On 24 July 2017, fake news site AsAmericanAsApplePie.org published a story reporting that a Muslim federal judge named “Mahal al Alallaha-Smith” had imposed “two items” of sharia law (which are religious codes governing conduct within Muslim communities) in the United States.
The article seems crafted to exploit a conspiracy theory among those who fear practitioners of Islam that sharia law is “creeping” into U.S. court systems, and that it will soon be forced upon American citizens as the new law of the land. However, the article is made up entirely of falsehoods — including a digitally manipulated image of an actual Los Angeles Superior Court judge with a fake name superimposed over his actual name and, of course, a fabricated quote attributed to him:
Judge Mahal al Alallaha-Smith of the 22nd District Federal Court of Appeals ruled this morning that two “critical issues for Muslims” in Sharia Law had to be abided by in the United States court system because of the systematic infusion clause and because the 14th Amendment guarantees them the rights guaranteed by other states. …
The items Judge Alallaha-Smith refers to are:
-A man who finds his Godly wife in the arms of another may beat her in a non-life-threatening manner as prescribed by the Koran. The punishment of death for laying with another man in her own bed cannot be enforced on American soil, but the woman can be beaten daily for a period of ten years.
-A family in need of expansion shall allow the marriage of first cousins for one generation as prescribed by the Koran. Women in those families can marry as young as 9 but won’t be allowed to consummate until they hit maturity as prescribed in the Koran.
Until this is fast-tracked to the Supreme Court, which can sometimes take years, Muslim women in America will be at risk.
After a quick inspection of the web site’s own “About” page, the fictional content should be no surprise. It reveals that AsAmericanAsApplePie.org is not a reliable source of information — in fact, if one scrolls down far enough it is finally apparent that the page labels itself as satire:
When no one can trust the lying fake news liberal media anymore because they hate us and guns and Harley Davidson and meat and OUR president, As American as Apple Pie is here to be your beacon of something you can kinda rely on sometimes but not really.
The image the site uses to represent Judge Mahal al Alallaha-Smith is stolen from a CNN report about a real person — Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina. Court spokeswoman Mary Hearn pointed out that Dhanidina is not a federal judge, but rather a sitting judge for the Los Angeles Superior Court, which is “a trial court for the state of California… California trial courts hear state matters, not federal.”
Further, the nomenclature used by AsAmericanAsApplePie.org for the Court of Appeals is incorrect, as no “22nd District Court of Appeals” exists. The appellate courts are organized into twelve regional circuits and one federal circuit. There is also no “systematic infusion clause”, whatever that means, to any amendment in the U.S. Constitution. (The 14th Amendment mostly deals with issues relating to citizenship, not religious beliefs.)
Finally, laws dictating the legality of marriages between cousins are determined at the state level. We could find no evidence to support the idea that a new legal statute has been implemented in which criminally assaulting a woman would be legally permissible because of her husband’s supposed religious beliefs.
The article is made up of a series of fabricated claims by a satire site and is not based on any fact whatsoever — the image, name and quotes from the alleged “Muslim judge” were all falsely presented, and his alleged occupation on the “22nd District Court of Appeals” is made up. In fact Dhanidina, the real judge featured by CNN in 2016, specifically said his religious beliefs have no bearing on how he performs his role in the justice system.
The writer of the fake article, in keeping with the theme of this satire site, uses the name “Flagg Eagleton“. Other fake news items authored by Flagg include an article reporting that North Korea’s autocratic leader Kim Jong Un was killed in a bomb drop ordered by President Donald Trump and another reporting that a crowd cheered outside a hospital as Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton “takes her last breath.”
The lack of facts has not stopped numerous people from credulously sharing the article and their own anti-Muslim sentiments along with it. One Fox News viewer took to Judge Jeanine Pirro’s fan page and wrote with alarm:
AMERICAN’S MUST OBJECT TO MUSLIM’S BEING ALLOWED INTO THE GOVERMENT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM !
WAKE UP AMERICA !!! HURRY
Judge Mahal al Alallaha-Smith of the 22nd District Federal Court of Appeals ruled this morning that two “critical issues for Muslims” in Sharia Law had to be abided by in the United States court system because of the systematic infusion clause
Commenters on the hoax site’s own Facebook page also seemed unaware of its status as a “satire and entertainment” site, with vitriolic responses calling for the (nonexistent) judge’s removal from his (fictional) position, and saying — predictably — that Muslim people should not be allowed to serve as judges in the United States.
AsAmericanAsApplePie.org gave their readers what they wanted a few days later, when they published an equally false report stating that President Trump had removed Judge Mahal al Alallaha-Smith from his position.
Eagleton, Flagg. “BREAKING: Trump Removes Muslim Federal Judge For Allowing Sharia In America.”
AsAmericanAsApplePie.org. 27 July 2017.
Eagleton, Flagg. “Muslim Federal Judge Rules Two Items of Sharia Law Legal.”
AsAmericanAsApplePie.org. 24 July 2017.
AWD News. “Muslim Federal Judge Rules Two Items of Sharia Law Legal.”
25 July 2017.
Lah, Kyung. “Being a Muslim Judge in the Age of Trump.”
CNN. 6 July 2016.
Fuchs, Chris. “Obama Nominates Possible First Muslim-American Judge to Federal Court.”
NBC News. 7 September 2016.
Cheney, Kyle. “Trump: Muslim Judge Might Not Be Fair to Me Either.”
Politico. 5 June 2016.