A judge has ordered a landlord who was involved in a dispute with a Muslim tenant to learn Islam as part of her punishment for a fight in which the renter was “pushed” down a flight of stairs – prompting a legal analyst to describe the action as “a constitutional outrage.”
And a higher court has been asked to look into the actions by Judge Paul Yee Jr. of the Massachusetts court system.
It happened at the sentencing for Daisy Obi, who is a landlord, for a physical altercation in which tenant Gihan Suliman was knocked down a flight of stairs, suffering a bruise, cuts on her lip and a ligament injury.
Obi was convicted of the altercation, even though she denied it. She also denied allegations she berated Suliman over Islam.
Yee stated to Obi, “I want you to learn about the Muslim faith. I want you to enroll and attend an introductory course on Islam. I do want you to understand people of the Muslim faith, and they need to be respected. They may worship Allah, but they need to be respected.”
The local Press Enterprise reported Obi’s lawyers are taking the case to the Massachusetts state Supreme Judicial Court, asking whether the judge violated the landlord’s constitutional rights.
The report said the state’s Supreme Judicial Court “will hear arguments next month in a case that poses interesting legal questions at a time when the country is grappling with anti-Muslim backlash following deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, both allegedly carried out by radical Muslims.”
An editorial at Salon noted that Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. commented, “This is more than a head-scratcher; this is a constitutional outrage. Minister Daisy Obi, a 73-year-old woman from Nigeria, who went to Princeton, who’s an Episcopalian minister, who runs a ministry in Massachusetts, was sent to jail for two years by Judge Yee, but a year and a half of that was suspended if she did a certain probation – and here was her sentence: ‘Even you, wanting to be a person of God, have to respect all people’ … The first condition imposed states: ‘You have to respect the rights of the people of the Muslim faith.'”
The report noted Obi has insisted she never belittled nor beat Suliman, and that Suliman hates her because of her Christianity.
The Associated Press reported the foundation of the fight seems to be that Suliman complained several times about the heat or electricity not always working, “while Obi complained Suliman appeared to have 12 to 15 people living in the apartment at one point.”
The AP said in a telephone interview Obi reported Suliman had a vendetta “against her because she refused to allow her to let more people live in her apartment.’
The Grassfire blog noted that the tenant had called Obi the “landlord from hell.”
But Obi’s story was different, the report said.
“During the case, Obi adamantly denied allegations that she had made disparaging remarks toward Suliman’s religion, as well as that she had pushed the woman down the stairs. Obi testified that during the time of the alleged incident, she was inside of her apartment praying and that she was only made aware of the allegations when the police showed up to her door to make the arrest.”
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