tragic killing of sixteen year old Toronto student,
was in large part a consequence of a clash of cultures.
Aqsa was strangled, allegedly by her
father, after ongoing family tensions relating to her wish to live her own life,
including dropping the wearing of the hijab.
Efforts by some in the Toronto
media to try and pass this off as just another domestic tragedy is fairly
typical of the understatement that accompanies tragedies of this sort.
Apparently fear of giving offense takes precedence over stating difficult
truths. Information that was truly pertinent with respect to what led to the
tragedy came from Aqsa's friends and associates.
I strongly recommend
this excellent article by Natasha Fatah. Ms Fatah addresses a number of the
key issues surrounding this case in a clear and forthright fashion.
Typical of the cop-out posture are feminists and women's advocacy groups who
refuse to take a position that addresses the problem of overbearing patriarchal
control and the oppression of Muslim women. Obviously this isn't an issue
across-the-board, but it impacts enough women and children in that community to
make it an issue that should concern us all. Instead these advocates direct
journalists to the Muslim community for reaction. This is unfortunate. Young
women of Aqsa's generation may be members of the Muslim community, but they are
also young Canadians. In some cases they identify closely with cultural trends
in the larger society. We owe them our support when they are subjected to abuse
in an attempt to force them to conform to traditional Islamic dress codes.
Of course young Muslim women should be free to wear the
hijab if they choose to do so, but
those who decline ought to have their choice respected. This is a message the
Muslim community in Canada needs to hear more forcefully, especially when you
have religious leaders such as Dr Iqbal Nadvi,
stating publicly that Muslim parents bring shame upon themselves if a child
chooses not to wear a hijab. He makes
this statement even though there is nothing in either the
Qur'an or the
Hadith that makes a mandatory demand
(law) with respect to female robing. The call is for modesty. Are women in
Turkey who dress in a secular style, perhaps with the addition of a headscarf,
bad Muslims? I'm sure there are a few Turkish imams who would disagree with Dr
It took classmates of Aqsa's who attend
Applewood Heights Secondary School in
Mississauga to speak-to-truth on this issue. They told reporters that
Aqsa was harassed at home because she
resisted the hard line religious requirements of her family, particularly on
this issue of dress.
Pundits who are reluctant to speak directly to issues of male dominance and
religious coercion are afraid of being seen as racist or in some way
unreasonable. Have we become so reflexively compliant to the call of correctness
that it's okay if reporting amounts to editorial spin-of-convenience so as to
keep the mask of cultural propriety firmly in place?
Speaking out honestly on these issues does not imply that the speaker is either
racist or anti-Islamic. This isn't about being Muslim - it is about denying the
right to choose, in some cases accompanied by ongoing abuse. As we have seen in
Aqsa's case, this can escalate and
become a terrible tragedy. Domestic abuse in the name of religion shouldn't be
tolerated, even out of deference to multicultural sensitivities.