In the wake of the murder of Aqsa Pervez, a 16-year-old Muslim girl who was strangled by her father for refusing to wear a Hijab, many commentators have pointed the finger of blame at Multiculturalism, and, more specifically, Islam.
Her 26-year-old brother has also been charged with obstruction of justice.
In a National Post Full Comment op/ed piece, Barbara Kay argues that Parvez's murder is proof of the failings of Multiculturalism and Feminism, as demands that we respect cultural differences force people to bend over backward in order to accomodate the most brutal practices of other cultures.
"...The alliance of feminism with multiculturalism has created a two-tier sisterhood.
The top tier, western women, have achieved full equality rights. Any and all male aggression against a top tier woman triggers a public outcry and a million lit candles. The second tier women — those from other cultures — are not so fortunate. Feminists exploit multiculturalism to justify their moral abandonment of the women who most need them: girl victims of dysfunctional or socially unevolved cultures."
Partially, Barbara Kay has it right. Certainly, there are some people who have become so enamoured with Multiculturalism that they have allowed various groups a "free pass", even within the borders of our own country, to do as their culture would allow, regardless of whether or not it violates the rules and laws of Canadian society.
This, however, is not a failing of Multiculturalism in and of itself. Rather, it's a failing of Multiculturalism as a political ideology. The use of Multiculturalism as a political ideology demands that it be rigid and uncompromising. It's under conditions such as this that the detail that a crime has been committed can easily be swept under a rug and forgotten.
Multiculturalism should not be so highly enshrined in the Canadian identity that it can allow for cultural values to be used as an excuse for murder.
To people such as Kay, however, the Parvez case has become more than merely a question of whether or not Multiculturalism should allow "honour killings" to be tolerated in Canadian society (although the answer to that question is obvious). They want to treat the Parvez case as a trial for the Hijab itself:
"Sixteen-year old Mississauga teenager Aqsa Parvez died on Tuesday of wounds suffered in an attack on her Monday — allegedly by her father. (A brother is also charged with the crime of obstruction.) Friends of Aqsa painted a picture of a young girl eager to integrate into Canadian society, in ongoing conflict with her conservative Pakistani father who insisted she wear the hijab, the Muslim symbol of sexual modesty.
Multiculturalists would have us believe that the hijab is merely a religious symbol, like the Sikh kirpan or the Christian cross, freely embraced by the girls wearing them. It isn’t, as many Muslim commentators, including Tarek Fatah in these pages yesterday, have frequently explained. The hijab is rather a public sign of supervised sexual modesty, and marks those wearing it as chattel, leashed to their fathers and brothers as surely as if they were wearing a dog collar.
But you’ll never hear a feminist murmur a word of complaint about these girls’ lack of autonomy, for the same reasons the judge in Australia couldn’t imagine that an aboriginal girl should be treated with the same dignity and respect as her own daughter.
I have argued before in these pages that the hijab, however benign-seeming, is still one end of a female-submissive spectrum that ends in the burqa, a garment virtually all Canadians find antithetical to our values. If public schools, which are supposedly secular, had banned hijabs as France did, along with all other religious paraphernalia, in order to create a level social Canadian playing field, Aqsa would have had Canada on her side."
To many Canadians, Kay's remarks would seem spot-on. Ignoring for a few moments that the Burqa holds different meanings for differing groups of Muslims (some of whom reject the practice altogether), many see the Burqa as an example of suppression of women at worst, and female submissiveness at best. Under either condition, they argue, the Burqa should be seen as anathema to Canadian values.
At first glimpse, they'd seem to be correct.
Yet the fact is that, at the end of the day, Canada is either a free society or it is not.
Anti-Hijab and anti-Burqa activists need to come to grips with the fact that religious freedom must also entail the right for Muslim women to choose either of these garments, if they do so of their own accord. However, Canadian Muslims, if they expect to benefit from the freedom of religion Canada offers, must also accept those freedoms will apply to their wives and daughters as well. Honour killings will absolutely not be tolerated.
Muhammad Parvez should be made an example of what the Canadian justice system holds in store for those who commit such foul acts.
However, banning all religious paraphenalia from schools, as Barbara Kay suggests, would only entrench religious intolerance in Canada, as the increasing fervour surrounding secularism and its religious counterpart, atheism, begins to demand that all religions be suppressed in the public eye.
Whether or not France (time and time again proven to be less tolerant than they pretend to be) has done this is immaterial. People used to agree that religious intolerance is bad, and in the wake of Aqsa Parvez's "honour killing" -- arguably a result of religious intolerance within her own home, as her father refused to respect her differing beliefs -- what is needed is more religious tolerance, not less.
We don't have to respect cultural values that allow for "honour killings". We do, however, have to respect that cultural values may lead people to dress differently than we may otherwise like them to.
To refuse to do so is nothing short of intolerance. We used to agree that was a bad thing.