The father and brother of Aqsa Parvez, a Muslim Canadian teenager who was killed in December 2007, recently confessed to murdering her and were sentenced to life in prison. Canadian media outlets covered this news widely. At the Toronto Star, one of the reporters writing about the case was Noor Javed, who co-wrote one detailed overview of the case (trigger warning: this article includes detailed descriptions of violence and murder) and also authored another article about whether Parvez’s murder was an “honor killing.” Both articles are disturbing to read, but very detailed and obviously the result of some research and reflection.
Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress (who we have written about previously), has written a particularly insulting response the very fact that Javed was writing on this issue. In a June 22 article in the National Post, he said:
One would have expected the media to have some sensitivity towards the murdered Aqsa Parvez; show some respect for the wishes of the dead child. This is why many Muslim Canadians were enraged when they discovered that the Toronto Star had sent a reporter who has for years advocated and celebrated the hijab and niqab, to cover the guilty pleas of the father-son team that killed Aqsa.
When the Star assigned the story to reporter Noor Javed — who is of Pakistani descent, wears the hijab at work, and has written in glowing terms about her own hijab wardrobe — it was a crass act that reflected at best an ignorance about the case. At worst, it cast insult on the memory of a dead child.
In other words, Fatah is basically implying that Javed’s very identity and self-expression are an affront to Parvez’s memory (I’m not sure exactly who these “many Muslim Canadians” are who agree with him).
Fatah conflates wearing hijab with advocating its imposition–a position Javed very obviously rejected in an article she wrote shortly after Parvez’s death (in fact, the same piece carries a rejection of the entire idea of hijab being at all related to greater levels of piety). Yes, Javed has written about her experiences wearing hijab and is supportive of young women who choose to wear it. In no way does this suggest that she is unsupportive of, let alone hostile to, women who don’t wear it. Fatah paints Javed–and, by extension, all women who wear hijab–as somehow necessarily unable to speak or write about Parvez with any kind of compassion or understanding.