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Council on American-Islamic Relations to file complaint against judge in Amina Ali and Hawo Hassan case

By staff

Washington, DC – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said on May 17 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.

Judge Michael J. Davis handed down a 20-year sentence for Amina Ali and a 10-year sentence for Hawo Hassan. Both are well respected humanitarian workers. Hundreds of supporters from the Somali community in Minnesota came to the sentencing hearing.

Before sentencing the two Muslim women to prison May 16, 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.

“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.”

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.

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