Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Pamela Geller, founder, editor and publisher of the popular and award-winning weblog AtlasShrugs.com. She has won acclaim for her interviews with internationally renowned figures, including John Bolton, Geert Wilders, Bat Ye'or, Natan Sharansky, and many others, and has broken numerous important stories -- notably the questionable sources of some of the financing of the Obama campaign. Her op-eds have been published in The Washington Times, The American Thinker, Israel National News, Frontpage Magazine, World Net Daily, and New Media Journal, among other publications.
FP: Pamela Geller, welcome back to Frontpage Interview.
In December 2007, a young girl by the name of Aqsa Parvez was murdered by her father in an honor killing in Toronto. Today she lies in an unmarked grave. Why? Tell us about the case.
Geller: Aqsa Parvez, a Grade 11 student was strangled to death by her 57-year-old father, Muhammad Parvez. Aqsa’s 26-year-old brother, Waqas Parvez, has been charged as well.
In the fall of 2007, Aqsa Parvez went back and forth between friends’ houses and youth shelters. She had been afraid to go home. Her father was enraged because she refused to obey his rules, and he had promised he would kill her.
On the morning of December 10, Aqsa waited at a Mississauga bus shelter with a friend she had been staying with. As they waited, Aqsa’s 26-year-old brother Waqas pulled up at the bus stop. He said that she should come home and get a fresh change of clothes if she was going to be staying elsewhere. Aqsa did not want to at first, but then got into his car. Less than an hour later, Muhammad Parvez called 911 and told the dispatcher that he had killed his daughter.
Aqsa's friends at Applewood Heights Secondary School say she wanted to live free of sharia and the Muslim law imposed by family. Her friend Dominiquia Holmes-Thompson, 16, said Aqsa had told her that something could "happen." "She was scared to go home," she said. Aqsa had been taking off her hijab as she headed to school and put it back on when she returned home. "She wanted to dress like us," said one girl. "To be normal." Her father would spy on her at school to see if she would wear the hijab or talk to non-Muslim boys.
School friends of Aqsa Parvez say they knew that one day they'd be told the 16-year-old would be fighting for her life. Parvez's father, Muhammad Parvez and Aqsa's brother, Waqas Parvez, have each been charged with first-degree murder for her death. On January 7, 2009, well over a year after her brutal death, a month-long preliminary hearing began in a Brampton courtroom to decide whether there was enough evidence to send Muhammad Parvez, and his son Waqas to trial for first-degree murder in the case.
They are still awaiting trial.
FP: Tell us about the memorial fund you started to get Aqsa a head stone. How did that go and did the young girl’s family support it? What ended up happening?
Geller: A year after Aqsa's murder I was shocked to read in the Canadian newspaper, The Toronto Sun, that Aqsa lay in an unmarked grave. Many victims of an honor killing are left in unmarked graves. Imagine caring more about your faith than about your child.
The same article said that for $580, the cemetery could put a flat marker there -- with her name, dates of birth and death, so that at least people could find her if they wanted to come to pay their respects. A cemetery employee said there would be no problem if others wanted to place a flat memorial there, but it would be removed if the family were to demand that.
I was outraged that this young girl who had lived under a constant threat of terror would be abused in death as well. Her brutally murdered body lies anonymously in an unmarked grave under a small plate -- plot number 774. I asked my readers to contribute to a fund to place a headstone at the teenager's grave, simply inscribed. Readers of my weblog, AtlasShrugs.com, opened their hearts and their wallets, and contributed $5,000 for a headstone for Aqsa. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch joined the effort, and we approved a design for a headstone that read, "In loving memory of Aqsa Parvez, Apr. 22, 1991-Dec. 10, 2007 -- Beloved, remembered and free." All was going according to plan until, after much silence, Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton, Ontario, where Aqsa is buried, advised me that the family (yes, the family that murdered her) had refused to "sign off" on the headstone. The director of the cemetery said: "The family wants changes and is planning on coming in to see me. They did not book an appointment yet but I hope to see them soon."
Of course, the family never came, and when we inquired as to purchasing a plot near Aqsa's body, we could not. Not a tree. Not a rock. Not a bench. All the plots were owned by the Islamic Society of North America. I tried to contact the family at that time, but they would not take my calls -- I spoke to the them once, but they pretended not to speak English while they were speaking English to me. And they were adamant: the family refused to allow the headstone to be put on Aqsa's grave, and the cemetery reaffirmed, they could remove it if it were placed there by others.
But those of us who had contributed to the Aqsa Memorial Fund were determined to make sure that Aqsa would be memorialized. We checked into other locations, made plans, only to see t hem canceled at the last minute out of ... fear. We had plans for a garden at the arboretum at the University of Guelph in Ontario, but a university official wrote me to me before we broke ground to say that "no matter how worthy, a memorial to Aqsa Parvez would draw much public attention and would thus be inconsistent with current use of The Arboretum."
FP: What side did leftist journalists take? Leftist feminists have stood upon behalf of this murdered girl right? I'm just being sarcastic. Tell us about the Left’s reaction.
Geller: The feminists were notoriously silent on this, much the same way that they abandoned Amina and Sarah Said. In Canada, women's groups were silent on Aqsa as well. &n bsp;When Canadian feminists were asked for their reaction to Aqsa's murder, they decline to respond and instead suggested that "it would more appropriate to turn to Muslim women's groups for reaction," according to one CBC journalist. That journalist also noted that "advocates are willing to speak up for all other women in Canada, from women who need cancer treatment because of radioisotope shortages to the dozens of prostitutes murdered in British Columbia, but they will not speak for Aqsa."
Leftwing journalists, on the other hand, were vicious when the story started to circulate. One particularly jaded and ugly journalist said, "And hey, if a tasteful memorial is eventually erected, 20 years later it might not matter who came up with the idea. I don’t know. I do know that as an anti-Muslim maniac, Geller makes a very poor spokeswoman for the cause, and that it’s no help to anyone to pretend, as [Joe] Warmington did, that her motives are pure."
No good deed goes unpunished, eh? But what these leftists are doing is aiding this vile misogyny and making the world safe for honor killings. Of course, the left must inject its special brand of poison. The hatred of the good for being the good.
FP: What efforts are you making now for Aqsa?
Geller: What I thought would be a simple discreet purchase became a project. Atlas readers continued to scout locations and two wonderful memorials will be going up. Atlas Shrugs reader Scott McLeod, the fire chief in Pelham, Ontario, proposed a resolution honoring Aqsa to City Councilor Sharon Cook -- and she went to work getting it passed. The Aqsa Parvez Memorial will be erected in Pelham this summer! A granite bench will be inscribed: "In loving memory of Aqsa Parvez, Beloved, Remembered and Free." There will a special area in the park, Aqsa Parvex Peace park, with flowering plants, a tree -- very special. I think she'd like that.
What's more, there is the Aqsa Parvez Grove we are planting in American Independence Park in Jerusalem, Israel, where the plaque will read: "In Loving Memory of Aqsa Parvez and All Victims of Honor Killings Worldwide."
The memorials in Pelham and Jerusalem are the first indication that in the Free World we are not going to stand by silently while the Islamic world brutalizes women and treats them as property. They are two small steps toward widespread resistance against honor killing in the West and elsewhere. We must raise awareness and educate good people to understand this brutal Islamic "tradition".
FP: Pamela Geller, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.