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The death of Aqsa Parvez

Posted: December 11, 2007, 5:16 PM by Jonathan Kay

Jonathan Kay

Whenever a girl dies at the tender age of 16, it's a tragedy. But the death of Mississauga, Ont. teenager Aqsa Parvez, many fear, may represent something more: a sign that the loathsome and barbaric practice of Muslim "honour killings" is making its way from South Asia and the Middle East to Canada.

Ms. Parvez's body was found in her home by paramedics on Monday morning. According to police, her father had called them earlier in the day to say he'd killed her. Friends of the dead girl told journalists that Ms. Parvez's relationship with her father was antagonistic. He wanted her to wear a hijab. Instead, she wore the latest garish teen styles sometimes switching from one outfit to the other in between home and school.

It is important to emphasize that nothing has been proven in regards to Ms. Parvez's death. Even if her father did confess to the crime during a phone call to police, as alleged, the killing may have been an accident or the result of some unknown dispute entirely unconnected to religion and culture. And even if the dispute was over Ms. Parvez's Western-style demeanour, there is no evidence that this was an "honour killing" of the type we read about from overseas that is to say, a pre-meditated assassination plotted and perpetrated by father and sons to avenge a renegade daughter who "disgraces" the family name by dating an unapproved mate or otherwise violating the patriarch's edicts.

Since 9/11, Western societies have begun to closely scrutinize the toxic cultural practices of unassimilated Muslims in Europe and elsewhere. These practices include not only honour killings, but also anti-Semitism, support for terrorism, misogyny, forced veilings and forced marriages. Certain high-profile conservative columnists have been particularly vigorous about highlighting these pathologies. And so when a young Muslim girl gets killed by her father, there is a natural tendency to see it as an indicator that Canadian Muslims are about to follow the radicalized path of militant, unassimilated co-religionists in Paris, London and Stockholm.

In truth, however, Canada's Muslim community is moderate by world standards. The sight of a woman in a full burqua is an extraordinary rarity outside of a few small urban pockets. And such horrors as that allegedly visited upon Ms. Parvez remain almost unheard of. Moreover, for all our elites' overwrought emphasis on Canada's "multicultural" character, the concept of cultural relativism has not advanced so far that it is taken to excuse domestic abuse, let alone murder.

This may change. But for the moment, we should not read too much into this family tragedy. Canada is no Europe, where immigrant communities are left to fester within impoverished ghettoes in perpetuity with their imported violent and backward practices passed on from one generation to the next. Thanks to economic opportunity and a lack of class structure, assimilation typically takes just two generations in Canada.

As the case of Ms. Parvez shows, that assimilation process can be so rapid and wrenching that a parent can be driven to perform the ultimate evil against a child he doesn't recognize anymore. But it is rare enough that we may at least view it as an isolated criminal act, not part of a larger epidemic.





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