Accused Muslim rioter Mohammed Issai Issaka not sexist, his disdain embraces all-comers
THE accused Muslim rioter who a female magistrate slammed as “very disrespectful” for refusing to stand for her has defended his actions – saying he wouldn’t get on his feet for a male magistrate either.
- PETER BODKIN, CAROLINE MARCUS AND AMY DALE
- THE DAILY TELEGRAPHÂ thanks to Mullah
Lakemba resident Mohammed Issai Issaka, 44, caused outcry on Monday when he rejected magistrate Jacqueline Milledge’s demands that he rise for her during his appearance at at the Downing Centre Local Court on charges of rioting and assaulting police during the September 13 riots.
He stayed in his chair when she entered the courtroom – citing his religious beliefs for his failure to follow Australian court customs.
Yesterday his lawyer Stephen Hopper toldÂ The Daily TelegraphÂ his client wanted people to know he loved his adopted home and his refusal to stand had nothing to do with gender: “(Issaka’s) words were: ‘I have a mother, I have a wife and I have daughters. I would hate anybody to disrespect them because they are women.’ .”
Issaka had pleaded not guilty to rioting, assaulting and resisting police.
Mr Hopper said Issaka’s strict reading of his religion meant that he would only stand for God.
Ms Milledge eventually agreed to a compromise, letting Issaka stay outside the court until she had taken her seat.
Issaka’s refusal to stand could have provoked a very different reception if he had done it in a majority Muslim nation.
Former Supreme Court judge and NSW attorney-general John Dowd said in some Islamic countries a person could be locked up until they showed respect for a court: “You go to a country, you respect its laws – you come to Australia, you should respect our laws.”
Mr Dowd said he had never had anyone refuse to stand for him as a judge – nor seen it happen while at the bar table.
Jamila Hussain, a UTS lecturer and expert in Asian and Islamic law, said many predominantly Muslim countries had courts which followed the convention of standing for a judge. “I have never heard (standing in court) raised in the Muslim community as a problem and I have been around the community for many years,” she said.
Giving evidence on Monday, Issaka said he had “respect for all human beings” when asked if he had a problem with police or authorities.
He denied called a female officer “f … ing filth”.
“I worked in a place for eight years and they never heard me swear,” he said.
The fallout from Issaka’s showdown came as another man yesterday refused to stand for a Federal Court judge during a racial-discrimination hearing.
Indika Roshan Ratnayake has sued Bondi Surf Club over vilification and bullying he allegedly suffered as a member of the famous institution.
When lawyer Jennifer Bicknell, acting for the club, said he should stand to address Justice John Griffiths he refused and told her: “Don’t whisper at me.”
Justice Griffiths told the self-represented man not to be rude and to show respect, but he allowed Mr Ratnayake to stay seated during the brief hearing.
Issaka will return to court on the charges in September.