Father kills daughter for not wearing a hijab

"As he does almost every Friday, Sheik Yusuf Badat will use the noon prayer sermon tomorrow to further his message that Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. But his job will be more difficult this week, after the shocking slaying of a Mississauga Muslim teen, and the arrest of her father. Rumours that the girl clashed with her family over her objection to wearing the hijab have generated headlines from Germany to Pakistan, and fuelled a fierce - and at times arguably racist - debate about Islam and Canadian values.

"It wasn't just about Islam," said Mr. Badat, the imam at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto. "There are issues of parenting and anger management."
Much of Mr. Badat's work involves educating his congregation about the differences between religious obligations and cultural traditions, two areas that are often mixed.

Just two weeks ago, he held a parenting issues event for his congregation, featuring representatives from the Children's Aid Society and government agencies. This week, the same issues were being raised in connection with the killing in a Mississauga neighbourhood.

Aqsa Parvez is to be buried today at Meadowvale cemetery, three days after police say the 16-year-old was slain. The tragedy comes at what is usually a joyous time for the Muslim community: A week from today marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a religious festival marking Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael to God.

The girl's father, Muhammad Parvez, made his first public appearance in a Brampton, Ont., courthouse yesterday, where he was denied bail. The 57-year-old cab driver is charged with murder. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 29. Mr. Parvez fixed his gaze on Justice of the Peace Darlene Florence during most of his brief bail hearing, but his face crumpled when he made eye contact with his sniffling sons. Muhammad Shan Parvez and Ahtisham Parvez blinked back tears as they watched their father in an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs. The third son, 26-year-old Waqas, has been charged with obstructing police in their investigation.

Police say a man called 911 Monday morning and told the dispatcher he had killed his daughter. When paramedics arrived at the family's Mississauga home, they found Ms. Parvez in critical condition and rushed her to hospital. She died that night. Peel Police said last night that an autopsy showed the teenager died from "neck compression."

Friends of Ms. Parvez have said she argued with her father, a devout Muslim, about wearing a hijab, or head scarf, and that she was sleeping at friends' homes to avoid her family.

Yesterday's court appearance was the first time that members of the Parvez family have spoken since her death. "It's bad to see [my father] here," Muhammad Shan Parvez said as he left the courthouse. "My dad is alive, but my sister passed away, so I feel bad for my sister." He added that his mother, who is diabetic, was having a particularly difficult time handling the situation. He said he last saw his sister two weeks ago.

Whether Muhammad Parvez will be charged with first-degree or second-degree murder is still unknown. His lawyer, Joseph Ciraco, said it would likely be second-degree murder.

Mr. Ciraco said his client's sons have been distraught over the incident that has drawn in three members of the family. "They are torn," he said. "Their sister is gone and their brother and father are in jail." Ms. Florence instructed Mr. Parvez not to communicate with his son Waqas, who will appear in court tomorrow for his bail hearing.

Although Muhammad Parvez was automatically denied bail, Mr. Ciraco said his client might have to be released because he may have a heart condition. Ms. Florence agreed that Muhammad Parvez's health would be monitored while he is in custody. "If there's an opportunity for bail, we'll proceed in the new year," Mr. Ciraco said. Muhammad Shan Parvez and brother Ahtisham appeared emotional before their father's hearing began. They arrived in court half an hour before the scheduled hearing time and paced the hallways before sitting down in front of the surety office. Ahtisham Parvez, who listed himself as his father's surety, absently flipped through a newspaper as he sat waiting, but his thoughts appeared to be elsewhere. "This is a hard time," said Muhammad Shan Parvez.

In just a few days, Ms. Parvez's killing has become an international news story. Dozens of blogs and social networking groups have shifted focus from the teen's death to heated debates about the role of Islam in the West.

Now Mr. Badat must address issues such as religion, parenting and anger management in an environment where the three have become indistinguishable to many.

"Generally, the Muslim community is vigilant when these things happen," he said. "The non-Muslim community is also tolerant and people behave like true Canadian citizens. "But we need to be alert - there are always people who will go beyond borders of justice and understanding.""

By: Omar el Akkad and Dakshana Bascaramurty

13 December 2007

Source: Globe and Mail