Aqsa Parvez – a martyr of ‘official multiculturalism’
One year ago today, Aqsa Parvez, a girl on the cusp of womanhood – was brutally murdered by her family because she dared to make a choice: to be herself. Now, her body lies in an unmarked grave – no name, no picture, just #774…
The story of Aqsa Parvez touches me very deeply. I am an immigrant who successfully integrated into the mainstream society – despite the disaproval from some members of my cultural community. December 10th is the anniversary of when I arrived in Canada. Aqsa and I both desired freedom. The date which marks the beginning of my life in freedom is the very same as on which hers ended- what a tragic irony!
Aqsa’s tragedy reminds me of probably the smartest, most intelligent person I had ever met. She went to University with me and my husband – and graduated with the highest marks in her Engineering class. A year or so after University, she met up with my husband and me and told us she just got engaged to a distant relative in the Pakistani community in England.
She had met him once, for about an hour, and they talked. She said thay both shared similar background: growing up in a traditional family, needing to always be trying to balance their expectations and their desire to be part of the mainstream culture. She thought this would be a good common ground from which they could build a relationship which balanced all these pressures. So, both of them told their families they will agree to the marriage.
That was the last time we saw her or heard from her. I was no longer allowed by her family to communicate with her – even to give her a wedding present my husband and I got for her. Nor would they accept the present from us and forward it on to her. We have no idea what happened to her. Back then, we did not really understand it – so we were puzzled, instead of frightened for her. Now it is too late to find her. So, when I see Aqsa, I see my friend, too, and wonder what her fate is.
What happened to Aqsa – and my friend – and what continues to happen to many other men and women and children - is a scathing denunciation of our official multiculturalism, because this is where the road of official multiculturalism necessarily leads.
Aqsa Parvez was murdered because she dared to cross the boundaries of multiculturalism’s cultural apartheid!
The difficulty with ‘official multiculturalism’ is that is actively works to prevent the integration of immigrants into mainstream culture (or between different groups within one culture). It is difficult enough to integrate as it is, but when there are official, semi-official, or, ‘officially tolerated’ barriers added, overcoming these real and artificial barriers becomes very difficult to achieve. In Aqsa’s case, it proved impossible!
In effect, multiculturatsm introduces something very similar to a caste system. A ‘cultural cast’ system, if you will. If you are in one pidgeonhole, then you are judged according to these rules, if you are in a different pidgeonhole, a different set of rules applies! And never the two shall meet!
I have criticized this in the past, because it gives the leaders of the immigrant’s ‘cultural community’ power over the newcomer – and impacts how the integration will happen. It often traps people into the same cultural norms they had fought hard to escape from!
And while I do not advocate ‘assimilation’ – which would require an immigrant to abandon who they were before coming here – it is essential that we ensure successful ‘integration’ of new immigrants! Without learning how to succesfully interact with people in the mainstream culture, without the opportunity to create social bonds outside of their narrow ‘cultural community’, the new immigrants will, in fact, become ghettoized!
Policing in a multicultural society becomes difficult, too. Each ‘cultural minority’ is taught not to identify with the over-arching state and its structures. Many of the people within these communities are victimized by their neighbours – but seeking police protection has come to be seen as a betrayal of one’s own cultural community… So, immigrant communities become not just socially isolated – they become legally isolated, too. And very, very vulnerable…
It is time to call ‘official multiculturalism’ by its proper name: CULTURAL APARTHEID!
Equal, but separate!
We were not willing to tolerate this bigotry when the divisions were based on skin colour! Does a person control the culture into which they are born any more than they control the colour of their skin?
So, please, can someone explain to me why should we now be bullied into tolerating apartheid based on culture?
Because, at both its philosophical core and in its practice, that is exactly what multiculturalism is!
Political Correctness be damned – I will say it, true and direct, because if I do not, my fellow Canadians will continue to suffer. (I apologize for my rough language, but I really get worked up about this!)
Wearing a headscarf has nothing to do with Islam. There are plenty of good Muslimas who choose not to wear one! We must get this straight, because wearing a headscarf is not a religious custom, it is a cultural one. Yet, some people truly believe that it is part of Islam – and if we ignore this connection, we can never hope to improve this situation!
This needs to be addressed: both the role of the scarf (hijab) and the relative roles within the family, whatever the religious or cultural background. We are all citizens, with certain rights that must not be taken away from us. Regardless of my belief (cultural, religious or anything else) in my rightness in doing something – if it is against our secular laws, no amount of ‘religious tolerance’ or ‘cultural tolerance’ can excuse such an action!
I am very happy to say, Canadian Muslim leaders – from the moderate and brilliant Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress to the ultra-conservative and extremely controversial Imam Syed Soharwardy – have spoken up to openly condemn what happened to Aqsa Parvez…. from robbing her of her life to the dishonour of burrying her in an unmarked grave!
It is time for all of us to have a critical, realistic look at what are the practical results of official multiculturalism? Has it helped our society? Has it helped immigrants? Has it helped anyone but the bureaucrats who make a career out of administering it?
The data from the experiment of ‘multiculturalism’ is in - let us see how the numbers add up!
It seems pretty clear they add up to #774!