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February 6, 2012

Canadian values and the Shafia case

Regarding the verdict of Mohammad Shafia, many stories in Canadian newspapers have printed that this has, "captivated Canadians from coast to coast, and touched off post-911 criticism of Muslim culture."

As a Canadian Muslim I unequivocally state that the practice of so called "honour killings" has nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.

In fact, regarding the killing of a female child during a time when female children were often buried alive the holy Quran states, “And when the news of the birth of a female child is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonour or bury her in the Earth? Certainly, evil is their decision” (16:58-59) and "When the female infant, buried alive, is questioned for what crime she was killed" (Quran 81:8-9).

As a Canadian I am concerned that the Media eludes to a parallel between this type of violence and the normative teachings of Islam. However, violence against women is a problem in all cultures, including Canadian culture.

According to Statistics Canada between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008 there were 101,000 visits to various types of women's shelters in Canada.

According to a House of Commons report of family violence, Every 17 minutes in Canada, a sexual assault is committed. 90% of the victims are female. 

An extremely high percentage of Rapists have been found to consume hardcore pornography.  Canada’s registered sales of pornography have reached levels of $1 billion dollars.  The Canadian Government in this respect makes tax revenue off of the trading of women's bodies.

And how have we treated our "First Nations" women and children in the past?  How about the present?  We are proud to say we have "Democracy 250" but it was not democracy for women, or blacks, or Acadian women, or First Nations.  It is clear that the floor of our own house is not entirely clean.

Don't get me wrong, so called "honour killings" are definitely an example of how low the human condition can go.  They happen in various different cultures across the world.  We would probably be surprised to find out how often abuse against children happens in our own "Canadian homes" against "Canadian children" due to perceived "dishonoring" their parents.

Canadians are good people.  My mother and my father were both Canadians.  But we have to be careful how we turn towards blanket statements such as "Canadian Values" and "Canadian Ideals".  These sound good but by being able to simply turn to these "feel good phrases" we turn away from the thousands of Canadian women who are hurting and are in abusive situations. 

"Canadian Values" sounds great when the value is good but what about the examples of where our lives and culture do not live up to the highest standard?  We've had close to 20 murders in metro in one year, our jails are packed, and we have poverty and abuse problem right here in front of us.

The world is not black and white, good and evil, Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers.  It would be simple if it was, then all bad guys would have a beard and wear a long Middle Eastern dress and speak an Arabic dialect, and the women would wear a headscarf and pray on their faces.

Remember, when we point the finger at someone 3 are pointing back at us!

In the response to 9/11, millions of innocent women and children across the world have felt the mighty wrath of "the war on terror". To again tie the religion of millions and millions of Muslim women across the world who have found great empowerment and strength in these teachings, belittles the pain and suffering of the women and children under our own care! 

Do you think the government would decline to accept the taxation revenue it makes off of someone's mother or daughter who perhaps due to economic destitution agrees to be paid a few measly dollars to strip for us?  Is this not in itself economic oppression against women? 

Do we protect the rights of women by spending trillions of dollars in North American military spending to "protect her rights" rather than feeding her people? 

By continuing to make money off the flesh of our own mothers and daughters and by turning a blind eye to our own record of the treatment of women we have no right to preach from the mountains that we value women more than other people!

Jesus, peace be upon him, said, "Take thy log out of your own eye before taking the splinter out of your brother's"

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M. Elmasry

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