Aqsa Parvez committed one cardinal error in her life—she did not conform to rules, and that cost her dearly. She died young, or rather, was murdered on December 10, 2007.
When a family migrates to the West, there are hopes and aspiration, dreams of everything better, from quality of life, to health care, and everything else in between. Aqsa Pervez belonged to a conservative Muslim family from Pakistan that had migrated to Canada.
Aqsa soon got admission into a Canadian school and quickly started adapting to the Canadian way of life. New country, new friends, new language, freedom, opportunities for higher studies, sports, theatre, music and much more. When suppression gives way to expression, it is an explosion of sorts, with the mind trying to come to come to terms with the best possible option to go ahead with, and in that melee of thoughts, there was one major step taken by her – to take off the hijab. Because her friends did not wear one, she saw no reason to wear it either.
This did not go down too well with her parents and her brothers. The repeated admonition was futile, therefore, in no time, threats and admonitions turned physical and Aqsa realized the magnitude of the trouble that she was inviting upon herself. She eventually agreed to wear the hijab again. But it was a ruse. Aqsa wore the hijab while stepping out of the house to go to school, but once out of sight, she would take it off. She would do the same on her way back.
The act did not last long, and sure enough, this charade was discovered and reported. When confronted, she readily accepted that she had taken off the hijab, and that she was determined to have her way, come what may. This was the last straw for her father and brothers. The beating started. She was chased around the house, kicked and beaten. She was throttled and her head was smashed hard against the wall. Aqsa succumbed to her injuries and died. Post mortem reports concluded that her death was caused by compression to the neck (strangulation).
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) both tried to suppress the story by portraying as if it was an accident, more than ‘honour killing’, but one right-wing group, by the name American Freedom Defence Initiative, refused to let the matter die and decided to honour the Aqsa’s memory by building a monument on top of her grave. Unfortunately, there was not even a headstone to locate the spot where she was buried, and the cemetery (controlled by ISNA and CAIR) refused to divulge the location.
Her family would not permit a headstone to be put on Aqsa Pervez’s grave, and warned that if a stone was laid, it would be removed.Far from the clutches of the murderous family, a park in Jerusalem was named ‘Aqsa Pervez Memorial Grove’. A plaque at the entrance to the park reads – “In Loving Memory of Aqsa Parvez and All Victims of Honor Killings Worldwide.”
Pamela Geller, author of this initiative writes the following, and I quote- “The memorial in Jerusalem is recognition of this horror and the first indication, that in the Free World we are not going to stand by silently, while the Islamic world brutalizes women and treats them as property and worthless trash. It is but a small, respectful step toward widespread resistance against honor killing in the West and elsewhere.” All is not lost, and there are happy endings. The likes of Rifka Barry found a loving foster home, where she was given a new identity.
Is it any wonder, or does it surprise anyone that Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head for wanting to go to school?