- Published on Monday, 21 June 2010 13:22
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1963
As reported here, 16 year old Aqsa Parvez was killed by her father and brother in what they agreed was an honour killing. Before the surprise plea of guilty, her case was investigated by reporter Mary Rogan of Toronto Life magazine in an article called Girl Interrupted. Rogan was recently interviewed and she paints an ugly picture. (Full transcript here)
She says that surprisingly, the Muslim community have not condemned the killing:
"What was interesting was the number of people, especially young Muslim men, who came forward to condemn Aqsa. I found it particularly disturbing. They said that she had brought shame to her family, that she'd been corrupted by Western values, that she was a slut. There were also a lot of people coming forward with a lot of hatred for Muslims."
And some community groups seem to be aligning themselves in unexpected ways:
"I expected I might get direct criticism from the Muslim community but didn't. Instead, it came from Toronto feminist groups. There were protests, there were on-line debates and ugly postings saying that the conclusions I had drawn [that this was an honour killing], even if they weren't wrong, were racist, and this story was another example of the growing persecution of Muslims in North America. I was very shocked by the idea that feminists would be aligning themselves with conservative Muslims. I certainly see it now all the time."
One of the strange things that happens in public comment of honour killings is to deny that they are in fact "honour" killings - even when the murderers admit to that description. As Rogan says:
"It surprised me that people were so afraid to describe Aqsa's death as an honour killing. It's irrational to think that we can't call something what it is because that community can't sustain that kind of criticism. Ultimately, I think that's very infantilizing. If the Muslim community can't sustain the kind of criticism that other communities go through, then there's no hope for moving forward."
The attitudes by people who could have and should have helped were so oriented to political correctness that in my opinion, they share the guilt for Aqsa's death. When asked "What was the reaction when you approached the staff for an interview at Aqsa's school, Applewood Heights?" Rogan answered:
"They were defensive. The school staff is preoccupied with cultural sensitivity, even though Aqsa went to them and said, 'My culture is killing me. My father is insisting I wear the hijab and not see my friends.' The school's response was to contact Aqsa's imam, which seemed insane to me. It was like bringing in a Christian brother to speak to an altar boy who complained of abuse by a priest. She was very clear about what the problem was, but the school staff is trained to reach out to leaders in the community. And in the Muslim community, in Aqsa's part of the world, the community leaders are imams. It was a crazy bind that she found herself in."
Mary Rogan has had some support from Muslims - 100 found her on Facebook, agreed with her comments and wanted to be "friends". This is encouraging.
As I have said repeatedly on this site, and as many Canadians have said to me and said publicly, if a Muslim (or anyone) comes to Canada, he/she must integrate with Canadian culture and that includes accepting that their children will want to adopt Canadian ways and it definitely means there must be no abuse of women and especially no honour murders. Fortunately there are many Canadian Muslims who agree with this point. Any immigrants who do not want to integrate should not be permitted entry.
However, Mary Rogan's experience shows that we have more work to do - there are still Muslims who have weird, dangerous beliefs and there are still people (like the school staff) who think that Islam is just another religion. It's not; for many Muslims, it is still entrenched in the Middle Ages.