American Muslim organisations, including Indian American Muslim groups, have hailed New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie's staunch defence of his appointment of Sohail Mohammed as a Passaic County Superior Court judge. Christie called opponentsparticularly right wing conservativesof his nomination 'ignorant' and a bunch of 'crazies'.
These groups, who circulated the You Tube video of Christie's defence of Mohammed, exhorted its members to write, e-mail or call Christie's office and thank him for standing so strongly and unequivocally behind his appointment of Mohammed and dispelling the Islamophobic attacks against him.
Hyderabad-born Mohammed, who immigrated to the United States at the age of 10 with his parents, was sworn in on July 26 making him the first Indian American and second Muslim to join the bench in New Jersey after he was confirmed by the State senate on June 30. Christie had nominated him for judgeship in January.
At a news conference, Christie was asked about the criticism in some quarters about his nomination of Mohammed, particularly since the latter had defended some individuals arrested in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack, said, "Ignorance is behind the criticism of Sohail Mohammed."
"Sohail Mohammed is an extraordinary American, who is an outstanding lawyer, and played and integral role in the post September 11 period in building bridges between the Muslim community in this state and law enforcement," he said.
He asserted the criticism was partly because Mohammed "is a Muslim American and because he represented people who were inappropriately detained by the FBI post-9/11."
Christie pointed out that Mohammed was "the second Muslim American to be put on the bench for New Jersey and I am proud to have been able to do that. But not just because he is a Muslim American, I nominated Sohail Mohammed because he is a good lawyer and an outstanding human being."
When he was asked about the paranoia in some circles that Mohammed would attempt to promote or defend Islamic Sharia law, Christie said, "Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all... I am tired of dealing with the crazies." Christie asserted that it was unnecessary to accuse Mohammed just because of his religious background.
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations thanked Christie for his strong and rigorous defense of Mohammed. "We applaud Governor Christie for shining a spotlight on the tremendous contributions of Judge Sohail Mohammed," said CAIR-NJ Executive Director James Yee. "Governor Christie's praise highlights the commitment of American Muslims to building a better society. We hope the governor's comments will help stem the rising tide of Islamophobia in our society and help unify our nation."
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organisation.