Girl's death puts Islam in the hot seat


If nothing else, the death of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez should put to rest forever the yearning by some for sharia law in Ontario.

Perhaps her death by strangulation for allegedly refusing to wear a hijab, or traditional Muslim (in her case, Pakistani) clothing, was not an "honour killing" but an accidental death. Perhaps her father, charged with her murder, was simply angry and lost control. We don't know. A brother is also charged with obstructing the investigation.

There seems little doubt that the father, a taxi driver, loved his daughter. But as a Muslim, cultural differences with his daughter were clearly rampant.

And now she is dead, the family shattered.

When the McGuinty government asked the NDP's Marion Boyd to recommend a form of sharia law for Ontario in family disputes, outrage -- mostly from Muslim women -- put plans on hold. Hopefully forever.

As for the sorry case of Aqsa Parvez, who died because of her eagerness to blend into Canadian culture, it is instructive to look at what another Islamic dissenter has to say -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali refugee who became an MP in Holland.

Extremists still seek to assassinate her, as was done to Theo van Gogh who directed a film of Ali's (Submission) that protested Islamic cruelty to women.

In an interview with Britain's Spectator magazine, here's some of what Hirsi Ali has to say, and which could apply to Aqsa Parvez: "I don't believe there is such a thing as 'moderate' Islam. It's better to talk about degrees of belief and degrees of practice. The Koran is quite clear that it should control every area of life. If a Muslim chooses to obey only some of the Prophet's commandments, he is only a partial Muslim. If he is a good Muslim, he will wish to establish sharia law."

To her, Christianity is different from Islam because Christianity allows questioning and debate, and Christians must obey secular rule of law -- something that Islam "has not (yet) acknowledged."

Hirsi Ali, who endured sexual mutilation and fled a forced marriage, recalls that "I was a Muslim once, and it was when I was most devout that I was most full of hate."

While Islam cannot be banned, Westerners should stop converting, she says, and the veil should be banned in schools (a symbol of subservience) and "close down Muslim schools because that's where kids are indoctrinated."

She adds: "Islam is different from other faiths because it is not just a faith, it is a political ideology. Children learn that Allah is the lawgiver, and that is a political statement."

Hirsi Ali now lives in Washington, but requires bodyguards and protection -- rather as author Salman Rushdie did, or does. She makes it clear that she is not at war with Muslims, but "I am at war with Islam."

She sees education and reason -- especially for Muslim women -- as a hope for the future: "If we keep on asking questions, maybe Muslim women will realize, as I did, that they don't have to be second-class citizens."

How much of Hirsi Ali's views apply to Aqsa Parvez is uncertain, but it seems a safe bet that the teen, who was waging a cultural war against the culture of her parents, would identify with the Somali heroine who speaks for freedom.

It is too late for Aqsa, but may not be too late for others who think as she did, and seek to reconcile the culture of parents with the culture of Canada.

Perhaps the rest of us do too little to encourage them.



Pic-- Aqsa Parvez