CAIR’s Altaf Ali is seething about the questioning on Islam by Judge Marcia Cooke. But he shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Cooke, who has already stated, before the trial even began, that the feds’ case is “light on facts,” is apparently trying to make sure that no one is prejudiced against Abdullah al-Muhajir (a.k.a. Jose Padilla) because he is a Muslim. Probably her line of questioning was one that Altaf Ali should have welcomed, as it will likely fill the jury with people who believe that Islam is a religion of peace, hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. One hopes they will not be so disconnected from reality that they will be unable to evaluate whether or not al-Muhajir, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi really conspired to “murder, kidnap and maim” people.
“Padilla jury selection starts in Miami terror trial,” by Vanessa Blum in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Miami Â· The toughest questions were about Islam.
Did the potential jurors view it as a violent religion? Do they think Muslims are more prone to commit crimes? Would potential jurors be able to distinguish between religious devotion and support for terrorism?
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke’s probing questions came on the first day of jury selection in the trial of accused al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla. They were meant to ensure jurors reach a verdict of guilt or innocence based on evidence, not biases or stereotypes.
Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face charges they took part in a conspiracy to “murder, kidnap and maim” people overseas. Prosecutors say the defendants sent money, supplies and recruits to support radical Islamic groups waging holy war. The men, all Muslim, have pleaded not guilty.
The hearing gave a rare glimpse into the candid views of Americans on religion and terror in the wake of the 9-11 attacks and the ongoing Iraq war.
“I do think for their god, they would give their lives,” said one man. “That is not 100 percent of them I’m sure, but I have heard that said.”
Another said he believed only an extremist element of the Islamic faith advocates violence.
“I respect the good Muslim as much as I do the good Christian or good Jew,” he said….
Altaf Ali, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, called it a “travesty” that a defendant’s religion would take center stage in the courtroom.
“When you put someone on trial, it’s not their religion on trial,” Ali said.
In cases involving allegations of terrorism, Ali said he recognized the need to screen for biases in a case involving terrorism. Arabic words like “jihad” often evoke negative connotations, he said….
Yes, Mr. Ali. You might want to speak with Mr. bin Laden about that.
The Miami case does not mention the primary accusation against Padilla at that time: that he wanted to detonate a radioactive “dirty” bomb on U.S. soil.
In a measure signaling the heightened security around the case, guards looked through the bags of spectators and scanned individuals entering the courtroom with a metal detector….