The November 2008 issue of Toronto Life carries an article by Mary Rogan, “Girl, Interrupted: The Brief Life of Aqsa Parvez”, which tells the story of a sixteen-year-old Toronto girl who left her parents’ home after disagreements with her father, was lured back home, and was then killed. Her father and brother have been charged with her murder.
The Toronto Life story, which characterized the murder as an “honour killing” because of the circumstances, involving clashes over the girl’s lifestyle choices – has predictably come under attack from the usual self-appointed gatekeepers of acceptable public discourse. The blinkered zealots of multiculturalism claim that the article is anti-Muslim because – wait for it – it draws attention to violence against Muslim girls.
Ironically, the dogmatists who seek to sweep this issue under the rug describe themselves as ‘feminist’, but theirs is a peculiar form of feminism, a version which condemns violence against women in principle, but seeks to silence those who speak out about violence against Muslim women.
The double standard is sad, but perhaps it is not surprising. History gives us numerous examples of social movements which come, over time, to adopt positions directly opposed to the principles on which they were founded. It appears this has happened with those feminists who argue that we shouldn’t make a fuss about the ‘honour killing’ of a brown-skinned Muslim girl. However, the fact that those who take this position cloak themselves in progressive rhetoric doesn’t make their attitude any less racist or any less misogynist.
What is particularly distressing is the way the hard-core multiculturalists betray the very people they claim to be defending. Progressive groups and individuals within Muslim communities are struggling hard against fundamentalism and for women’s rights – and meanwhile the multiculturalists are busily allying themselves with the most reactionary leaders and change-resistant institutions in those communities. Leaders of a movement which used to stand with the oppressed and powerless against patriarchal power structures are now on the other side, providing cover for those power structures. They have become part of the problem.
December 16, 2008
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También disponible en español: ¿Por qué protestar por el asesinato de una chica musulmana de piel oscura?
Aussi disponible en français: Pourquoi faire toute une histoire à propos du meurtre d’une musulmane à peau mate?.
Also available in Italian: Perché tante storie per l’omicidio di una ragazza musulmana dalla pelle scura? .
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Also available in Portuguese: Por que fazer um alarido sobre o assassinato de uma garota muçulmana morena?.
Keywords: Double Standards – Family Violence – Feminism – Honour Killings – Identity Politics – Multiculturalism – Muslim Communities – Pseudoradicalism – Violence Against Women and Children – Women and Islam – Women’s Rights