Consistent Uncertainties

Never underestimate your power to heal with a kind smile or hurt with a simple word.

Brampton father and brother plead guilty.

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Aqsa Parvez, in happier times

She had fought her parents for the right to wear Western clothing. She wished to put away the hijab they wanted her to wear. She was going to apply for a part-time job, something her father would not allow. One day she ran away from home for the second time in three months. After the first time, her father had sworn on the Koran that he would kill her if she ran away the second time.

On the morning of Dec. 10, 2007, Ms. Parvez returned to her home. Thirty-six minutes later, her father called 911 saying he had killed her. When police arrived, they found Ms. Parvez’s mother crying hysterically and her father with blood on his hands. Just two days prior to her death, 16 year old Aqsa went to the theatre and saw her first movie.

In a Brampton courtroom Tuesday, Ms. Parvez’s father, Muhammad Parvez, 60, and her brother, Waqas Parvez, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. They will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

When asked by his wife why he had killed their daughter, Ms. Parvez said her husband told her: “My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked.”

Aqsa, 16

Observers say the case, among the first so-called honour killings to gain widespread attention in Canada, will cast a spotlight on generational strains that can tear at families adapting to a new culture.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said it’s a particularly pernicious form of murder to kill a member of one’s own family for cultural reasons.

“That’s one of the reasons we have been explicit in condemning what we call barbaric cultural practices such as honour killings,” Mr. Kenney said.

“We want to underscore that multiculturalism is not an excuse, or a moral or legal justification, for such barbaric practices. Multiculturalism does not equal cultural relativism.”

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah said the guilty plea is a wake-up call for parents to understand that young women are not the possessions of men. Muslim leaders who do not call Ms. Parvez’s murder an honour killing are avoiding the real issue, Mr. Fatah said.

“If someone cannot see through the notion of the hijab being used as a basis of killing someone, they’re blind,” Mr. Fatah said. “How many more Muslim women have to die before … Islamist groups open their eyes?”

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