The boss of Ottawa’s taxi union has been found guilty of harassment against his twenty three year old daughter for leaving Islam. Yusef Salem Al Mezel pleaded guilty September 15, 2008 of criminal harassment and will appear back in court on November 17, following the completion of a pre-sentence report.
Crown attorney Kevin Phillips argued that twenty three year old Eman Al Mezel’s life was in danger due to what has been described as the “Sharaf of the family”, explained by Ms. Al Mezel as the belief that because she had run away from home, shed her hijab and rejected Islam, she had “shamed and dishonoured” her family. The only way to restore her family’s honour she explained, would have been to kill her, an act usually carried out by a father or uncle(s).
Numerous phone calls and e-mails sent to Ms. Al Mezel from her father in July of 2007, clearly describe the trouble with Islam. “ We (family) can no longer hide the problem from your uncles or cousins and that he could no longer guarantee ‘the safety’ of anyone”. Another e-mail read, “Eman you know when everyone hear about they will react crazy, and no one will care about police or other thing, you know your family.
Defence lawyer Geraldine Castle-Trudel asserts ” Mr. Al Mezel had nothing but the best intentions when he tried to convince his daughter to return home”. She went on to characterize the situation as a dispute between a father and a daughter that escalated and it isn’t appropriate for the Crown to make arguments on religious grounds. Mr. Phillips disagrees and argued that Al Mezel’s use of religion to coerce his daughter to return home should be considered an aggravating factor in the offence. I agree with him.
This was done in the name of Islam, not in spite of it.
Mr. Al-Mezel was originally charged with six offences, including uttering threats. These charges have been dwindled down to one, presumably during the bargaining process. Find the full story here.