JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shelton Bell stood out at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville.
Not because he was a strawberry blonde American who converted to Islam. It was more because of the way he dressed — in headgear that resembled garb worn by remote tribes in Afghanistan — and mostly because of what he said.
In mid-2012, a parent was concerned that Bell, who now faces federal terrorism charges, was “in conversation with his son about inciting violence and talking about jihad and talking about weapons,” said Parvez Ahmed, the center’s board secretary.
Mosque leaders called the FBI, setting into motion a case that came to light this week. Bell, now 19, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He faces up to 15 years in prison for each of the two charges.
On Dec. 10, 2007, Asqa Parvez’s father called 911 saying he had killed her. When police arrived, they found Ms. Parvez’s mother crying hysterically and her father with blood on his hands.
In a Brampton courtroom last week, Ms. Parvez’s father, Muhammad Parvez, 60, and her brother, Waqas Parvez, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. They will be sentenced to 25 years in prison. When asked by his wife why he had killed their daughter, Ms. Parvez said her husband told her: “My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked.”
Observers say the case, among the first so-called honor killings to gain widespread attention in Canada, will cast a spotlight on generational strains that can tear at families adapting to a new culture. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said it’s a particularly pernicious form of murder to kill a member of one’s own family for cultural reasons.
Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah said the guilty plea is a wake-up call for parents to understand that young women are not the possessions of men. Muslim leaders who do not call Ms. Parvez’s murder an honour killing are avoiding the real issue, Mr. Fatah said.
The term “honour” killing is under debate in many Western countries, including in Mississauga, Ontario, where the father and brother of teenager Aqsa Parvez will soon appear in court charged with her killing last December. The term itself, claims Craig Offman in this National Post article, is already on trial and remains a sensitive topic within multicultural societies. Critics argue the term is inherently racist and distracts from the issue of domestic violence. Others claim it remains critical to gaining understanding of motive and making it off limits undermines a community’s ability to acknowledge this particular abuse.
Toronto Life magazine created controversy last week in suggesting on its cover that Ms. Parvez’s strangulation was “Toronto’s first honour killing” and featured a story describing how her father Muhammad insisted his daughter remain modest before allegedly participating in her death.
Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)
The brother of a teenage girl from Mississauga, Ontario who was strangled to death, apparently for failing to wear a hijab, was charged with first-degree murder. Waqas Parvez, 27, was initially charged with obstruction of justice in the death of Aqsa Parvez, 16, in December 2007. Aqsa is the youngest of eight children. Her father, Muhammed Parvez, 57, was initially charged with second-degree murder; earlier this month, the charge was upgraded to first-degree. Police have refused to comment whether the death was over the headscarf and a fight over traditional culture. Muhammed Parvez’s lawyer, Joseph Ciraco, has said there is more to the story than just cultural issues.
A fear of misrepresentation and exotification of Muslims has sparked calls for Western filmmakers to halt projects about Islam and Muslims. Filmmakers such as Parvez Sharma and Ruhi Hamid, both cite the heightened interest in Islam post 9/11, and their frustration with stereotyped images, partial representations, and the lack of awareness of the complexities of religion for Muslims. Both Hamid and Sharma have dedicated themselves to representing Muslims and Islam in ways that are not usually known – the socio-cultural contexts of issues, sexuality, and the challenges of being gay and lesbian and practicing Muslims at the same time.
WASHINGTON: American Muslims have launched an advertising campaign to denounce acts of terrorism after bombers believed to be British Muslims killed at least 54 people in attacks on London. Any effort by terrorists to hide their criminal activities under the mask of religious piety is being categorically and unequivocally rejected by mainstream Muslims, said Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said the television ad, which will air nationwide by July 19, is an attempt to detach Islam from the heinous acts of a few Muslims. Police believe the attacks are linked to Al Qaeda, the Islamic militant group behind the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the Madrid train bombings last year. Backlash is a concern … but it’s not our main motive, said CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed. Our main motivation lies with making sure our position is clear where Islam stands on terrorism. The 30-second public service spot, called Not in the Name of Islam, features two American Muslim women and religious leader Imam Johari Abdul-Malik. We often hear claims Muslims don’t condemn terrorism and that Islam condones violence, they say. As Muslims, we want to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam are betraying the teachings of the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. We reject anyone – of any faith – who commits such brutal acts and will not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals. Islam is not about hatred and violence. It’s about peace and justice. The director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, John Voll, welcomed the campaign. I think Americans, especially these days … are justified in being fearful of the suicidal violence attempts by extremist fanatics in many different traditions, he said. It is counterproductive for Americans to then focus their fear on the people who are probably their closest allies, and that is average, mainstream Muslims.