My first thought, upon seeing this story on Global News, was "what the hell is Pamela Geller doing in Canada?"
Ms. Geller is the face of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an American anti-Muslim organization famous for running purposely offensive transit ads in American cities so they can launch free speech lawsuits against the systems.
The organization is also known by the less generic name "Stop Islamization of America," and it has been described by Ms. Geller — without irony — as "a human rights entity dedicated to the freedom of speech, which is under attack, as well as to the freedom of religion and to individual rights."
Unless you are Muslim.
Last year, the group placed the ad above on Edmonton buses. When the inevitable outrage ensued, the City pulled the ad. Now Ms. Geller is suing.
Edmonton City councillor Amarjeet Sohi, who called on Edmonton Transit to remove the ads, told CBC, "“I was really disturbed. I found it to be very offensive,” said Sohi of the campaign’s message.
“I found it to be that it was targeting or singling out one single community. Honour killing is prevalent in many other communities so why only single out one Muslim community? The organization behind these ads is known for its anti-Muslim stance.”
While so-called "honour killings" are often associated with the religion of Islam in Western perceptions, Human Rights Watch says it "goes across cultures and across religions":
"In countries where Islam is practiced, they're called honor killings, but dowry deaths and so-called crimes of passion have a similar dynamic in that the women are killed by male family members and the crimes are perceived as excusable or understandable," said Widney Brown, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.Indeed, one of Canada's most famous "honour killing" cases involved Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, a Sikh woman who was was kidnapped, tortured, and killed allegedly on the orders of her mother and uncle while she was visiting India. Her transgression was secretly marrying a man of whose social status the family did not approve.
Like many other social ills, the assumption that families own their daughters' bodies and honour is one that comes not from religions themselves, but from the violent cultures of honour that exist in parts of the world with less sense of personal security and trust in government law and order.
Meanwhile, mainstream religious leaders continue to condemn honour killings. Muslim scholars from around the world have issued fatwas denouncing the practice as antithetical to Islam. It is against the Sikh religion as well. And the Hindu one. And the Jewish. And the Christian.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative told journalists, apparently with a straight face, “I don’t know why feelings would be hurt. I would think that Muslims that would denounce the honour code under Islam would stand with us and would want these ads.”
Yeah, right. Yankee go home.