Hassan Chokr, accused of threatening preschoolers and parents at Oakland County synagogue, ordered to trial

Hassan Chokr

Hassan Chokr, the 35-year-old man accused of hurling antisemitic slurs at children at a Jewish daycare and synagogue, will head to trial

Oakland County Judge Kimberly Small ordered Chokr to trial on Thursday, Jan. 5, three weeks after he appeared in court of a hearing to determine if there was enough evidence for trial.

Judge Small said Chokr did not make the comments to random strangers and specifically chose where and when it happened.

"There's nothing random about this," Small said. "From the very beginning of this event on Dec 2, 2022, the defendant's words, actions, the time he arrived - as parents were bringing their kids to religious school - was specifically intended to intimidate and harass the members of the Jewish community," Small said.

During Thursday's hearing, Small repeated many of the comments that Chokr allegedly made in the video and she stopped herself multiple times repeating the exact words.

"His tone ranged from…anger to rage," Small said. "Towards the end, it was uncontrolled, seething rage, that would make anyone shutter with bone-chilling fear."

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In the December hearing, cell phone video of Chokr riding through the parking lot of Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Twp was played in court. The video was graphic and contained many insults and foul language including "F--- you Israel".

It was all shot and posted online by Chokr himself as he's leaving the synagogue on Dec. 2.

Chokr's attorney argued that the threats were not directed at the mom and were protected by the First Amendment.

"Yeah, they were offensive. We don’t condone this conduct - it's reprehensible. As to what he said but it’s not criminal," attorney Nabih Ayad said.

Judge Small explained the law of the First Amendment before issuing her ruling and said that it places limits to which ‘states may punish or criminalize’ the use of words or language. That includes expressions or ideas that most would find offensive.

"The right to speak freely is not absolute," she said.

Words that carry what is defined as ‘true threats' are not protected. True threats, as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court, are "true threats that encompass those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of intent to commit act against individual or a group," Small said.

In December, temple security guard Juwan Jones testified that he felt threatened when he asked Chokr to leave that day.

"What are you going to do if I don’t keep moving," Chokr allegedly said in the video.

Jones said he heard Chokr say "you are all going to die".

Video was also played that showed Chokr referring to at least one parent as the "mother of the devil."

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After leaving the synagogue, Chokr – a convicted felon – tried to buy a gun at a Dearborn gun store. But his attorney said he knew he'd get denied but trying to test his constitutional limits.

"It’s statements, statements are never a threat just statements now if he was holding a gun brandishing a gun that’s a whole different story," Ayad said.

Chokr will remain in the Oakland County Jail on a $1 million bond. His next trial date was not set.