Busy days for AFDI in the court. Today, the Boston jihadi who plotted to behead me pleaded guilty for terror-related crimes and tomorrow we are in court in Canada to fight Edmonton Transit Services for their removal of our bus ads showing photos of Aqsa Parvez and six other women honor-killed.
Court hearing Friday September 23 for human rights group: ads against “honour killings” banned from Edmonton buses
Thursday, September 22, 2016
EDMONTON: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) will argue for the free expression rights of AFDI, a human rights group, in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton this Friday, September 23.
In October 2013, Edmonton Transit Services (ETS) ran — and then pulled — bus ads showing photos of Aqsa Parvez and six other women. The ad stated, “Muslim Girls Honor Killed By Their Families,” and continued, “Is your family threatening you? Is there a fatwa on your head? We can help: go to FightforFreedom.us.” Edmonton Transit pulled the ads after (then) Councillor Amarjeet Sohi phoned the manager of Edmonton Transit to complain about the ads.
So-called “honour killings” occur when a woman is considered to have sullied the family’s honour through some sexual indiscretion, or even perceived immodesty. Her killing is a means to restore the family’s honour. Aqsa Parvez was only 16 when she was strangled to death for refusing to wear a hijab. Aqsa’s brother and father felt that not wearing a head scarf dishonoured the family, so they killed Aqsa in her own home in Mississauga, on December 10, 2007.
After Councillor Sohi complained, the (then) manager of Edmonton Transit ordered the ads pulled without seeing them. The advertising contract itself was between the non-profit American Freedom Defense Initiative (“AFDI”) and Pattison Outdoor Advertising Group, the latter of which contracted separately at the time to handle ETS’ advertising. AFDI defends freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, individual rights, and the equality of all people before the law.
In June 2016, Justice Donald Lee ordered the City to answer questions about a pro-Islamic ad that previously ran on Edmonton buses. That ad had stated, in part, “ISLAM: The message of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.” The City has now acknowledged the placement of such ads on ETS buses.
“The Supreme Court has specifically held that governments must be neutral and there is nothing neutral about permitting pro-Islamic ads, while removing an ad because it was deemed to be anti-Islamic,” stated Calgary lawyer and Justice Centre president John Carpay.
“As our Supreme Court has held, freedom of expression is fundamental to a free and democratic society. Free speech facilitates those who advocate for change, in the hope of improving their lives, or all of society. To be meaningful, expressive freedom must include the right to communicate controversial and unpopular messages,” added Carpay.