I was really saddened this week when I read about the death of 16 year old Aqsa Parvez, allegedly murdered by her father. I was having a bad week to begin with and events like this don't help any of us. To me it is purely a case of domestic abuse and not an issue of immigration, race or religion. Nonetheless, the blogospere swarmed on the story, and honestly I found a lot of the commentary quite disgusting.
Unfortunately this tragedy is being used as a wedge in the ongoing Islamophobia that our society has steadily descended into since September 11, 2001.
I grew up with a friend whom I'll call B. When we were children our fathers were good friends so we saw each other a lot. I don't know how our fathers met. B's father was a WWII Pow in Hong Kong and had life long health problems because of the starvation and torture he endured. After my father passed away I didn't see B nearly as much. B and myself and our families were remarkably alike. Born in the 60's, white protestants, United Church, Boy Scouts of Canda, parents who moved into the new suburbs of Edmonton to raise their new families, etc.
B's mom and my mom occasionally talked and I'd often hear about what he was up to. After high school he had a deep Christian experience and became active in a large Pentecostal church. Neither he nor his family were particularly religious as far as I can remember. Eventually he became a leader in the Church, married and started a family. As some point I lost track of him as he moved to BC.
Sometime in 2006 B was arrested and charged in suspicion of the murder of his 16 year old daughter. I couldn't have been more shocked and saddened by this news. Talk about the last thing you would expect to find out about someone you knew.
The murder did not make the national news. It made the news in the locality where it occurred and made the news in Edmonton, but only because they were from there. The story quickly fell off the media radar and is difficult to find references on the internet at all. I still don't know if B has been convicted and sentenced yet. Last bit of information was the judge sending him off for a Psych evaluation.
When this crime occurred there was not widespread swarming in the blogosphere. No one made broad sweeping hate filled comments about Pentecostals. No one demanded that B go back where he came from. No one blamed it on the fact that B refused to assimilate into our way of life. (An Orwellian term if there ever was one. ) No one cried moral outrage because Pentecostal leaders did not hold press conferences to denounce the crime.
I'm afraid I find this contrast slightly jarring and not particularly flattering to our attitudes. I grieve for an old friend and his family. And I grieve for another family that I do not know who in addition to all else, has to deal with media glare and tightly focused racism.
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