Tuesday, February 28, 2012

USA: 'Zombie' case in Mechanicsburg sparks misguided debate about Muslims

"They are hijacking Islam. The same thing happened on 9/11. They didn’t just hijack the airplanes. They hijacked our religion also.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: The Patriot-New
By Diana Fishlock | February 27, 2012

The 'Zombie' had his day in court, and now he’s gone viral.

Cumberland County District Judge Mark Martin dismissed a harassment charge against 46-year-old Talaag Elbayomy of Mechanicsburg for allegedly attacking Ernest Perce V of the Parading Atheists of Central PA for dressing as "Zombie Muhammad" during an Oct. 11 Halloween parade.

Martin said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Elbayomy.

Since then, a YouTube video playing an audio recording from the hearing alleges the judge says he is Muslim -- although he could be saying "if I were" Muslim or something else entirely -- and cites that as the reason for the dismissal of charges. A Yahoo news story picked up on the video through a blog, sparking national responses calling for Martin's dismissal as an “activist judge” and saying as a Muslim he was biased.

Martin is a Lutheran, he said. He is dismayed his actions were grossly misrepresented. “People shouldn’t believe everything they read on the Internet,” he said. “They should analyze news with a grain of salt.”
video-mechanicsburg-case.jpgView full sizeImage from a video showing the atheists' group walk in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade.

Martin has fielded calls from national media, including CNN, Fox News and the Associated Press.
“This seems like one of those cases where people are reading into it whatever they want to read into it, as is so often the case,” said Jeffrey W. Robbins, chairman of the religion and philosophy department at Lebanon Valley College. People are viewing this case in the culture wars about activist judges or religious fanaticism or secular hostility to religion, he said. “In some ways it’s like a perfect storm playing into so many of those narratives.”

It’s upsetting when Muslims attack people, said Akram Khalid, president of the central Pennsylvania Ahmadiyya Muslim community. “They are hijacking Islam. The same thing happened on 9/11. They didn’t just hijack the airplanes. They hijacked our religion also.”

Instead, Muslims should live peacefully with their neighbors, Khalid said.

Matthew Kemeny of The Patriot-News contributed to this report

Read original post here: "The Zombie Muhammad" had his day in court, and now he’s gone viral.

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