On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said that a landlord convicted of pushing a Muslim tenant down the stairs will have to spend six months in jail and take an introductory course on Islam.
The New York Daily News reported:
Dr. Daisy Obi was convicted of assault in 2014 for pushing her resident Gilhan Suliman two years earlier during mounting tensions at the Somerville building where they both lived.
At trial the hospital lab supervisor recounted previous confrontations where her landlord allegedly said that Muslims were “wicked” and “need to be in hell,” as well as heating and hot water problems.
The 73-year-old Christian minister at Adonai Bible Center denied those claims at trial, as well as ever pushing Suliman, who she characterized as “the tenant from hell” for having numerous visitors stay at her apartment.
The AP added:
Obi, who is in her 70s, appealed both the sentence and the requirement that she take a class on Islam, arguing that the requirement violated her constitutional right to free exercise of religion.
The high court found that Obi had not shown that her sentence was disproportionate to the seriousness of the offense.
Obi’s former tenant, Gihan Suliman, cut her lip and injured her shoulder in the fall. During the sentencing hearing, Suliman said the assault had a “deep physical impact” on her and that she does not trust people in the same way she did before.
The court did not directly address Obi’s constitutional objections to the requirement that she attend a class on Islam, but said she waived that claim in her appeal because she never raised that objection in the lower court.
“While conditions of probation that touch on religion and risk incursion upon constitutionally protected interests should be imposed only with great circumspection, the defendant raised no such concerns before the trial court judge, and there is no information in the record that would allow us to evaluate her claims,” Justice Barbara Lenk wrote for the court in the unanimous ruling.
The ruling means that Obi has no choice but to take the course on Islam.
A post at Weasel Zippers asked: “Can you imagine the response to a judge forcing a Muslim landlord to take classes on Christianity or Judaism?”
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