Controversial ads pulled, set for review
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:40PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 29, 2013 7:04PM MDT
Controversial ads on Edmonton Transit Service buses will be removed, and reviewed by advertising industry officials, and the city is pledging to look at how to handle similar ads in the future.
In recent days, ads were posted on ETS buses, targeting Muslim girls – telling them to get help if they feel threatened by their family - and sparked outrage for a number of Edmontonians, and for some in Edmonton's Muslim community.
The ads were posted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and the president of the organization said Monday the ads were meant to reach out to girls who might be looking for help.
Pamela Geller told CTV News she heard concerns from Edmontonians that it could be an issue in the city's growing Muslim community – so the organization purchased 70 ads that were posted last week, and were set to be taken down in mid-November.
“If we have to suffer the slings and arrows of those that wish to protect this honour code, that wish to protect this system of misogyny and violence, then so be it,” Geller said in an interview with CTV News.
The Chair of the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities didn't agree, saying the ads counter-act work being done to prevent domestic violence, and not just in the Muslim community.
"We would just as unequivocally condemn those acts as we would anybody smearing the name of a particular faith group," Masood Peracha said.
“There’s no room for such bigotry and discrimination in our city, and we should not have allowed these ads to start with,” Councillor Amarjeet Sohi said. “But once we found it, we took immediate action and taken them off.”
Sohi also said he is planning to sit down with the City’s Transportation Department, and Pattison, to find ways to improve criteria and standards for advertisements posted on city property.
Meanwhile, the ads have raised questions surrounding the approval process for ads meant for city buses – a city official said the city received a number of complaints over the ads, and the decision to remove them was made Monday evening.
“In this particular case, the concerning nature of these particular complaints being discriminatory in nature, was of concern to us,” Cheryl Oxford with the City of Edmonton said.
Oxford said the ads will seek feedback over the ads from the Advertising Standards Canada, before making a final decision on the fate of the ads.
“I think we’d have to wait for a decision from them and also turn to the citizens we have heard from, to make a decision of what to do here in Edmonton,” Oxford said.
A Pattison spokesperson told CTV News Monday that the ads cleared a checklist, and met required standards – such as identifying the group that bought the ad, and providing contact information for them.
CTV News spoke to Geller again Tuesday – who said she was shocked, and said the disturbing issues related to honour killings can’t be ignored.
With files from Nicole Weisberg