How things change. Eighty years ago, Flemington, New Jersey’s courthouse (mothballed) and system was the scene of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial. Where will the country be eighty years from now? via Alimony reformers distance themselves from ‘anti-Muslim’ attack on Family Court judge | MyCentralJersey.com
Flemington – Calling comments about a Muslim state judge radical and extreme, several alimony reform activists on Saturday distanced themselves from a fathers’ rights advocate who accused a Family Court judge of imposing Sharia, or Islamic law, on alimony cases.
Bruce Eden, civil rights director of the state chapter of Dads Against Discrimination, said this week that Judge Hany Mawla, sitting in Flemington, is leading a “’jihad’ against men in general and fathers specifically.”
Eden called for “a ‘crusade’ to remove this vermin from the bench.”
The attack on Mawla, the state Superior Court’s first Muslim judge, was first reported Friday on MyCentralJersey.com and Saturday in the Courier News.
Eden issued his statement in response to the case of John Waldorf, who has been in Hunterdon County Jail since Oct. 17 for failing to make $8,000 monthly alimony payments to his former wife, a Califon resident. The alimony was set based on Waldorf’s previous job, which paid a higher salary than what he currently earns.
Tom Leustek, president N.J. Alimony Reform, said he understands “the frustration felt by Bruce and others who are the victims of these rulings,” but said that his group does not “endorse any expressions of bias based on religion, race, gender, sexual preference, or personal opinion.”
“We are not attacking an individual judge. It’s a system that needs to be changed,” Leustek said Saturday.
Debbie Frank, Waldorf’s girlfriend who has demonstrated several times outside the Hunterdon County Courthouse to protest the Family Court’s alimony rulings, also distanced herself from Eden, who informed her about his statement before releasing it.
“I don’t want to come off as a radical anti-Muslim. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to bring that into this. It’s a little scary,” she said Saturday. “I’m merely trying to get John out of jail and trying to get John some help.”
Eden’s comments were described on Friday as a slanderous “anti-Muslim rant” by Gadeir Abbas, staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
But Eden shrugged off criticism and doubled down on his belief that Mawla is following the Sharia practice of throwing private debtors in jail.
“I’ve been called a deadbeat, a woman hater, a wife beater, you name it. I don’t care if they want to accuse me of being racist,” he said Saturday.
“You can’t tell me (Mawla’s) religious beliefs are not influencing what he is doing here,” he added.
Reached at home on Saturday, Mawla declined to comment.
At 36, Mawla was one of the youngest nominees, and the first Muslim appointed, to state Superior Court in 2010.
He was born in New Jersey and lived in Egypt and Saudi Arabia with his parents when he was 8 to 15 years old, according to published profiles and interviews.
“The Arab-American community has traditionally encountered negative stereotypes,” he told a Rutgers alumni magazine in 2009. “I think my upbringing — both here and abroad — gave me a strong appreciation for different cultures.”
Mawla was appointed in 2008 by then-Gov. Jon S. Corzine to chair the state’s first Arab-American Heritage Commission and served on the Arab and Muslim Advisory Committee in the state Attorney General’s Office of Bias Crime and Community Relations.
Before becoming a judge, he was a partner in the Woodbridge law firm Greenbaum, Row, Smith and Davis and provided legal assistance to abused women at Women Against Family Abuse, or WAFA House, which was started to help women of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent.
Leustek said alimony rulings are based on antiquated case law determined by the state Supreme Court instead of lawmakers.
Legislators in Trenton have proposed creating a blue ribbon committee to study alimony. Another proposal being considered would allow judges to modify child support and alimony payments based on a parent’s change in employment and income.
“This is not a unique situation within Hunterdon,” he said. “It’s not a particular judge; it’s the law that needs to be changed to give judges clear guidelines about how they should handle divorce and post-divorce cases.”
Another article notes the defendant is required to pay more in alimony than he actually takes home after taxes. Wouldn’t a well-educated, multi-cultural, compassionate judge recognize that?
While this drama may be more about Eden getting his case media attention, and it’s working, Mawla has ties that should be known and has avidly pushed Islam and sharia in NJ:
Mawla said he and Davis devised the “Islamic Law and Jurisprudence” course at the University after Sept. 11, 2001, with the help of Abed Awad, an attorney who teaches at Rutgers School of Law-Newark.
Mawla said his involvement in Arab, Muslim and minority concerns is important to him because Arabs have called New Jersey home since 1870, and yet, in his view, they are not featured as prominently in the conversation in the state. He said law is a good way to give his community a voice.
“For me, it was an opportunity to make sure Arabs and Muslims are more a part of the political and civic discourse that occurs in the state,” Mawla said.
The attorney with whom Mawla devised the “Islamic Law and Jurisprudence” course – Abed Awad – defended a Hamas-supporting, terror-website-running, convicted tax-cheating imam among other clientele.