Sunday, 29 January 2012

A bittersweet verdict

For months now, I've been following the Shafia trial, which has been going on in Kingston, Ontario.  This trial has the mother, father and brother of three young ladies as well as their father's first wife (he had two wives) on trial for murdering the four women, pushing their car into the canal in Kingston.  It has been presented in the press as an honour killing of the three girls, and essentially a way to get rid of the first wife.  They are Afghani immigrants to Montreal.

What it boiled down to was that the girls were becoming too Canadian. They were assimilating into society, which is what we want immigrants to Canada to do.  Become part of us.  Keep your religion, feel free to keep your traditions that fit with Canadian society, but if you wish to keep all your beliefs and traditions from your home country that do not fit with Canadian mores, please reconsider coming to Canada.

Maybe that seems harsh, but I am for immigration.  I love living in a country where you can go to Toronto right now and join in on celebrations for the lunar new year.  I love living in a country where in the summer you can go to all kinds of festivals.  I love living in a country where your neighbour may be of a different faith or ethnic group than you.  But I do not like the fact that the government has promoted this "keep your traditions!" line that has allowed large enclaves of ethnic groups to live in one area, expect that the are in which they are will function with just that language, that it's possible to not even learn English (or French) because all the stores/restaurants in that are function in that language.  I'm a proponent of being a dual language citizen.  Became part of Canada, not just someone who's here until they can "go back" to somewhere else.  But then, I also have issues with people that come over, fulfill the requirements for citizenship, get citizenship and almost immediately go back to their home country and then use their Canadian citizenship to get evacuated from some incident there, using tax payer money to do so when they've not paid taxes in years.

My biggest thing right now though, is that there are some (granted a minority) that bring cultural behaviours such as honour killings with them to Canada and then can't seem to figure out why this is not okay here.  Or, as in the case of the Shafia's, seem to lie.  When the police and Children's Aid are saying they've had reports, when the schools are saying things were not good and that at least one of the daughters made comments about her safety, and then after their deaths the parents say "but they were so happy!" there's some major disconnect between what was reality for those girls and what was the perceived reality by the parents. Or someone is outright lying.

Honestly, after reading everything, I believe that they did it.  I believe that their son had just as much to do with it.  I believe that the jury should find them guilty.  I believe it was an honour killing.  And I believe that it paints a horrible picture of Muslims to the average Canadian.  I am hoping that the average Canadian can distinguish between culture and religion, because this is one of those cases where there is a massive gap between culture and religion.

Honour killings are not part of Islam.  They occur all over the Middle East and Southeast Asia.  They have happened more than once within the Sikh community on Canada's west coast.  They're not part of any religion.  They're purely cultural.

But as I write this, the father, mother and brother of Zainab, Sahar and Geeti Shafia and the husband, co-wife and stepson of Rona Mohammad have been found guilty of first degree murder on all counts.  It is a bittersweet verdict.  It is a verdict that I had hoped for, a verdict that I wanted in order to avenge the deaths of these four women who had in reality done not a thing wrong that deserved their deaths.  Maybe the girls had done something unliked, but unliked does not mean that their lives needed to end.  They were teenagers - Geeti was just 13.  Teenagers rebel and then they grow up.  Maybe rebelling is unheard of in Afghanistan, but they were no longer in Afghanistan and they needed to understand that they were not in Afghanistan and that their children, growing up in Canada, were growing up Canadian.

And maybe now they understand that.  But somehow, based on the comments that their father made, I doubt he will ever see he did anything wrong, even as he spends the next 25+ years sitting in a Canadian prison.  Even has his 21 year old son wastes the rest of his life in prison because he was stuck in his parents Afghani ways as well.  And their mother will probably continue as she did on the stand, deluding herself into thinking that she really wasn't a part of it, that it never really happened.

But for now, my prayers are with Geeti, Sahar, Zainab and Rona.  They are the ones that need to be remembered right now.  And today, they are the ones whose deaths have been vindicated by these guilty verdicts.  May Allah grant them jannah.

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