Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Aqsa: The farthest light.

Aqsa, whoever named you probably did not mean for this to happen. Your name tragically has come true today. Today, you are far, far away from what you seem to have hated the most: the feeling of being trapped. My thoughts lie with you today, and I hope afterlife or whatever comes after life turns out to be better for you.

I was on the subway yesterday and in front of me sat a mother and 3 young girls. Almost certainly the three girls had not yet hit puberty. The youngest one was barely 4 years old. That really bothered me. All of them wore a hijab.

I am not Muslim, but I have read a little about the Islamic Religion. And as far as I know Muslim girls are supposed to decide on their own once they hit puberty whether or not they want to wear the head scarf. There are many websites online which discuss the pros and cons of wearing the hijab. The woman who have written on these posts all have a mind of their own and all speak for themselves. There are women who dont wear the scarf but are thinking about it. There are women who wear the scarf but regret making that decision years ago. There are mothers who have always worn the hijab, and dont want their daughters to.

Yeah, I can be naive and believe that all Muslim women have a choice. But I'd be wrong. In many cases there is the pressure of the norm. For example, if I was brought up in a conservative family wherein my mother, my aunts, my sisters all wore the hijab, I would definitely be under much more pressure to "decide" to wear the hijab when the time came.

I used to have a friend who wore the hijab, she had three younger sisters, none of whom who had decided to wear the hijab. By the time she finished University she had decided to also abandon the hijab. She was not a different person, she was the same funloving girl, except now we all got to see her hair.

I also know a girl who was one of the most timid girls I knew, she wore a hijab. Slowly as she went through University she went through an amazing change of personality. The last change was when she shed the hijab, and decided to cut her hair "short" to shoulder length.

I have a close friend, who is a mother of three children and wears the hijab. She has an amazing personality. She wrote two children's books, was a Part Time student Governor of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto and just recently was a candidate in the Ontario Provincial Election. She well-spoken, articulate, and speaks with fiery passion.

Many western feminists believe that the hijab is oppressive, that covering a woman's head inhibits their growth. Media portrayal also helps a little bit in this case. In reality though I doubt that is true in its entirety. Like so many arguments that deal with cultural tug-of-wars not everything in this argument is black and white. So, as I am not a muslim woman, I will refrain from commenting on what women in Islam should or should not do.

It is true crazy fanatics like Aqsa'a father, Parvez do exist. From the way that CBC online reads it seems to be evident that the fanaticism is being seamlessly passed down to his son, Waqas. But these fanatics do not just exist in the Islamic Religion. They exist amongst the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Christians, the Jews and every other religion on this planet. However, this is simply not just a question of religious fanaticism, it is also a situation of domestic violence against women and children perpetrated by men behind the closerd doors of a household. Violence is so rampant in our society. I wish I could ask what were Aqsa's mom and other siblings doing when she was being killed by her father?

Aqsa's story should not become a reason for so many to hate all Muslims as fanatics. I just hope that all the Aqsa's who feel trapped in a household of any religion, dont feel pressured to do what they are told to do. Being in Canada means, that women and children have the basic human right to their own opinions. Aqsa's death should remind parents of their basic duty to their children: to provide protection to their offspring.

Rest In Peace Aqsa. I hope you have found in death what you were searching for in Life.

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