As part of her punishment for assaulting a Muslim woman, Boston pastor Daisy Obi (inset above) must take an introductory course in Islam and learn to respect Muslims.
The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts this week upheld the sentence imposed in 2014 on Obi, a Christian minister in her 70s, by Somerville District Court Judge Paul M Yee Jr.
According to this report, he sentenced her to two years in jail on an assault and battery charge for pushing Gilhan Suliman, a tenantt in her home, down a flight of steps. Obi was required to serve only six months, with the remaining 18 months suspended if she complied with certain probation conditions.
The judge, who described Obi as “a landlord from hell” told the defendant:
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.
Obi, an ordained minister from Nigeria who is the pastor of the Adonai Bible Center in Somerville, just north of Boston, found herself in the dock after a violent run-in with Suliman.
The court heard that, in April 2012, Obi rented an apartment in her multi-family home to Suliman, her husband and five young children.
Suliman complained about the heat and electricity not always working, while Obi complained that Suliman appeared to have 12 to 15 people living in the apartment at one point.
Suliman testified that about a month after she moved in, Obi stood on the stairs outside Suliman’s apartment screaming anti-Muslim insults.
The following month, while Suliman was taking her baby out of the car, she said Obi yelled anti-Muslim sentiments at her other children.
Then, about a month later, Suliman said Obi accused her of ringing her doorbell, shouted at her and pushed her. Suliman said she fell backward down 15 to 20 stairs, hitting her face on the banister, cutting her lip and tearing a ligament in her shoulder.
Obi vehemently denied making any anti-Muslim statements to Suliman or pushing her. She testified she was inside her apartment praying when she heard a knock at the door from the police, who arrested her.
Obi said in a phone interview that she believes Suliman had a vendetta against her because she refused to allow her to let more people live in her apartment.
I’ve never, ever made a rude remark against her. Why would I do that? I have three Muslims living in the house now.
Obi also said she believes Suliman hates her because she is a Christian.
In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court left intact the probation imposed on Obi. The SJC’s ruling was based on procedural grounds and didn’t directly address the probation condition.
Writing for the court, Justice Barbara Lenk noted that under court rules, a person must first object in a lower court if he or she wants the high court to review it. No such objection was made by Obi and her attorneys, Lenk wrote.
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,
Because she raised these claims for the first time on appeal, they have been waived.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake