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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Dec 17, 2007 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

We Will Not Tolerate Honor Killings in the West

The Aqsa Parvez Shelter for Battered Muslim Women


Aqsa Parvez, the tragic sixteen year old slain by her father in an honor killing in Canada, was buried secretly and privately. Her teenage friends arrived hours too late at the Islamic Center where they had been told her funeral would take place. The kind of family and culture capable of honor murder (she and her family are all Pakistani immigrants) is also quite capable of denying her Canadian friends the opportunity of paying their last respects.

Perhaps Aqsa's family did not want a western-style "scene" at her funeral. Perhaps they viewed Aqsa's westernized friends as enemies who stole their daughter from them. No doubt, as Pakistani immigrants, they are deeply invested in the subordination of women as the very sign and symbol of their religious and cultural identity–the bedrock of which consists of female obedience to male authority. Obviously, from Aqsa's father's point of view, he had no choice. A Muslim girl whose hair or face is uncovered is viewed as a prostitute or as an out-of-control female who, for the sake of her family's honor, must be killed.

Thus, while I understand the wrenching, cultural conflict involved, including the rejection of a shallow secular culture which condemns women in yet another way–I must, on behalf of the martyred Aqsa and on behalf of so many other girls who have suffered her fate, still say: Enough! We will not allow such criminal barbarism to gain a foothold in the West.

Now is the time for all good multi-culturalists to reconsider their views and for everyone who judges Israel and America harshly for its alleged human rights abuses of Palestinians and terrorists, to begin to judge Islam just as harshly for its criminal subordination of Muslim girls and women.

Aqsa Parvez could have been saved. Apparently, she had twice fled her home and had moved into a shelter. However, following a classic pattern, her family wrote to her, claimed that they could not "sleep without her home," told her that she would not have to wear the hijab, and persuaded her to return home.

In The Death of Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom, I recount examples of Muslim families both in the West and in the Islamic East who trick their daughters into returning home so that they can kill them.

In Aqsa's case, within weeks, she ran away from home a second time.

At this point, she really might have been saved–but only if the western shelter had understood that Aqsa needed the equivalent of a federal witness protection program to protect her from her family for the rest of her life. Nothing less would do since her father and brother would have murderously stalked her for the rest of her life. And, Aqsa would also have needed a warm and understanding alternative family to adopt her. Yes–adopt her. Life without a protective family is not a life most Muslim immigrants would deem worth living.

Is Canada prepared to invest in such programs? Are America or Europe?

While we may or may not be able to abolish honor killings in Muslim lands, we are absolutely responsible for the proliferation of Islamic gender Apartheid–or its abolition–in the West.

Honor murders, daughter- and wife-beating, female genital mutilation, female illiteracy, and polygamy are crimes in the West and must be prosecuted as such.

Yes, I favor cultural "sensitivity." Therefore, I know that Islam is a political and military movement and not just a religion. Yes, I understand that Islamic religious beliefs may seemingly be at odds with modernity and women's rights, but I also know that other great religions have managed to find a way to straddle the Great Divide between religious belief and modern, democratic public life. Islam must do no less if its followers wish to live in the West or in the modern world. The "sensitivity" must be in both directions.

According to the Toronto Star, Aqsa Parvez's friends attended an anti-violence vigil at the Mississauga Civic Centre which was organized by the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. (In my experience, in the United States, and as one commentator has pointed out, CAIR essentially fights for civil rights for shar'ia law. ) At the CAIR event, "One speaker explained they would say a prayer to comfort those who weren't able to attend the funeral.'Take mercy on Aqsa,' the prayer went, 'and on us who are left behind.' "

Canadians might consider creating an Aqsa Parvez Shelter for Muslim women who are being battered or threatened with honor killing.

I would go further. It is time for Western democracies to start screening potential immigrants in their home countries as to their views about women. If we did so, at the very least, we might have an opportunity to educate would-be immigrants in the ways of the West long before they actually take up residence amongst us.


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