CAIR to File Complaint Over MN Judge’s Questioning on ‘Sharia’

“It is misguided and unethical for a judge to reference an individual’s general support of mainstream Islamic principles, known as Sharia, during sentencing to determine a defendant’s future dangerousness,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “By also linking modest dress to a propensity for violence, the judge revealed a disturbing bias that may have impacted his decisions in this case and his sentencing of the defendants.”

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/17/13) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said today that it plans to file a complaint against a Minnesota judge who inappropriately questioned defendants on their religious beliefs and equated mainstream Islamic principles with terrorism.

Before sentencing two Muslim women to lengthy prison terms yesterday, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis asked each woman if she supported “jihad, suicide bombings and Sharia law.” Judge Davis also asked, “Does she understand there are some Muslim women who wear dresses or short skirts?” Davis said he was trying to decide whether the defendants would “support terrorist causes” when they are released from prison. The questions reportedly drew audible reactions in a courtroom packed with Muslim spectators.

SEE: 2 Minnesota Women Sentenced in Somali Terror Case (MPR)

“It is misguided and unethical for a judge to reference an individual’s general support of mainstream Islamic principles, known as Sharia, during sentencing to determine a defendant’s future dangerousness,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “By also linking modest dress to a propensity for violence, the judge revealed a disturbing bias that may have impacted his decisions in this case and his sentencing of the defendants.”

Abbas said CAIR would file a complaint based on the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364, and Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings, 248 F.R.D. 674 (2008).

In this Aug. 5, 2010 file photo, Hawo Mohamed Hassan, left, and Amina Farah Ali, both of Rochester, Minn., leave the U.S. District Court after appearing at a hearing in St Paul, Minn. A jury on Thursday convicted the two women of funneling money to a terrorist group in Somalia. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig, File)

He added that CAIR’s complaint will not deal with the specifics of the cases or the charges against the defendants, but with the action of the judge in inappropriately questioning the defendants on their views about Sharia and modest attire, both of which are irrelevant to their cases.

SEE: Filing a Complaint of Judicial Misconduct

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425,gabbas@cair.com; CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya,612-327-6700lsaroya@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,ihooper@cair.com.

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