturing him on the Islamic religion and the culture surrounding it.
“Some reports have stated Judge Martin is a Muslim and if that is the situation, it has definitely influenced his decision in this case. But even if he is not a Muslin, it is astounding that any judge sitting on a Pennsylvania bench would dismiss the statements of a defendant. Mr. Elbayomy admitted he thought what Mr. Perce was doing was illegal and he “had to do something for my son, my family, for my religion, for my prophet.” In the videotape there is evidence of an altercation. The judge has thrown the First Amendment out the window. I can guarantee you that there were more Catholics standing on the sidewalks of Mechanicsburg that October evening, yet they did not feel compelled to attack “Carl” who depicted the Pope as a zombie. One wonders if that had been the case and a Catholic attacked “Carl” would the charges have been thrown out?” questioned Gramley.
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