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The current issue of Toronto Life magazine features a cover story on the murder of Aqsa Parvez, the Mississauga teen who was killed last year, allegedly by members of her own family, over a dispute about — well, it’s tough to say what it was about. Toronto Life’s cover calls the murder an “honour killing” because Parvez decided not to wear a hijab, the head covering that some Muslim women wear to observe their religion. As writer Mary Rogan says in her story, there were plenty of other disputes between Aqsa Parvez and her family over all kinds of things, and what truly happened is still frustratingly unclear. But the hijab became the focal point in media reports about the murder last year, because it was an easy-to-grasp symbol that resonated with those Canadians who still feel ambivalent, or outright hostile, to immigrant groups, particularly Muslim immigrants from South Asia.
Last week, a coalition of groups representing women, immigrants, and social service agencies called a press conference in Toronto to formally condemn Toronto Life’s story, calling it racist and Islamophobic. There is also a Facebook group that goes into further on the problems that these readers had with the article.
This podcast features excerpts from my interviews with one of the participants in the press conference, Sumayya Kassamali of the group Our Collective Dreams: Muslim Women Speak Out Against Violence, and with Sarah Fulford, Editor of Toronto Life.