Saturday, June 28, 2008

Aqsa Parves, Muslim Teen: No Scarf, No Life

Aqsa Parvez, 16, of Mississauga, Ontario: "ever-cheerful;" "afraid of her parents;" "strangled."

(from FOXNews, used w/o permission)
Aqsa Parvez, dead: "It is a teenager issue."

The Pakistani-Canadian Parvez family now has three members directly affected by this murder: Aqsa, 16, the victim; Muhammad, her father, 57, who's charged with strangling her; Waqas Parvez, 27, also charged with first-degree murder.

There are a number of explanations for Aqsa's murder:
  • Police: no comment
  • Joseph Ciraco, Muhammad's lawyer: it's not just cultural issues
  • Aqsa's friends: her father wanted her to wear a Muslim scarf, she didn't, so he killed her
I'm being a bit unfair in my summary of what the police and Aqsa's friends have said.
  • The police don't want to mess up the case they hand over to the prosecuting authorities, and they're still investigating who was involved, how, and why.
  • As for Aqsa's friends, I boiled down what they said, as reported: leaving a very blunt core.
  • The Canadian Islamic Congress: "I don't want the public to think that this is really an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue...
    It is a teenager issue."
    (I'm not making this up.)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations's Canadian spokesman made a carefully ambiguous statement: after Asqa was murdered, imams at Canadian mosques took a look at issues brought up in the media. "It forced the Islamic community to look at itself in terms of what children face and what parents here in Canada face," he said.

I'm almost exactly the same age as Muhammad Parvez: and I've endured three teenage daughters. The third is still in the house. Teenage daughters will test the mettle of the strongest man. Not physically, but where it really hurts: in our minds.

But, exasperating as a teenage daughter whose views don't match one's own can be, there's no excuse for strangling her. None. Not for someone with my value system. As a devout Catholic, I do understand the stresses that come with trying to live according to a way of life and a philosophy which is not the best match with a contemporary culture of Barbies, live-in girlfriends, and thongs.

What's missing in my value system is the idea of honor killing. I do not believe that I have the duty to kill a member of my family (it always seems to be a woman) who doesn't do what I think she should, or what my imam says she should.

Curiously, the word "honor killing" didn't show up in any of the handful of articles I found on this news item. Perhaps it doesn't apply in this case. Or, as I suspect, the news media is being polite, and not bringing up an unpleasant issue.

I may be wrong, but I think that, if the Aqsa's name had been, say, Jane, her family's name Anderson, and her father a rabid fundamentalist, the religious angle ("cultural" angle?) would have been covered. Thoroughly.

In the news: I wrote a post on this story, last year: "Canadian Teen Killed by Muslim Father - Over Scarf: Maybe - And This Isn't News?" (December 12, 2007)

Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.
Update (June 28, 2008)
I've been made aware of these links, in today's comments. Thanks!
    Red Room (June 27, 2008)
    • "Maybe there's yet hope for us all!
    • "There was a dishonor killing in suburban Toronto in December 2007. A 16-year-old school girl named Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death by her father, Muhammad. Her "crime"? Acting too Western. In the weeks preceding her death, Aqsa had argued with her family over several issues...."
    • About the Stop Honorcide campaign, started Mother's Day 2008, by Muslims Against Sharia.
    • "The goal of the campaign is to prosecute honorcides to the fullest extent of the law.
    • "We want honorcide to be classified as a hate crime and we advocate for every existing hate crime legislation to be amended to include honorcide."


Anonymous said...

Hi, Brian.

You are right. . .in the early goings, few (if any) in the Canadian media were calling this a dishonor killing, even though that's exactly what it is. They also weren't saying Aqsa was strangled to death. They used the tortuously PC phrase "neck compression" to describe what took Aqsa's life.

But I've been noticing some improvements in the more recent reports of these crime. In fact, I just blogged about them on my site. Have a look, if you wish.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Anonymous said...

The STOP HONORCIDE! campaign was launched on Mother's Day 2008. The goal of the campaign is to prosecute honorcides to the fullest extent of the law. We want honorcide to be classified as a hate crime and we advocate for every existing hate crime legislation to be amended to include honorcide.

Brian H. Gill said...

Ellen R. Sheeley,

Thanks for the comment.

I think competition is a good idea: and traditional news media now has competition - or at least a watchdog - in these unregulated blogs.

Brian H. Gill said...

Muslims Against Sharia,

Thanks for the comment, and the link.

I think you have a good idea.

Now, to update the post.

Brigid said...

I agree that honorcide should be prosecuted, but hate crime? Aren't most violent crimes motivated by hate? Particularly those that result in death.

Anonymous said...

Brigid, classifying honorcide as a hate crime, assures maximum possible penalty. Not classifying it as a hate crime opens a door for some bullshit defense like "cultural differences" which may decrease the penalty.

Brian H. Gill said...


Muslims Against Sharia has a point, given the ludicrous state of American (and, perhaps, Canadian) courts.

My own opinion is that all 'hate crime' legislation is a misdirected effort to correct enormous problems in a judicial system. The more important issue, again in my opinion, is correcting the value-neutral, all-truth-is-relative, emotion-dependent viewpoint that made excuses like "cultural differences," improper toilet training, and the Menendez defense ('we're orphans' the fratricides cried) possible.

And that's going to take major work: including, in all probability, changing the way judges are chosen on the local, county, and state level.

Which is a whole different topic.

Brian H. Gill said...

Muslims for Sharia,

Thanks for getting back to this post, and Brigid's comment.

It's a good idea to clarify and define one's position.

About the approach to 'hate crimes:' I might be a bigger fan of 'hate crime' prosecutions, if it weren't for the origins they seem to have in America.

But I harangued about that before.

Anonymous said...

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski,

We make no judgment about hate crimes per se. However, since those laws exist, they might as well be put to good use.

Brian H. Gill said...

Muslims Against Sharia,

About "...since those laws exist..." - Agreed. They exist, they can be used as a tool.

MAS's approach has merit, given the current state of affairs.

Clarifying my previous comments: I think that the MAS tactic, using the 'hate crime' legislative template to define honorcide as a 'hate crime' has merit. Particularly since ideas like 'diversity' have muddied the judicial waters.

However, in the long run, I believe that people who have a defined and practical value system will benefit, when legislators and judges stop trying to control the emotions and attitudes of their subjects through law.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.