Under this headline the Daily Mail takes up the case of Ernest Perce, Pennsylvania director of American Atheists, who claimed to have been assaulted by an angry Muslim while dressed as a “Zombie Muhammad” on a Halloween parade last year. At a court hearing Judge Mark Martin dismissed the charges against the alleged assailant, one Talaag Elbayomy.
The Mail reports: “The American Atheists organisation criticised the decision as ‘completely and unequivocally unacceptable’. It posted on its blog: ‘That a Muslim immigrant can assault a United States citizen in defence 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….'”
As the Mail itself concedes, Judge Martin dismissed the case because the accused denied assaulting Perce and “there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Elbayomy of harassment as it was one man’s word against the other’s”. The American Atheists, however, were evidently outraged that the judge refused to take the word of a white American over that of a “Muslim immigrant”.
The American Atheists were also furious that Judge Martin made it clear that he rejected their view that it is big and clever to insult and abuse minority communities. Martin told Perce:
“Here in our society, we have a constitution that gives us many rights, specifically, First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers really intended. I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did.”
The Mail, of course, usually depicts atheists as part of a secularist conspiracy to undermine the Christian character of our nation. But atheism is apparently OK when it promotes hostility towards “Muslim immigrants”. (On that basis, perhaps the Mail should consider mending fences with Terry Sanderson and the National Secular Society.)
Furthermore, as anyone who’s followed this case will be aware, the American Atheists’ claim that Mark Martin is “a Muslim judge” is simply untrue, being based on a garbled transcription of a recording of his remarks in court. Martin himself has stated clearly: “I’m actually Lutheran, and have been for at least 41 years.” In an interview with the Associated Press, he repeated: “In actuality, I’m a Christian.” Yet this doesn’t prevent the Mail from asserting that Martin is “a recent Islam convert”, with the clear implication that this influenced his ruling.
For further background to the case, and the hysterical response from the Islamophobic right, see LoonWatch.
See also “Judge in ‘Zombie Muhammad’ case moved after threats”,abc27, 28 February 2012