Thanks to everyone who tipped us to this.
Taxi boss jailed for threats against daughter
By MEGAN GILLIS, Courts Bureau
Last Updated: 11th November 2009, 7:26am
The city’s taxi union boss was handed a year in jail Tuesday for what a judge deemed an “honour crime.”
Yusef Salam Al Mezel, 44, had pleaded guilty to criminally harassing his 23-year-old daughter, Eman, over three weeks in July 2007.
“Mr. Al Mezel has threatened his daughter with serious violence and has caused her to fear for her safety in the name of honour,” Judge Lynn Ratushny wrote. “He has committed the crime of harassment against her in the name of honour.”
Al Mezel admitted to pushing his daughter, threatening to break her legs and kill her and smashing her computer. When she fled marriage to a Syrian man for a $9,000 dowry, he stalked her to a shelter and a friend’s home.
He sent her e-mails threatening her uncles and cousins would go “crazy” over the family’s honour and to come home before someone got hurt.
Police spirited the young woman — and the family sheltering her — out of Ottawa.
There’s no evidence Al Mezel would have killed her but his threats “invoke a seriously dangerous belief system that can and has led to violence against women,” Ratushny wrote.
The judge noted that Al Mezel, who came from Kuwait 20 years ago, is a community leader — a founder of his mosque, city council candidate and representative of 1,500 taxi drivers.
But she wrote that a year is the minimum to denounce what he’s done and deter others.
The Crown had asked for up to two years.
Eman Al Mezel testified she’d stained the family “sharaf” by running away and shedding the hijab and killing her was the only way to clean it.
Al Mezel’s other daughters testified that their father was never violent and is a religious “modernist.” His brothers testified the family are “lefties” and believe men and women are equals.
Al Mezel himself said that listening to expert evidence on honour crimes was like hearing about a “different world” — he’d never, he said, lived in that world or held those beliefs.
Al Mezel’s lawyer, Geraldine Castle-Trudel, argued at sentencing that Al Mezel was a desperate father who wanted to bring his daughter home and the victim of anti-Muslim stereotypes. She’d sought probation.
“My heart breaks for him and his family,” she said Tuesday. “He’s a really, really decent person who made a very bad mistake.”