Posted Feb 29, 2012 01:10 pm CST
A Pennsylvania judge has been relocated to a county courthouse for his safety after dismissing the case against a Muslim man accused of attacking an atheist dressed as “Zombie Muhammad” at a Halloween parade.
An audio recording of Judge Mark Martin scolding the alleged victim at a December hearing went viral, leading to online suggestions that the judge should be executed and more than 200 critical emails and phone calls to his office, the Patriot-News reports. The Associated Press and CNN also have stories.
Martin dismissed a harassment charge against a Muslim man, Talaag Elbayomy, saying it was one person’s word against another, and no other evidence supported the charge, CNN explains. But the Mechanicsburg judge went on to criticize the man who said he was attacked, atheist Ernie Perce.
Martin told Perce he had misrepresented Islam, making him “look like a doofus,” according to the AP account. Martin went on to give his views on the scope of the First Amendment, CNN says.
“You have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights,” Martin said. “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.”
Martin told CNN and the Associated Press that he is not a Muslim. “The commonwealth didn’t present enough evidence to show me that this person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Martin said. “That’s why I dismissed the case. Nothing as nefarious as what everyone’s thinking, that I’m a Muslim or I’m biased. I’m actually a Lutheran.”
Perce told AP he has also received death threats.