The National Post reported two cases of murder which it alleges are honour killings. Their coverage of these murders and the editorial written supporting the use of the term ‘honour killing’ are perfect examples of why this term is problematic and should be avoided in journalism unless necessary.

The Post alleges that these murders are honour killings based solely on the fact that they were committed by South Asian men. No statement from police investigations reported this and neither have the perpetrators of this heinous crime made remarks alluding to such an intent.  For all we know at this point , these two murders could have driven by jealousy, anger or revenge. Also interesting to note is that the National Post, to my knowledge, is the only major Canadian newspaper to have reported this story in such light. Perhaps the others ones decided to be a little more cautious before passing judgment.

The problem with the term ‘honour killing’ is that it stereotypes the ethnic background and religious beliefs of the perpetrators . Usage of this term sensationalizes the murder and redirects the anger from the killer to the ethnic or religious community to which they belong. It takes away the real debate, which is on a form of domestic violence, to unnecessary debates on immigration, multiculturalism and religion; none of which are issues at stake. Crimes will take place as long as there are humans in Canada; they might be committed by ethnic immigrants or natives like Karla Hamolka or Russell Williams. Murders motivated by jealousy aren’t labelled ‘jealousy killings’; the same should be applied to other crimes.

Aqsa Parvez’s story is prime example of this phenomenon . She has now become the poster child for groups that attack Islam and demonize Muslims.  Her story is frequently quoted to demonstrate how barbaric Islam is and how backwards its adherents are. This has gotten to the point where many people sincerely believe that Islam endorses or even condones such odious crimes. People fail to see that honour killings are medieval forms of domestic violence and are endorsed by no one. Members of the Sikh community have also committed these crimes in Canada; it obviously doesn’t mean their faith calls for it.

Should we not have an open debate on honour killings if it is a problem in our community? People could also make the argument that generalizations are fair if its reoccurring from a particular group of people. Statistics however point otherwise. Out of  around 5500 homicides committed in the past 9 years,  13 have been honour killings. This is about .23% of all homicides; hardly enough data to make such vast generalizations. At this point, its more important for us to have debates on other forms of domestic violence.

Barbara Kay’s suggestion to introduce specific legislation for honour killings is even more absurd.  She argues that famliy members often aid the father, who usually carries out the killing, and they too should be automatically charged. Again, this generalization is based on the 13 cases in Canada? Such legislation would only be harmful as it would automatically cause innocent family members to become suspects. It would also cause investigators to make assumptions about the crime without evidence to support it and would compromise its validity.  For example, they might throw the book at the father automatically while it might have actually been the mother who was responsible.

This suggestion was rightfully turned down by the courts who said that a murder is a murder, regardless of motive. Just like we don’t have specific legislation for crimes of passion and jealousy, we shouldn’t have one for honour killings. Each crime is to be treated by on a case by case basis . We ought to trust the justice system to be competent enough to identify the criminals and exact on the them the punishment they deserve.

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Following the lead of German Chancellor, Angela Markel, Prime Minister David Cameron took a stab at the multiculturalism debate during a speech on extremism at the Munich Security Conference. Like the Chancellor, who was sharing the stage with him, he too concluded that multiculturalism had failed in Britain and identified it as a catalyst to extremism. While Markel only implied that Muslims were the culprits, Cameron stated this quite frankly.

Perhaps it was the 6-hour lunch with the Chancellor that led the PM to make such accusations, but it is quite clear that he feels Muslims in Britain aren’t British enough. In his simplistic attempt to point out the cause of extremism amongst British Muslim youth, he blamed state sponsored multiculturalism which encourages people to live separate lives instead of assimilating with the mainstream.

David Cameron’s conclusions are flawed on levels too many enumerate. To begin with, the accusation that British Muslims live isolated lives and aren’t a part of the mainstream is completely absurd. Muslims have been a part of Britain since Victorian times and have especially played an active role in society over the last half century. They are successful politicians, lawyers, doctors, social workers, artists and athletes. From cricketers like Naseer Hussain to musicians like Yusuf Islam, there isn’t a walk a life that Muslims have left untouched. Peter Sanders explored this very theme in his exhibit, ‘The Art of Integration’, something I would strongly recommend for David Cameron.

Another thing Mr. Cameron overlooks is our natural inclination as human beings to cling onto people with shared values, customs and beliefs. Just like goths hangout with goths and homosexuals thrive in certain parts of the city, similarly, Muslims too have a subculture that they find easier to relate too. Would the former groups be the next ones to be accused of not integrating into wider society? British Muslims have their own unique identity and to dismiss this as separatism is simply injustice. While preaching for liberal democratic values, the Prime Minister wants to eradicate individualism and wants to everyone to be a part of the mainstream? Am I the only one seeing the irony in this?

While I would agree that isolation from the mainstream community is the type of the environment that would fuel extremism, I disagree that this isolation exists because of a lack of shared national values. It exists because of the constant dehumanization of Muslims and uninterrupted bigotry that they are faced with. It is because of movements like the English Defense League and politicians like Geert Wilders whose sole aim is to spread fear mongering. As a result of this prejudice and constant stereotyping in the media, anti-Muslim sentiments have become increasingly acceptable in the UK. When society as a whole sees you as the ‘other’, it is only natural for you to isolate yourself from society.

It’s perplexing to see the Prime Minister of a country as old as Britain, with its rich history and timeless legacy, questioning national identity. This is a reflection of the insecurity felt not only in Britain but all across Europe. With David Cameron’s strong nationalistic tone and a call for assimilation into mainstream society, it seems like he won’t settle for anything less than Muslim women taking on the Union Jack for a headscarf.

Also published at Iqra


American Idol, American Apparel, American Idiot, America this and America that. Why is there never a Canada something? ‘American Eagle’ is pretty popular in Canada; but how come no ones opened up a store called the ‘Canadian Beaver’? Would such a store be popular amongst Americans? Why is the 1st of July not celebrated with as much pride as the 4th of July? Why did a Canadian not think of writing ‘Born on the 1st of July’? (Pamela Anderson could have written that one…)

I am trying to point out the fact that Canadians aren’t as patriotic as the Americans. I hope I don’t offend anyone, but I think it’s true. A lot of people aren’t even sure what Canadian really is. So why is it that way? People would say because a big percentage of the population descends from immigrant parents or are recent immigrants. It is true, early Canadians (excluding First Nations, who btw in my opinion are the ‘Real Canadians’) emigrated from parts of Europe and later Canadians from parts Asia. One might argue that it was due to this mix of ethnicities that people failed to come together to create a Canadian identity. Perhaps it was not possible for them to pledge allegiance to two nations at the same time. However, this argument does not work because the American population has a similar history as well. In fact, America has a larger immigrant population and has historically attracted more immigrants than Canada. If anything, their population is more diverse as, unlike in Canada, they have a larger black population as well.

The other reason might be because Canada is not as old as America. Its true, America is approximately a hundred years older than Canada. However, Canada is still a 141 year old country…that is a pretty old. There are countries which are a lot younger than Canada, but the people are more patriotic than the average Canadian. So that argument doesn’t work either.

So what is the real reason Americans are more patriotic than Canadians? WAR! That’s right. After a lot thinking I have concluded that the reason why Americans are more patriotic is because of the numerous wars they have fought. It sounds sad, but this violent and dreadful activity is actually what helps give the Americans their identity. They take pride in how their forefathers died in the War of Independence or during the World Wars defending their country. Numerous books, movies and songs deal with this subject matter and help instill patriotism amongst its American citizens. In fact, I would go as far as saying that war is what helps bring out patriotism in any country. It is a part of a country’s cultural heritage and the lack of it leads to a weaker culture.

Canada doesn’t have that. No war had to be fought for Canada’s independence; it was formed as a result of a series of meetings. And even after it was formed, it had strong ties with Britain and was part of the British Empire. Canada didn’t even have its own flag until 1965 i.e. 98 years after confederation. Every time Canada’s been to war it has never fought for its self, but for some one else. During the World Wars it participated because of Britain and it’s in Afghanistan due to American pressure. So I think it is the lack of bloody wars due to which the average Canadian isn’t as patriotic. If you think about it, what are some of the things Canadians take pride in? The War of 1812 and Vimy Ridge! So there you go, I think my theory checks out. Canada is a great nation and I am proud of the fact that it is a peaceful country, but I guess peace comes at a price too. (Modern peace keeping is a Canadian invention!)


It sounds funny when you first read the title, but the discrimination of white people is a reality which is usually ignored. Most people think it is only coloured people that experience discrimination but white people are victims of this disease as well. Sure the issue is no where as serious as that of other coloured races but white discrimination definitely exists.

 

Ever wonder why there isn’t a white history month or a Caucasian awareness week? Discrimination! plus also because white people don’t care enough. Any signs of ‘white pride’ are usually interpreted as white supremacy. It’s okay for a black guy to wear a t-shirt saying ‘Proud to be Black’ but if a white guy wears a ‘Proud to be White’ t-shirt, that person would either get laughed at or would fall into the stereotypical category of ‘the ignorant white guy’. The double standards in our society are endless.

 

What was the last time you saw a white person working at a business run by non-white immigrants? One reason why you don’t see that often is because immigrants prefer hiring from with in the family/community to strengthen the immigrant community as it is already comprised of a lot of low income families. However, another reason for that is pure discrimination. Now I am not saying all immigrant families are racist, but a good chunk of them are; and not just to white people, sometimes even to people of the same race as them!(trust me, its true). This could be because they haven’t been raised in a multi-cultural society and therefore might not be as accepting of other races.

 

A lot of big corporations tend to advertise how ‘diverse’ their work force is. I personally believe they do it because it is good PR. Their company looks better this way and at the end it’s really all about making more money. Diversity translates to colour and that means that the person responsible for hiring would lean towards hiring someone who is coloured, even if there is a white person that might be better than the non-white candidate. I love multiculturalism but I don’t think race has anything to do with competency. 

 

At the end, I don’t believe this is a big issue; my point is that it exists and is just as wrong as discriminating black people. The reason most white people don’t bring this up is a) because they don’t even realize it b) a lot of them still feel guilty for what their ancestors have done to other races and feel bad bringing it up. ‘Collective guilt’, as Hamza Yusuf puts it, is a disease plaguing our society and we need to get rid of it.

 


I found this really cool essay on the internet. Several people are considered to be its authors but I have boiled it down to Minister Dr. Bob Moorehead after some research. Its apparently been on the internet since 1999 but I just found it recently. The essay is very well written and depicts the sad reality of the society we live in.

The paradox of our time in history is that…
 
We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers.
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
We spend more, but  have less.
We buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families.
More conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense.
More knowledge,  but less judgment.
More experts, but more problems.
More medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly,
laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly,
stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little,
watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. 
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life;
We’ve added years to life, not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space;
We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less;
We plan more, but accomplish less;
We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait;
We have higher incomes, but lower morals;
We have more food, but less appeasement;

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure,but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit delete…