The Murder of Aqsa Parvez and Islamic Double-Speak

Aqsa Parvez, 16, murdered by her father over an ISLAMIC head scarf.

Sadly, it’s all too typical. Another Muslim woman — this one very young — is dead at the hands of a father, brother, uncle, gang or Islamic government, with the typical in-your-face double-speak that we are not allowed to believe this is a problem with Islam.

Yes, it is. That’s not a Bolivian head scarf or a Japanese head scarf or a Prada head scarf or a Chanel head scarf, it’s an ISLAMIC head scarf. That’s what it’s called. That’s what it’s called by the imams who preach it for girls as young as ten from mosques that hold a woman without one a source of shame for her family. That’s what it’s called by imams that preach that Allah made a woman deficient.

They preach this violent screed — with all its dangerous implications for the safety of young woman — to not the slightest cultural protest, and then some young woman dies. And then they can’t get their faces on TV fast enough to tell us just how wrong and bigoted we are to think it could possibly be Islam.

It’s Islam. It wasn’t to begin with. The headscarf was originally worn by the prostitutes in Sumerian temples as a sign of their profession. But it’s Islamic now. It’s the Islam these people are preaching every Friday in mosques all over the world. And the double-speak around it is right out of 1984.

A case in point, from Canada, where this murder occurred, features Sheik Alaa El-Sayyed, imam and head of Mississauga’s Islamic Society of North America — that’s the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) that has been declared an unindicted co-conspirator in terrorist financing, a small point left out of every single account of this event.

Speaking at a press conference, as reported by CTV, El Sayyed said that Islam teaches that women have the right to choose hijab or not. The double-speak came in the next sentence when he said, however, that a child who doesn’t wear it brings shame to the family, and that the parents could be viewed as failures in the community.

So what’s the real message inside this double-speak? Is it that it’s really quite OK if you don’t wear your ISLAMIC head scarf? or that your family will be vilified in the community until you do?

Obviously, the REAL message is that you ARE to wear your ISLAMIC head scarf, and that if you don’t you are shaming your family. Read on, this gets worse.

If it’s not an ISLAMIC head scarf, then why is there any preaching whatsoever about it in any mosque?

If it’s not an ISLAMIC head scarf, why does ISLAMIC shari’a law in Saudi Arabia and Iran and Afghanistan demand that you wear it? Why have more than 300,00 women in Iran been detained since May for breaking Islamic law by not having strict enough dress? Why are women in Basra being beaten into cover by religious police, and why have more than 40 of them been murdered for it in recent months for breaking dress codes?

No, it is Islamic. Yet every time some woman dies over a head scarf, over choosing her own mate or boyfriend, over alleged sexuality outside marriage, we get the hordes of Islamic representatives coming forward in a deliberate attempt to deflect any and all responsibility — and therefore block any and all change. We get a deliberate attempt to prevent the an end to the violence and insane control of women issuing straight from the misogynist imams preaching from half the mosques in the United States and Canada by denying that it has any source in the religion at all. There was never blacker lie told.
What we get instead is the Islamic double-speak that a girl is dead because it’s just “domestic violence” — with the point endlessly being made that if we even allow ourselves to think otherwise we’re being bigoted — that if we point out that there have been more than 11,000 Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11 by people who say they are Islamic attacks, we are being culturally or spiritually intolerant. [Apparently they can say it, advertise it, put out recruiting videos about it, but if we say it, we’re Islamophobic. Oh, yeah, right.]

No, we’re not being bigoted. The bigotry here is happening in Islamic mosques where an exoneration of control of every aspect of a woman’s life, thought, freedom and sexuality is preached every day — backed up by hadith that have overtaken any initial impulse within Islam that would have given women equality — an impetus lost, Bernard Lewis says, within 50 years of the Prophet’s death. Whatever was there effectively died as abrogation destroyed more and more of the spiritual side of Islam, replacing it with spurious hadith that pleased the Muslim male, to whose pleasure and control the entire religion has now been bent.

Now the religion operates on hadith (90% of shari’a law is from the hadith) that exonerate violence towards women and entrench desert tribalist customs that strip a woman of every sense of autonomy and dignity, implying on the way that Allah must have erred in high cosmic fashion in giving a woman a clitoris, hair and a face. I hope the men who preach this evil have a handy explanation at the ready when the come to face to face with the Creator, because they’re going to need it.

No, that head scarf on that 7-year-old kid is not a fashion statement, it’s an ISLAMIC head cover. And a free choice is one that bears no punishment. It may have consequences; it may imply responsibilities. But not punishment. To say a woman may choose not to wear jihab — but that her family will be vilified and driven from the community if she does not — is not a choice. It is a veiled threat, pun intended. To say a woman may decline cover — but that she risks being being to death by her father if she does — is not a choice. It’s a direct threat.

Muslims in Canada need to heed the words of Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan in Canada’s National Post today:

The hijab in particular has become a thorny issue among Muslim families. It has been elevated as a sort of ‘sixth pillar of Islam’ among militant sects.

“Young teenage girls are often lectured over the virtues of the hijab by their family members. Once they hit puberty, compliance is deemed a non-negotiable religious requirement. …

“There is much discussion in Canadian society about the religious freedoms of those who choose to wear the hijab. We hear relatively little about the oppression of young girls who make the opposite choice. Seldom is their oppression from within their own community, or even their own family, cast as a human rights issue. …

Consider, as an example, the Montreal mosque that recently posted on its Web site a warning to the effect that if young girls took off their hijab, they could end up getting raped and having ‘illegitimate children.’ Other proffered risks included ‘stresses, insecurity and suspicion in the minds of husbands’ and ‘instigating young people to deviate towards the path of lust.’ … As if the threat of rape and the fear of illegitimate children were not enough, these pre-teen girls were told that if they took off their hijab, they would cease to be Muslims: By removing your hijab, you have destroyed your faith. Islam means submission to Allah in all our actions.'”

So, to the Sheik Alaa El-Sayyed and others — brilliantly and bravely exposed by Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan, Muslims whose lives are constantly threatened for speaking out — NO SALE.

“Muslims need to stand up to this sort of emotional and religious blackmail by imams who spread the competing agendas of Saudi Arabia and Iran into Canada,” says Fatah.

And so do Canadian and American non-Muslims to whom the protection of these girls now falls. Such protection will not come from the mosques that should be defending them, nor from the fathers and brothers who should stand up for them. And it never comes from the Muslim-advocacy organizations that routinely get up and whine whenever this happens that they are ever-so “misunderstood” or that we “discriminatory” or “bigoted” toward their communities. No, most assuredly, such protections will not come from them, because the double-speak you just heard from head of Mississauga’s ISNA about how free that woman was not to wear her head scarf is coming from the organization that is, according to Stephen Schwartz of the Center of Islamic Pluralism, “the main front organization … for the Wahhabi Islamic sect,” the Saudi sect that doesn’t allow women to drive, to leave the house without a male chaperone, to leave the country, to become a field geologist, to appear without her face fully veiled.

Aqsa Parvez is dead. She joins Banaz Mahmoud, the 20-year-old Briton who was tortured, raped and strangled to death earlier this year by her father, brother and uncle — after begging for help — and Hatin Surucu, 23, who was killed by her family in Germany after they called her a “whore who wanted to live like a German.”

And to the extent these people can get away with transplanting that control of women to foreign shores and creating extra-judicial enclaves and systems of punishment in which women do not enjoy the civil protections guaranteed them by Canadian and American constitutions, they will do it.

And that makes it up to us non-Muslims to be sure that these retain their rights and that aggressions towards them to do not go unpunished.

You’ll know things have changed when you hear imams preaching against male aggression, not female freedom, from every mosque in our lands. Don’t hold your breath.

Until then, it is our responsibility to jeer at this double-speak and to stop playing sanctimonious cultural relativism games with the lives of young Muslim women, because we — not the spiritually supremacist and sanctimonious authors of the next suck-up “What my hijab means to me” puff pieces for the local newspapers — are mostly all these women have, because the Fatahs and Hassans of our cultures are few and far between and under constant pressure and death threat.

And just to set the record straight here, the shame is on the Muslim men who will not take action against those among them who preach and do these things, who cannot be man enough to relate to a free woman, and who take the manipulative and cowardly way out every time — the sleazy public manipulations, the tawdry false accusations that critics of barbaric mind-sets and actions are somehow bigoted, culturally intolerant, and discriminatory.

No, actually, it is these men who are bigoted, culturally intolerant, and discriminatory both of women and of free, rights-based culture. Things will change only when these men grow both a conscience and a spine.

Until then, NONE of us should back down in demanding that this despicable screed cease being preached in the mosques, and we should bring legal action against imams, organizations and mosques that continue the practice, because if there were ever hate speech and incitement to violence, that is it.

Aqsa Parvez’s father should be jailed for life. And Canada should have a very close look at the ISNA and the mosque websites Fatah and Hassan reference above.

We failed another young Muslim girl this week. Let’s not fail another.

Morgaan Sinclair is a book editor and a writer whose works have appeared in The Weekly Standard and the New York Post.

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