LIKE most Canadian teenagers, Aqsa Parvez just wanted to grow up her own way, hanging out with her friends, dressing like them and pushing her curfew. Her tragic death this week, allegedly at her father’s hands in the family home in Mississauga, has shocked our community to the core, and has also highlighted the cross-generational and cross-cultural pressures that many families face.
… The courts will ultimately judge innocence and guilt, and whether this was a cultural dispute rooted in Aqsa’s desire to wear tight-fitting clothes and remove her hijab … or in some other as-yet-unknown factors…. But whatever the facts, Aqsa’s friends believe that a culture clash was playing itself out in the Parvez family before her death, which contributed to the other, inevitable strains that any immigrant family faces. The family came from Pakistan, and the parents are religious.
Reacting to that perception, thoughtful community figures such as Atiya Ahsan of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women have been quick to urge Muslim parents to take an understanding approach to their teenage children, to focus on the core values of their faith and not to obsess over a piece of clothing.
“If you know that your girl is good and she practises her faith … then for heaven’s sakes, you know, let the girl have a chance,” she says. That would be good advice for any family…. Moreover, family violence is not a ‘Muslim issue’, in any narrow sense. Or even an ‘immigrant issue’. It is a deeply rooted problem in our society, regardless of race, religion or length of time in Canada.… It is easy to find cases of conflict between parents and teens in families that have been here for generations, who do not profess any particular religion, and who share common cultural values. And occasionally, such conflicts spill over into violence, with tragic results….