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"Honour Killing" Trial: Sinful to Be Canadian?

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SHAFIA
AP

According to an unidentified witness, Mohammad Shafia believed his daughters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti deserved to die because they wanted to live like Canadians, the court heard. Like other Canadian teenagers, they probably liked going to school, enjoyed a movie or two with their friends, dreamed of a prosperous future and Zainab, the eldest, also dared to fall in love.

Her dreams along with those of her younger sisters came to a tragic end when they were found dead inside a submerged car on June 30, 2009.

Shafia allegedly accused his daughters of sinful behavior that would surely bring dishonour to the family.

And what exactly was this sinful conduct the girls' father accused them of? It was visiting the library for the Internet -- or simply stepping outside. That's what Shafia allegedly told a witness who testified against him in a recent court hearing.

Hamed Shafia, brother of the girls and co-defendant in the gruesome murders probably enjoyed free access to the Internet, as well as freedom to hobnob with associates and friends. Yet, he and his father denied the same opportunity to the three girls. Mr. Shafia, the court heard, placed many restrictions on his daughters. Their opposition to these rules would have been legitimate, however, it was met with intolerance. Shafia is reported to have stated about his daughter's "rebellion" that Zainab was "a stubborn lady" and "a prostitute, a whore." Shafia would think nothing of his polygamous relationship, a violation of Canadian law, or the fact that he married a woman much younger than himself. He would instead choose to reserve his hostility for his daughters, and either rule their lives or, as it may have been, decide to kill the girls. The double standards are glaring.

Sadly, such is the fate of many young Muslim women, who along with their families emigrate to Canada and the United States from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt. The paranoia of men who lord over these women increases upon arrival when they see what they consider the moral laxity of the West. Women are free to date here, choose their own life partners, choose not to marry at times, dress freely and pursue a variety of professions in a mixed-gender environment. This is undeniably sinful according to ultra-conservative Muslims. According to them, such freedom invariably results in moral turpitude. Women must therefore be shielded and guarded from such influences or else they would fall prey to the countless temptations associated with "excessive" freedom. They must be subjected to scoldings, beatings and confinement, if necessary to prevent them from bringing dishonour to their families.

Aqsa Parvez suffered the same tragic fate at the hands of her father and brother in 2007.

Her crime, like that of the Shafia sisters, was choosing to adopt a Canadian lifestyle, attire and social patterns of most Canadian teenagers. In the end, she died a brutal death at the hands of men who should have protected her from harm.

Muslims emigrating to Canada and the United States need to acknowledge that their children, especially daughters, are human beings with independent minds and normal aspirations. As parents, we worry about the negative repercussions of certain choices our children make. It is indeed our parental right to guide our children -- even admonish them at times. But no one has the right to injure and kill daughters due to medieval notions of family honour or disdain for Western society. Mr. Shafia, it is not sinful to be Canadian or American.

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