GLOSS Issue 21 APRIL 2015 - Page 12

The One Who Tastes Knows: An Exclusive Interview With Rabia Siddique Kate Matheson The first thing you notice about Rabia Siddique when you meet her is - well, her. There is no hesitation in her manner, no sense that there will be any obstacle or challenge that could possibly lie ahead with the ability to defeat her, or any person who will stop her from doing what she needs to do. From a friendly business meeting to a minefieldworthy courtroom battle, whatever she intends to see as an outcome, that will be the outcome. The second thing? That this perception is absolutely correct. The third thing is that she will do it with a warmth and humanity which both disarms and makes one understand just why she is so influential. When given the opportunity to interview Rabia, I had literally - and I do mean literally - just finished reading her memoir, Equal Justice, which my sister in law had lent me (and yes, I did admit to her that I had not bought the book myself. She cheerfully signed said book for Dayle, which gained me some serious kudos, so many thanks Rabia). I think I possibly grabbed the person who had offered the interview by the throat and said ‘Make. It. Happen.’ - or something hopefully less threatening and more bribe-orientated - because I was fascinated by her. This was an Australian woman, a Muslim of ‘Anglo-Indian descent’, as she would have once been referred to (and still was in one of the British newspaper accounts I read regarding Basra), who had served as an Commissioned Legal Officer in the British Army not just with distinction, but with extraordinary courage. She had survived the horror of being held hostage in Iraq whilst negotiating the release of two Special Forces soldiers, and the subsequent investigation she demanded into the event and misconceptions of her role in it. The youngest ever Federal Prosecutor in Western Australian History. An international Human Rights lawyer. Able to speak four languages fluently. A panellist on Q&A. Named one of the 100 most influential women in Australia by the AFR in 2014. I think you can see my point. This was the equivalent of interviewing Wonder Woman. So I threw on the Lois Lane persona which is my key to a pretence of confidence, and ventured forth. As it turned out, the need for the Lois Lane persona soon disappeared because of that aforementioned warmth and humanity, and because we were too busy talking (with much mutual wild gesticulating) to worry about things like that.