Published February 24, 2012
A Pennsylvania judge reportedly dismissed charges against a Muslim man accused of attacking an atheist dressed as "Zombie Muhammad" during a Halloween parade last year.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports that Cumberland County Magisterial District Judge Mark Martin said there wasn't enough evidence to convict Talaag Elbayomy of harrassment. Although there was grainy video of the incident, it was ruled inadmissible, leaving the case one man's word against another's, the judge said.
Elbayomy, 46, allegedly attacked Ernest Perce V, of the Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania, during the Oct. 11 parade in Mechanicsburg. Perce claimed Elbayomy tried to take his "Muhammad of Islam" sign and choked him, the newspaper reports.
Martin heard testimony from Elbayomy, Perce and Mechanicsburg Police Sgt. Brian Curtis, who took the complaint from Perce moments after the alleged attack. Martin said Curtis did not witness the incident.
The ruling has been characterized as "completely and unequivocally unacceptable" in a blog posting by the American Atheists.That group released what it said was audio of Martin lecturing Perce about religious tolerance.
"That a Muslim immigrant can assault a United States citizen in defense 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," the posting reads. " … I can promise you this, you have not heard the last of this issue. Not by a long shot."