Sohail Mohammed was a lawyer for Muslims detained during the FBI roundups after 9/11; last week he became the second Muslim judge in New Jersey when he was sworn in by his mentor.
His swearing in and nomination came amidst intense criticism from conservative Islamophobes. Below is a video of Governor Chris Christie harshly responding to critics of his nomination, and citing Judge Sohail Mohammed as "An outstanding human being".
Sitting behind the bench in a packed courtroom in the Passaic County Courthouse, Mr. Mohammed told of how his journey to that spot in many ways centered around that very room.
It was in that courthouse where he took his oath of citizenship and where he served jury duty, which is what led him to abandon an engineering career and become a lawyer.
He spoke of how he is an example of the American dream, how he came to the country in 1980, and how his mother worked two jobs to support the family. He thanked Mr. Christie for being a friend.
"It's all part of the process," Mr. Mohammed said when asked about the criticism of his nomination.
Asaad Siddiqi, president of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association, said there was a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of Sharia law for Muslims in America—that it is cultural, rather than something that would subvert a judge's duty to uphold the law, constitution and precedents.
He said the criticism was similar to that levied at judicial nominations in other policy areas by opposition groups.
Mr. Siddiqi, who once worked opposite Mr. Mohammed in a dispute involving parents and a school board, described him as an intelligent and respected lawyer.
"We're a diverse state, and it's important to have a judiciary that reflects the members, the citizens of the state," Mr. Siddiqi said. "It's an important step forward for the state."
(hat tip Helena Cobban)
Initial publication of this piece included editor's error. Since corrected; apologies.