It almost sounds like the makings of a joke: an atheist, a Muslim and the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade. But non-believers aren't laughing about an attack and insist what's really frightening is the way a district judge ruled on it.
The Atheists of Central Pennsylvania decided to walk in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade. There was a zombie Pope and a zombie Muhammed. On YouTube, you can catch a scary moment. It's dark and distorted, but a Muslim man comes off the curb extremely offended at Muhammed being depicted in this way.
"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," said Ernie Perce, who donned the costume.
The Muslim man and Perce both called police to report a crime. Both kept walking, and a few blocks down found Sgt. Brian Curtis. He talked to both and came to this conclusion.
"Mr. Perce has the right to do what he did that evening, and the defendant in this case was wrong in confronting him," he said.
Talaag Elbayomy was charged with harassment, but District Judge Mark Martin threw it out after criticizing Perce, the victim, and even calling him a "doofus." The audio is also on YouTube.
Martin, who has done several tours of duty in the Middle East, said Perce would be put to death in those societies for his crime, but Perce wonders why that's relevant in this country.
"He let a man who is Muslim, because of his preference of his culture and his way of life, walk free from an attack," Perce said.
R. Mark Thomas represented Elbayomy and applauds the judge.
"I think this was a good dressing down by the judge," he said. "The so-called victim was the antagonist and we introduced evidence that clearly showed his attitude toward Muslims. The judge didn't do anything I wouldn't have done if I was in that position."
Although Elbayomy denied touching Perce at trial, Curtis said he admitted grabbing Perce's sign and beard the night of the incident.
Talaag Elbayomy said he was at the parade with his wife and two kids and felt he just had to do something. In fact, he too called police because he thought it was a crime for someone to depict Muhammed in such a way. He has since learned otherwise.
I have one word for this issue: APPEAL!!!
i have a question - what was a muslim family doing at a Halloween parade?
"Virtually all Halloween traditions are based either in ancient pagan culture, or in Christianity. From an Islamic point of view, they all are forms of idolatry (shirk). As Muslims, our celebrations should be ones that honor and uphold our faith and beliefs. How can we worship only Allah, the Creator, if we participate in activities that are based in pagan rituals, divination, and the spirit world."
if he was such a devout Muslim and hence, offended, perhaps he shouldn't be at an event based on Pagan or Christian beliefs.
as for the judge's decision, if it were based on lack of evidence for assault that's one thing, but it sounds as though the judge was making a decision based on his ideals of wright or wrong, and he feels as though the victim was the protagonist. judge's should be impartial and solely look at the law and evidence. i fail to see how his decision was based on anything but personal opinion.
Gee I wonder if the Muslim maybe was LOOKING for things to be offended about!
Although it does demonstrate the statistics that atheists are disliked more than any other minority (including Muslims), the more serious thing is the victim-blaming and the assault on free speech. I've read plenty of examples of the "you have the right to never be offended" mentality across the world, but now it's hit my home state.
Pretty sure Flynt won. too.