Monday, November 10, 2008

Call to Action: Toronto Life’s Misrepresentation of Aqsa’s Parvez’s murder

Activists in Toronto are calling for people to raise their voices on issues of violence against women, racism, and Islamophobia. Specifically, they are concerned with the coverage by Toronto Life magazine of the murder of Aqsa Parvez, a young Muslim girl who was killed in her home in Mississauga last winter. There is a media conference in Toronto tomorrow (November 11, 2008) but there are also a number of ways that people from across the country and around the world can express their concerns about how this tragic event has been misrepresented through the use of harmful stereotypes by Toronto Life.

Here is the callout:

Don’t Believe the Hype!!! Call to Action against Toronto Life’s Misrepresentation of Aqsa’s Parvez’s Murder

Join Us in Calling Toronto Life on their Misrepresentation of Aqsa Parvez’s Murder

The December 2008 edition of Toronto Life features the story of Aqsa Parvez, a young Muslim girl who was killed in her home in Mississauga last winter (

While featuring Aqsa’s story is recognition of a young woman’s life cut tragically short, the Toronto Life article perpetuates common stereotypes about Muslim and immigrant communities, diverting attention from the urgent issue of violence against women across Canada.

On Tuesday November 11th, join us in a “Don’t’ Believe the Hype” Campaign! We are asking you to raise your voice on the important issue of violence against women, racism, and Islamophobia.

Get Involved in Three Ways!!

1) EMAIL or PHONE Toronto Life Editor in Chief, Sarah Fulford. Once you do that, call up five of your friends and get them to do the same. You can reach Ms. Fulford at 416-364-3333 ext 3063, or

WHEN? Between 9am – 9pm on Tuesday November 11th (If that doesn't work for you, anytime is better than never!)

WHY? Violence against women, racism, and Islamophobia are issues that affect all of us in diverse and important ways. Join us in voicing your concerns and helping to call attention to misrepresentations that are all too common in our media

WHAT TO EXPECT? This number 416-364-3333 ext 3063 will take you directly to Sarah Fulford’s office, where her assistant will either pick up, or you will be put through to her assistant's voicemail. You can leave a personal message or voicemail recording for her assistant to pass on to Ms. Fulford.

WHAT TO SAY? Identify who you are and where you are from. State that you are leaving a message for the Sarah Fulford, Editor In Chief and express your dismay with the article on Aqsa Parvez. Bonus Points: Talk about a personal experience that proves to you why addressing this issue is so important and urgent.

Here are a couple of talking points about the article that may help. Feel free to use them directly or make up your own:

1) Aqsa’s murder must be looked at through the larger context of violence against women in Canada. The problem is not limited to any one community or religious faith.

2) The article calls Aqsa’s murder “Toronto’s first honour killing”. Approximately 25 women a year are murdered in incidents of domestic violence. The use of the term "honour killing" is an attempt to sensationalize the situation by invoking common stereotypes about the prevalence of "honour killings" among South Asian Muslim families, thereby suggesting that domestic violence is not occurring at alarming rates across Canada. Instead, we should be working to end violence against all women.

3) The article associates Muslim religiousity with a tendency towards violence. In other words, the more religious a Muslim is, the more likely s/he is to engage in this type of violence. This is false and based on Islamophobic stereotyping.

4) The question, “Has multiculturalism gone too far?” suggests that Muslims and immigrants are threats to Canadian society, rather than contributing members to Canadian society. The idea that “our” tolerance or respect for cultural diversity has let “them” continue their oppressive and dangerous behaviours is not only based on racist and Islamophobic stereotyping of diverse Muslim and immigrant communities, but also ignores the ongoing racism that exists in Canada despite our public commitment to multiculturalism.

5) The focus should be on violence against women, not hijab. The article sets up a false dichotomy between Muslim women who wear the hijab as oppressed and Muslim women who do not wear the hijab as liberated. Furthermore, it reinforces the idea that all young girls want the same things, completely ignoring the diversity and richness of Muslim women's voices and lived experiences.

2) COME TO THE SPEAK OUT AND PRESS CONFERENCE on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 at 10:30 AM at YWCA located at 80 Woodlawn Avenue East, Main Lounge. Panelists include representatives of: Muslim Young Women, Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence against Women and Children, Urban Alliance on Race Relations. For more information contact
416-703-6607 x 3

3) SUBMIT TO THE AQSA ZINE # 1. It is s a grassroots zine that is open to all 13-35 year old young women who self-identify as Muslim. This issue’s theme is self-defense and resistance. It is a creative avenue for us to express ourselves, share our own experiences, and connect with others. Submissions deadline is December 1, 2008. Blog:

If you are on Facebook, you can find out more about this issue here. Please take a few minutes and act!


Blazing Cat Fur said...

You might wanna read this Sport, you may find it a bit more balanced:
Aqsa Parvez’s murdering father and brother facing justice - Daily Times Pakistan

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

"Sport"? You've got to be kidding...

Anyway, thanks for the link. I'm unclear about what point you are making by posting it, though...are you in support of the action that anti-racist feminists in Toronto have put together to oppose violence against women and racism? Do you oppose it? Why?

Scott said...

Ah. After a little poking around, I have answered my own question: I suspect the person who left the first comment above is very much opposed to the action by anti-racist feminists in Toronto...if indeed it is the same person, it is someone with a long history of anti-Muslim racism in online venues. I'm still not clear on the point this person is trying to make by linking the article in is pretty brief and shallow in terms of social context, and I suppose it reads quite easily into a kind of "clash of civilizations" frame. Perhaps the poster hopes that readers take it up in that way, so it can draw people's attention away from the difficult but crucial questions about violence against women, racism, and Islamophobia being raised by the activists in Toronto.

Blazing Cat Fur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blazing Cat Fur said...

Nah we just get a kick out of pokin the pseudo-left islamist alliance in the eye with a sharp stick;)

Previous post edited to correct spelling.

Carry on.

Scott said...

Well, poke away if it makes you happy.

Not sure if it does a whole lot of damage to my eye, though, for you to make strange and unsupportable assertions about what it means to support organizing against violence against women and racism that is lead by people who experience both.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Hey Sport, have a look at this piece in the Post, it'll be an eye-opener;)

Sarah Jafri on Toronto Life, Aqsa Parvez, and the unspoken epidemic of domestic abuse in Pakistani-Canadian households

Scott said...

Again, I think you fundamentally misunderstand the objections being raised by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and others in Toronto...of course there is gendered violence going on in South Asian Canadian homes, just as there is in homes in many different parts of Canadian society, and of course there are going to be specificities in terms of how that happens and is experienced, and of course there are going to be young women in those homes who rightfully rage against the impositions on their lives from patriarchy within the family (and simultaneously from patriarchy and white supremacy in the broader society)...this is true of distressingly many families in Canada of all racial backgrounds...the question is, how do we understand experiences like Aqsa Parvez's and Sarah Jafri's in a larger social context? Understanding them in ways that erases pervasive patriarchal violence and oppression throughout Canadian society, and that erases the ways in which racism, immigration regulations, and state multiculturalism have shaped the social organization of immigrant communities and immigrant lives in gendered ways, is not going to be a useful path towards ending gendered and racial violence.