Accused Terrorist Demands Religious Law

A man accused of terrorism in Canada is demanding an attorney who will argue that he should be judged on the basis of the Quran rather than on the criminal law of that country. Surprisingly, he’s having a hard time finding one. One attorney quit as a result.

But Chiheb Esseghaier, accused of being part of a terrorist plot, is not one to keep quiet in court. As the Crown attorney and Justice of the Peace discussed his failed attempts to find a lawyer last week, Esseghaier’s voice rose above the rest, making clear he would not accept just anyone.

“I cannot take a lawyer who is not able to fulfill my need,” he said.

Co-accused in an alleged plot to derail a Toronto-bound passenger train, the 30-year-old Tunisian national has proclaimed his peculiar “need” at numerous court appearances since his April 22 arrest. Because the Criminal Code is not a “holy book,” he says, he requires a lawyer who will help him be judged by the Qur’an, not “a book written by humans.”

He’s had difficulty finding one. A Legal Aid lawyer visited Esseghaier in jail recently, but would not take him on because of his request. Without representation, Esseghaier, who returns to court later this month, may eventually have to mount his own defence — and he’ll have a hard time there, too, given that accused criminals can’t just opt out of the law.

I’d say he’s probably going to have to defend himself. And his “Allah told me to do it” defense is simply not going to work, nor should it.


  1. says

    Members of many religions will tell you that in no sense did they choose their own moral code– that the reason they can claim morality itself is based in doing right by God, as revealed in his holy text, is that it compels them to behave in ways they don’t always want to behave. They want to sin, and sometimes give in to temptation to do so! Then they must ask forgiveness and demonstrate proper guilt. That’s no fun at all. Why would someone choose that?

    Well, nobody said it was “fun.” People do not choose all things on the basis of what’s fun or not.

    They chose it because they believe it to be right.

    They chose it.

    Not God.

  2. says

    And his “Allah told me to do it” defense is simply not going to work, nor should it.

    I agree. But what if he uses the old “Allah told me that Jesus told him to tell me to do it”?

  3. daved says

    If he’s convicted, can they behead him, in accordance with his own holy standards?

  4. DaveL says

    Now imagine him as a Christian arguing that he should be judged under biblical law.

    I’m pretty sure it’s been tried, several times. It didn’t work any better. I recall reading about a tax evasion case before judge Howard Dawson in which the defendant argued “With God as my judge, I do not owe this tax.” To which Dawson replied “He isn’t. I am. You do.”

  5. Abby Normal says

    The way I see it, if you meet God you may be judged by God’s law. But this judge is a man. So it is by man’s law you shall be judged.

  6. Olav says

    I will save the judge some time: innocent on account of insanity. To be held at Her Majesty’s pleasure until he is no longer a threat to society.

  7. says

    DaveL @5:

    United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff Mayo was represented by one of the country’s premiere attorneys — a fellow named Daniel Webster. Mayo’s basic defense was, “The debbil made be do it.” The court, however, was concerned that it could not obtain jurisdiction over Satan and Mayo would have to stand for his transgressions.
    Read all about it on Wikipedia.

  8. says

    Oops! That’s what I get for going from memory instead of reading the article for myself. The court was concerned about jurisdiction because the only possible precedent, at the time, was a purported case in New Hampshire where the defendant in a foreclosure action, brought by Satan, was represented by Daniel Webster.

    My only excuse is that law school was a long time ago.

  9. says


  10. busterggi says

    He could get away with saying, “Jesus told me to” if he was in certain parts of the US.

  11. aziraphale says

    He should be careful what he asks for.

    If a court were to rule that derailing a train is not a crime for Muslims, what would that do for the relations of Muslims with the wider community?

  12. says

    Yeah, cranks have tried to claim current Canadian law didn’t apply to them because it doesn’t recognise the King James Bible as the law of Canada. It didn’t work.

  13. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says


    Well, he worked in Var-hein, Qubec.

    (The place where he worked is actually a small lab – INRS energy. A student in my lab went there for a summer internship and we joked that he’d grown his beard to fit in with that bunch of “terrorists”).

  14. CaitieCat says

    They’re deeper here than you know.

    They pretend to be using a French word, but we all know they’re really – Al Uwweta, Zanti Al Uwweta. You can practically hear them calling it from the teemless Minarets of Montreal, can’t you?

  15. CaitieCat says

    Crap, I borked the link, there’s a | before the http:. Another good linky joke spoiled by CHUBBY FINGERS and an UNCHUBBY KEYBOARD!

  16. laurentweppe says

    his “Allah told me to do it” defense is simply not going to work, nor should it.

    Of course it’s going to work: his goal is not to avoid prison, but to beat his chest and boast that he is a martyr of the faith.

  17. says

    ” man accused of terrorism in Canada is demanding an attorney who will argue that he should be judged on the basis of the Quran rather than on the criminal law of that country.”

    Do you want to know how to avoid this pitfall, Chiheb Esseghaier? It is amazingly simple, if you use this one “weird” trick–BLOW SHIT UP IN THEOCRATIC MUSLIM COUNTRIES!!

    You’re welcome.

Leave a Reply