The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

N.J. Governor: ‘This Shariah Law Business is Crap’

By Robert Steinback on August 4, 2011 - 5:23 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday slammed the anti-Muslim “crazies” who have raised objections to his nomination of a Muslim lawyer to become a state Superior Court judge.

“Ignorance is behind the criticism of Sohail Mohammad,” Christie said in response to a reporter’s question at a Thursday press conference. “Sohail Mohammad is an extraordinary American who is an outstanding lawyer and played an integral role in the post-September 11th period in building bridges between the Muslim American community in this state and law enforcement.

“I was there for it,” Christie continued. “I saw it personally. And the folks who criticize my appointment of Sohail Mohammad are ignorant, absolutely ignorant of that, and they’re criticizing him because he is a Muslim American, and because he represented people who were inappropriately detained by the FBI post 9/11.”

Critics have used the very track record Christie cited to depict Mohammad, an Indian-American, as a radical unfit for the bench. Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism in January derided Mohammad as a “longtime mouthpiece for radical Islamists.” Emerson traced Mohammad’s career back to his work as an immigration lawyer on behalf of Arab men who were detained after 9/11, then cleared by the FBI of any terrorism-related charges – only to be kept in custody on immigration charges. In November 2001, Mohammad’s clients threatened to start a hunger strike to protest their continued detention during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Emerson’s critique also noted that one of Mohammad’s clients was Mohammad Ahmad Hasan Qatanani, imam of one of New Jersey’s largest mosques, accused by the U.S. government of having once been a member of the terrorist organization Hamas. A judge sided with Qatanani and granted him permanent residency, although the case is still under appeal.

Nothing in Emerson’s report suggested that Mohammad did anything personally, or in his capacity as counsel, that might disqualify him for a judgeship.

Christie pointed out that many people were wrongly arrested during that time, and that none of Mohammad’s post-9/11 clients were charged with crimes of terrorism. Christie added that Mohammad set up “dozens of meetings” between government and law enforcement officials and members of the Muslim-American community to build lines of trust.

A reporter asked Christie a question about Shariah law, which only fired up the governor’s frustration. “Shariah law has nothing to do with this at all. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. The guy is an American citizen … and has never been accused of doing anything but honorably and zealously acquitting the oath he took when he became a lawyer. … This Shariah law business is crap. It’s just crazy. And I’m tired of dealing with the crazies. It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background. … I’m happy that he’s willing to serve after all this baloney.”

  • Robert Steinback

    To A.D.M.

    Thank you for the understandable question about our choice of video link; we’ve changed it to a friendly site.

    When I posted the blog yesterday, I linked to the first site I found that had the video up, which happened to be that one. My immediate concern was to make sure readers could see the video for themselves. That urgency has passed, and there are better options available. Thanks for the alert!

    Robert Steinback
    Deputy Editor, Hatewatch blog

  • skinnyminny

    Jonas Rand,
    I think the most important thing about Christie’s statement, he admitted people were wrongfully detained after 9-11. That means the lawsuits will begin, and few heads will roll, all in the international spotlight. LOL! Some of these people better hope they are not tried in the international courts, because they may find leniency there (ICC), depending on who else they tried to bully in the past, and because we’re losing favor in the world, they will never be able to cover-up/hide from the accusations.

  • A.D.M.

    Nice job, Christie, for standing up to the crazies who zealously paint all Muslims with one brush. Although, you have destroyed any chance you had at becoming a Republican candidate for the presidency. But who cares about that since you say you’re not running? You did a very noble thing.

    By the way, SPLC, why did you link to the The Blaze?

  • Jonas Rand

    This sonofabitch probably likes shari’ah (how he thinks shari’ah works, anyway), because if he had his way, gays would probably be killed in public. He authorized warrantless wiretapping, too.

  • skinnyminny

    This is very interesting, I may add! Not sure if the constant pressures from the right is causing his recent health scares, but so far so good.

    This is something I am interested in, please note, I’m not a fan of the conservative website judicial watch dot org. But, this is something I was wondering if it is true or not, a story, “Extremist Hispanic Group Releases Racist Death Threat Video Attacking Black Civil Rights Activist Ted Hayes,” 3-23-2011 at the judicial watch site. I’m wondering if this is true, why wasn’t the public at large notified about this in light of what happened in Califas, gangs targeted blacks. This video/pictures linked at this site allegedly targets white and black Americans. The video is shocking in that it has a noose, racial slurs…and was allegedly done because Hayes didn’t want illegal immigrants receiving taxpayer benefits – education, public benefits…

  • Leslie

    If those who are afraid of Sharia law would support strengthening the separation of church and state they would have nothing to worry about. This will never happen because they want to force their own religion on everyone else.

  • Reynardine

    Amen. I’m not that crazy about Governor Christie, but because of his stance in this case, if the Jersey air ever gets to him, he deserves a beneficial helping of Snot Nose Chutney (q.v.)

  • Aron Levy

    I never thought I would say this, but good on Gov. Christie! I’m actuality quite impressed that ge hasn’t pandered to the anti-Muslim right-wing base.

    That being said, he still has a long way to go before he earns my respect. His record on education is beyond atrocious.