February 28th, 2012
09:46 AM ET

Judge’s dismissal of atheist's harassment claim against Muslim makes waves

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN

(CNN) - A protester who ridiculed the Muslim prophet Mohammed claims he was assaulted by a Muslim who was offended by the stunt, but a judge has sympathized with the alleged perpetrator, in a case that has drawn national attention.

Self-proclaimed atheist Ernie Perce marched in a Halloween parade in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania last October, dressed in a costume mocking Mohammed.

In a YouTube video he posted, Perce can be seen wearing a long fake beard, a white turban and green face paint, calling out provocative phrases like: "I am the prophet Mohammed! Zombie from the dead!" Perce and someone else in a zombie-themed pope costume are carrying a banner that reads "The Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania / Ghoulish – Godless – God-Awful."

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Then a man who is not seen on the video can be heard saying, "Take it down." Amid sounds of a scuffle, Perce can be heard saying "Hey, he's attacking me!"

Perce told CNN affiliate WHTM that the man “grabbed me, choked me from the back, and spun me around, to try to get my sign off that was wrapped around my neck."

Based on Perce's complaint, a Muslim named Talaag Elbayomy was charged with harassment. But on December 6, District Judge Mark Martin dismissed the case, saying it was one person's word against another's, and that there was no other evidence or eyewitness testimony to prove that Elbayomy had harassed or touched the alleged victim.

The judge also scolded Perce, saying he’d been needlessly provocative on an issue sensitive with Muslims.

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"You have that right, but you're way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights," Martin said, according to a recording Perce made of the court hearing. "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 judge went on to point out that in many Muslim countries, ridiculing Mohammed could warrant the death penalty under Islamic law.

Critics say Martin's lecture shows he used Muslim cultural grounds to excuse a deplorable assault, and failed to defend an atheist's First Amendment rights.

"That's greatly disturbing to people that believe in free speech," said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. "You can say things that are hurtful to others. We hope that you don't, but you most certainly can be protected. People like Thomas Paine spent his entire life ticking off people across the colonies."

Former terrorism prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, writing on the blog of National Review, accused the judge of allowing the Muslim suspect to invoke a "Sharia defense – what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed."

And Perce said of Judge Martin, "He let a man who is Muslim, because of his preference of his culture and his way of life, walk free, from an attack."

The judge, in a phone interview with CNN, defended his ruling.

"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."

Martin added that he has served three tours of duty, totaling more than two years, in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he learned more about Muslim culture.

"It just amazes me that people think that I'm biased towards Islam," he added. "I got sniped at once, I got ambushed once, I got attacked by a mob once... I've served close to 27 years in the military - and have gone overseas - exactly to preserve that right [freedom of speech.]”

But Martin also repeated his criticism of the atheist protester. "With rights come responsibilities. The more people abuse our rights, the more likely that we're going to lose them," he said. " We need to start policing up our own actions, using common sense, in how we deal with others."

Attorney R. Mark Thomas, who represented the Muslim suspect, blamed Perce for the Halloween altercation. "The so-called victim was the antagonist," he told WHTM. "I think this was a good dressing down by the judge."

A blog post by the group American Atheists disagrees. "That a Muslim immigrant can assault a United States citizen,” it says, “in defense of his religious beliefs and walk away a free man, while the victim is chastised and insulted... is a horrible abrogation."

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Halloween • Islam • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (2,453 Responses)
  1. CosmicC

    If you remove atheist and replace it with any other religion, the judge would not have issued the scolding. That makes it a 1st amendment violation.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  2. GATX99

    I am an athiest and I agree with the judge. First Amendment or not, dressing up as a "zombie Muhammed" was a disgusting, deplorable way to express his feelings about a certain religion, and I can only hope that any appeal he brings forth will be tossed out of court. I may not believe in god(s), but I do believe in human decency and morality. This man has neither of those.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • truesoy

      You are not an atheist, and I doubt your motives.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Elspeth

      The United States Supreme Court has already made clear, we do not live in a polite society and the restrictions on the 1st Amendment cannot include prohibiting or punishing someone from speaking (and yes dress is a form of speech) because someone else might be or in fact is offended. In this country, you have to accept that people exercising their 1st Amendment right, like YOU, will say dumb things, annoying things, offensive things, and even hurtful things and that you don't get to punish them for it. Only inciting someone to riot (and incite means TELL as in saying "go forth and burn down city hall") or causing public panic without cause (yelling "Fire!" in a crowed theater when there is no fire) may be prohibited. Dressing up in costume, even disgusting or religiously offensive parodying the most revered figure in that religion costume, is PROTECTED speech.

      The judge was wrong. there will be consequences for him.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Elspeth

      Case in point, the United States Supreme Court struck down a state law that prohibited a particular church membership from demonstrating and saying very hurtful things at the burials of troops and even innocent little girls (the little girl murdered in the Tucson shooting that injured Giffords) as being an unlawful restriction on 1st Amendment rights.

      If the Westboro church can tell the family of a dead little girl on they day they bury her and at her grave sit taht she deserved to die because the US is a Satan worshiping country and God is punishing us...then this man has EVERY RIGHT to dress up as a Zombie Muhammad and not be assaulted for it nor be chastized by a judge for it.

      The fact that the judge brags about serving multiple tours in the middle east strongly suggests to me that he was either brainwashed over there or converted. In either case, his bias was made clear in this case and he should have recused himself. Since he did not, he violated the judicial cannon of ethics and unless his superiors are themselves 100% corrupted they will punish him.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • W247

      Elspeth – I am going to have to agree with you on this one!!!!

      February 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  3. waner

    I think the judge was incorrect in his decision. I read this story yesterday (on a different site @ http://jonathanturley.org/2012/02/24/pennsylvania-judge-throws-out-charge-for-harassing-atheist-while-calling-the-victim-a-doofus/ ) and it seems that some information is not in the CNN story compared to the other website, like how the judge says he is a Muslim, but then recanted and said he is a Lutheran. In the link above, there is a video where the judge says he is Muslim. Also, per the linked story above, the judge calls the atheist individual a "doofus" because of what he did....and ya, I think it is silly to do what the atheist dressed as Mohammed did, but I think the judge should choose his words more carefully.

    It's unfortunate that someone like this judge is in the position that he is in and can make rulings like this...granted, my understanding is that this judge only deals with small-time cases, like traffic violations and such, but I don't think he should be on the bench. And if anyone would like, here is the address to send any mail to the judge from the story above:

    Judge Mark Martin
    507 N York St
    Mechanicsburg, PA

    The address noted above is from the link I provided and can be obtained from the video in said link.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  4. Wayne

    I don't know why people still continue to amaze me with their stupidity. They think that freedom of speech and religion give them free reign to do anything they want. I seriously doubt that's what the Founding Fathers intended. Freedom of religion gives all Americans the right to worship in whatever manner they want without fear of recrimination. Freedom of speech does not mean that other idiots get to come along and say "Ooh, you believe in ? Well, you're wrong and that makes you an idiot." Mr. Atheist should ask himself how he would like it if the Baptists paraded on his block with signs that told him he was going to hell for not believing in Christ.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Zero Gods

      Part of being an American is putting up with displays/protests that we don't agree with. Violence is never the right response.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Rhubarb

      "Freedom of speech does not mean that other idiots get to come along and say "Ooh, you believe in ? Well, you're wrong and that makes you an idiot."

      No, that's EXACTLY what freedom of speech guarantees !! Precisely because there's no telling who will be offended by what. In other words, since SOMEONE will ALWAYS be offended by any particular speech, freedom of speech would need to be abolished entirely to make sure no on is ever offended by anything.

      Therefore, your comment makes no logical sense whatsoever.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Heroicslug

      You don't understand freedom of speech very well.

      I'm perfectly within my rights to tell you that if you believe in gods, Santa Claus, or elves, you are either stupid or gullible.

      My statement is both legal and true. If you don't agree with it, you are free to say anything you wish in response.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • BRC

      Fringe religious groups do that all the time (it seems you dont' spend much time in bible belt). Atheists (and more moderate believers) tend to react by making funny signs and standing with them, or by asking them questions they can't answer. They don't walk up and start fighting/trying to take away their signs. interesting that we dirty Atheists take the time to show that sort of control. I can almost guarantee that every atheist who has made their view public has been told they're going to hell at least once. Most of them say "unlikely, I don't believe it exists", the witty ones say "isn't that a town in Montana?"

      Freedom means exactly what it means, I am free to believe what I want, and say what I want, so long as my statements or beliefs don't harm others or take away from their ability to enjoy their freedoms. IT isn't always pretty, but it's the way it needs to work.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • alcoholiday

      I see that type of crap from christians all the time

      February 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • truesoy

      Freedom of speech is freedom of speech even if it offends another person.
      There'll be no freedom if people can stop you from saying things they consider offensive. just think about it for a moment. Think what it would be like if some people would feel offended by your comments and were justified to act violently against you.
      Just food for thought.


      February 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Scott_in Pgh

      Actually freedom of speech means you can come and say what ever you want to anyone, with the exception of causing immdiate harm (as in yelling "fire" in a crowded room if no fire exists), or to threaten others with immediate harm. As nice as it might be to be able to place a limit on people saying stupid and inflamitory things, the problem is this- who makes the determination for what's over the line?

      Our "leaders" from both parties have shown that they can not be trusted with the power they already have, giving the government & courts any control over what's ok to say would be a nightmare scenario.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  5. TheRationale

    "you're way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights"

    So basically he's saying it's acceptable to attack someone if your Muslim and you get offended.

    Not one of those spine-toting judges I see, at least in the court room. There may well have been little evidence to go on, but his comments show him to me a small man indeed.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  6. TomTom

    Hey, if you are gonna start problems, you better be able to handle yourself. This guy wanted the attention and when he got a fist, he was unable to protect himself. Don't go looking for trouble if you don't want any. The judge knew he deserved what he got.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Absolutely

      The lesson here: free speech is not for assholes.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Heroicslug


      No, no, no... Free speech is for everyone.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Don

      I agree that he needed to protect himself. Obviously, the "victim" was a wimp that had to go crying to the authorities. This case should never have made it to court, and wouldn't have, if the guy "protected" himself. Were I in the same situation, I would defend myself. The perp wouldn't spend too long in the hospital.

      February 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  7. Mike

    I can't disagree with the judge. He said there was not enough evidence to proceed. Had anyone else been there to substantiate either side I think the case would have proceeded. My wife had a similar experience in being charged with harassment. A customer at her store said she pushed him. He called the cops and they came to our house and arrested her based only on his word. Arrested in this case meant she was issued a summons to appear in court, she was not cuffed. Well the store's video equipment showed clearly she was never close enough to touch the guy. He was just p****d because his eggs were not right (and she offered to comp the damn ticket!). On the day of the opening hearing, guess who never showed! I wanted the police to issue HIM a summons for harrassing her but they wouldn't do it. If we allow the legal system to be he (she) says vs he (she) says, we will waste a lot of time. Some cases call for the efforts anyway due to their seriousness, but this one? I believe the guy probably was assaulted...but what about the people around him? Why didn't they stand up for him? They probably though he got what he deserved. That's not fair, but people don't take responsibility for their actions any more. there HAS to be a level of common sense. I think he got done to him what I'd like to see happen to the Westboro folks when they protest a soldier's funeral! Except, I'm not going to stoop to that level.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • KilgoreT59

      Well said Mike. The judge ruled according to the evidence at hand, no bias or any nefarious intent. Plus, he did give a good civics lesson. With freedom of speech comes responsibility. His military service also provided him with a first-hand perspective that not all of us have.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  8. Michigan

    Another guy in the same video is seen dressed as a pope with offensive comments, If a Catholic would have attacked that guy mocking the pope the outcome would have been different. This case sends out the wrong message.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Guest

      Not the case itself but the way the judge handled this is sending the wrong message.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  9. Guest

    I was wondering if the judge might be considering incitement. I found this, so I think not:

    According to 18 USCS § 2102 "to incite a riot", or "to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot", includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.”

    February 28, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  10. is this appealable

    If there's no evidence of an assault, then the judge was right to dismiss the case. But the question is, does his lecture of the Perce regarding free speech become a part of the ruling, and does this make the case susceptible to appeal on the grounds of violation of first amendment rights?

    Fighting words are not protected speech. They are also not defined anywhere. So If anyone knows if this case can be appealed, I'd love a reply.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • truesoy

      I too question the judge's motive.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Dan. M

      Fighting words? Against who, muhammad?

      Zombie muhammad (and zombie pope for that matter) were not directed at any individual. It was an expression directed at religion. You can't have "fight words" against ideology.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  11. sparks

    "With rights come responsibilities. The more people abuse our rights, the more likely that we're going to lose them," he said. " We need to start policing up our own actions, using common sense, in how we deal with others."

    Excellent statement, Judge.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • TheRationale

      Which should start with no tolerance for violence against people within their First Amendment rights, which this man clearly was. The judge is a coward and a fool for saying otherwise.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Dan. M

      Who judges abusive speech? Who judges irresponsible speech?

      That's the whole point of free speech. It is IMPOSSIBLE to judge offensive speech because everyone has different opinions on what is offensive and what is not. It's an impossible standard to meet. Anyone can claim to be offended by any comments made by another.

      The reason we have the freedom of speech is because you have the RIGHT to express your opinion, but you DON'T have the right not to be offended. There is no 'freedom from offense'.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  12. Robert Joseph Jr.

    The judge was correct in his decision. There was insufficient evidence for either side. The person drssing in the parade provided a provocaitve gesture. He asked for what he got. People have got to stop oscracizing ALL minorities, or those they disagree with. There is a responsibility that comes with our freedoms, to execute them wisely and carefully. Making fun of a religion is akin to making fun of a black man, or a disabled person. Totally uncalled for. If he were making fun of people like me (am hearing challenged), I would have done far more damange to the costumed person than the Muslim who protested the costume. We need to all stop picking on each other, if you are a Christian, this display is truly catastrophic. Remember, your faith says love all. Remember that. No the costume person was totally wrong. He was most fortunate indeed to have survived the incident, and be grateful it was not me protesting him. I am by the way an Espiscopalian. I love all peoples. And..each of us regardles of faith, race, or creed have one GREAT equalizer...each of us are a heart beat from ending our lives. Let's be tolerant of all, and live a little bit longer. Peace...RTJJR.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Scott_in Pgh

      So, just to be clear-
      Picking on someone because they are different = a horrible thing that justifies a violent act in retaliation? Offending someone's personal point of view is grounds for a physical assult?

      Most of us will agree that this man's mocking display was foolish, insulting, and the act of someone with a judgement issue, but justifying any violent act in response to mockery is the sign of a much bigger problem.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • D Russell

      RE: "If he were making fun of people like me (am hearing challenged), I would have done far more damange to the costumed person than the Muslim who protested the costume."

      Gandi once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

      February 28, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Ray From New Orleans

      You are one of the main reasons I abhor religion and religious people.You so-called christians are so intolerant of other peoples views int's not even funny.The guy who dressed up wasn't asking to be attacked.He was marching in a Halloween parade and trying to be satirical about it. Thats what happens in those parades.you go onto say that we should all love each other but then in the next breath you say that the guy is lucky it wasn't you doing the attacking?..you think you have the right to attack someone simply because they said something to you that you don't like? You sir are a true hypocrite and should be ashamed of yourself.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Rhubarb

      @ Robert Joseph Jr.:

      So, you would've done "far more damage" if the guy made fun of you...and you then tell everyone else to be more tolerant of each other and close your message with the word "PEACE" ???

      Amazing. I just sit here, slowly shaking my head.....

      February 29, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  13. Matt

    OldGoat: I agree with you, 100%, the judge made an incorrect decision. Sorry I didn't get that out there, the greater point I was trying to make was, "why would you (the guy who dressed like Mohammad) even do that"? Is it due to some blatant disregard for others? He wasn't looking to get beat up and nor should he, BUT, it baffles me when it appears that people do things just to provoke others.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  14. Art

    Sounds like the judge just doesn't like atheists. One of those "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" situations. The judge probably doesn't like Muslims, either, but he likes atheists even less, so in this case, he has to side with the Muslim. The Muslim at least believes in God, right? It's that whole thing about how with "matters of faith," no matter how absurd they are, you're just never allowed to disrespect them, because they're, well, matters of faith! And if, as a Christian, he shows respect for outrageous behavior on the part of a Muslim, then that bolsters his case for his own ridiculous beliefs and behaviors to be taken seriously. That is the subtext. But of course, on the face of it, he threw the case out because of lack of evidence. There's no religious intolerance here! No need to separate church and state here! Better go look someplace else.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  15. Jimbo

    Looks like the Muslims are winning the battle and their extreme acts are working and persuading our government to bow to them. I guess terrorism really works when you have judges like this.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • GodisNot

      They will win...I have no doubt. Give it enough time.

      February 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  16. Whynot

    The Judge was correct, he is well within his right to wear said costume. The judge was also correct in saying he did not exercise responsibility wearing that costume. This article is a great example of what is wrong with our society. If you KNOWINGLY antagonize any person or group of people, what do you think is going to happen!?!?!?! You want to poke bears and when they react you want to blame the bear?

    February 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Art

      I think we hold people to a higher standard of behavior than bears. People, of whatever faith, are expected to know and follow the laws. Bears are not. Also, wearing a costume and carrying a sign is not the same as poking. If you poke someone, you can expect them to react in a physical way to protect themselves, and they are within their rights to do so. If you wear a provocative costume, the worst you should expect, according to the law, is verbal abuse in response.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Whynot

      Ok Art, I understand what you are saying, but are you honestly telling me if you did that you would have no notion of somebody reacting in this way? And I will amend my example....if you play with fire since you clearly take everything literally. What has happend to the days when judges and cops would call you an idiot and send you on your way, not arrest somebody for a knee jerk reaction that WAS CLEARLY PROVOKED

      February 28, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • BRC

      Actually, teh way our system is supposed to work, is that you can make people angry all day, they still aren't allowed to physically harm you. There are legal measures to take if you disagree with what someone is saying or doing, we are supposed to be a more civilized, more evolved culture and nation. "You're not respecting my beliefs, so I'm going to attack you" is NEVER acceptable. WORDS do not equal ACTIONS. And noone has to respect anyone else's belief, you just have to allow them to express and practice it unhindered.

      My two cents, had I been there, and if there was actually an assault, I would have pulled the attacker off him, and made sure he kept his distance. I would do the same if an atheist was attacking a Christian or a Jew was attacking a Buddhist. We're supposed to be better, we must be better.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Whynot

      BRC, exactly and that would be the end of it right there. I would react the same way, Actuall did react the same way about two weeks ago, a fight broke out at a soccer game I was playing in, all because one person was insulting another team...no charges pressed, we all knew that somebody stepped over the line. That was the end of it right there, after the game the two guys were talking and everybody left once cooler heads prevailed. In my book no harm done.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Art

      I'm taking you literally because it's important to distinguish the literal meaning of "poking" or "playing with fire" from the action of provoking someone with a costume. Sure, poking and costume wearing are both kinds of provocation, and one can expect a response, but in the one case you can expect a physical response, which would be within the bounds of law, and in the other you can expect a verbal response, within the bounds of law. Since we're talking about a legal case here, it seems to me an important distinction to make. And as far as going back to the days of judges and cops deciding whether a case was worthy of the courts based on their own personal feelings, rather than the laws, well, it seems those days are not quite behind us yet. Which is a shame, since we're supposed to be a country ruled by laws, rather than by the whims of authority figures.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Rhubarb

      IN OTHER WORDS, "WhyNot", If someone reading this blog were offended by YOUR blog comments – using your deluded standard of provocation and retribution as applied at the soccor game – then they'd have the right to beat the tar out of YOU. And, of course, to not appear hypocritical, you'd have to just stand there and let them.

      You represent the very flower of a self-deceived generation.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  17. Zero Gods

    It's unfortunate that there wasn't enough evidence - if Perce was attacked by Elbayomy, then Elbayomy justly belongs in prison. But the judge's comments highlight an interesting tension between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Which right do Americans value more highly? Personally, I value freedom of speech more highly than freedom of religion, and I think the judge's comments were inappropriate. The comments would have been a great way to address US atheists who pulled this stunt in a Muslim country. But not here. If certain religious people can't live in peace with those who would mock religious figures, then they ought to move to a country more aligned with their beliefs.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Johnny

      Why do you feel the need to defend someone for being a jerk?

      February 28, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • BRC

      Because in this country we have the right to be jerks. The specifics aren;t the important thing, the principle is.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  18. TAK

    Just proves that in this country the most rational among us (atheists) are viewed with more contempt than terrorists. And the guy IS a terrorist in my book. He resorted to violence to defend/promote his dogma. If the guy in the Mohammed suit had been a christian then the muslim would be in Gitmo right now.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Whynot

      This is one of the dumbest arguments I have ever read.

      February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  19. Bigotbuster

    "That's greatly disturbing to people that believe in free speech," said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. "You can say things that are hurtful to others. We hope that you don't, but you most certainly can be protected. People like Thomas Paine spent his entire life ticking off people across the colonies."


    A law professor should know that only evidence, no personal feelings, has value in the court of law. Nobody cares about the feelings of a lawyer.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  20. Techie

    Ernie Perce is clearly out to get attention and according to the judge didn't present a strong enough case against the other person. Why are we so hell bent to Ernie, "I am the prophet Mohammed! Zombie from the dead!" ,Perce's word over a bystander? If you have additional evidence against the bystander present it. Ernie just looks like an attention seeker from this report though.

    February 28, 2012 at 11:41 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.