Thursday, July 30, 2009

Does shooting an abortion doctor qualify as an "honour killing"?

I've continued making the rounds at Blogging Tories, soaking up what I can of conservative commentary and opinion. For many right wing thinkers, the alleged "honour killing" of four Muslim women in Kingston must seem like manna from heaven.

There's a pervasive theory making the rounds that the Muslim world is attempting to infiltrate western society, much like a Trojan horse. The argument goes that through heavy immigration and a disproportional birth rate, that Muslims will eventually wield enough political clout to remake Canada into an Islamic nation. Like many conspiracy theories it reeks of paranoia.

While immigrants often have difficulty in assimilating with the broader culture, subsequent generations have always gravitated away from the customs of their ancestry. My forebearers were Irish, a bunch of dumb Micks if you will. My great, great, great grandfather was likely considered a 'lyin', thievin', drunkin' idolater'. In Toronto signs with "Irish Need Not Apply" were not uncommon.

Any excuse to cast immigrants in a negative light is always seized upon by those who are small minded. When an Irishman murdered someone a hundred years ago, it was seen as justification for racist and intolerant attitudes towards that group. "See...I told you that's what the Irish are like"!

This tragic event in Kingston has given the conservative element a lightening rod to rage against Islam and its adherents. In today's Toronto Sun, columnist and bloggingtory Monte Solberg took full advantage with a piece entitled: Deaths put spotlight on Muslims

An opportunity to cast Muslims as villains is not to be missed, especially for those with an axe to grind. And so this former Reform/Alliance MP and Conservative cabinet minister makes no apologies for taking the widest brush possible to the entire Islamic faith, and the culture to which many of its adherents belong. Here's a sampling:

In this case the question isn't whether honour killing is sanctioned in the Qur'an. The question is whether honour killing is an unpleasant but acceptable practice for many Muslims...(emphasis mine)

Mr. Solberg attempts to turn this into a broader debate, one which will permit a closer examination of the Islamic faith. That in of itself certainly sounds reasonable. But why use the horrific deaths of four Muslim women as the basis for this discussion?

There are definitely aspects of Muslim faith and culture with which I, (like many others) take issue, particularly the treatment and status of women. But these concerns are not the sole purvey of Islam. Orthodox Judaism is certainly rife with inequality, as are many sects within the Christian faith. When will I be reading a column about Mormon women being forbidden from taking leadership roles within the LDS church?

When Scott Roeder murdered abortion doctor George Tiller, I didn't see media types like Solberg using that tragedy as a sounding board to encourage discussion about intolerant attitudes among many fundamentalist Christians. Muslims aren't alone in having adherents who disregard western laws and values, particularly with respect to the treatment of our female citizens.

Sadly there are all too many stories about murder and abuse of women. Muslims do not have a monopoly on misogyny, there are many women who have been killed by both current and former spouses, and even family members. But when the alleged murderer is Canadian born and bred, examination of the accused's religion is almost never an issue.

If we banned Muslims from entering Canada, would that mean an end to sexism? Hardly.

Canada has a system of laws, and those accused with the murder of these women will bear its brunt if they are found guilty of this crime. No different from the Clifford Olsons and Paul Bernardos currently residing in our jails.

Is Islam an intolerant faith? In my opinion yes. But no more intolerant than Christianity or Judaism in this blogger's opinion. Every faith has its extremists, its zealots...who believe illegal actions can be justified in the eyes of God. Thankfully the extremist element is not as large as some might think. We don't read about honour killings or abortion doctors being murdered every day.

But that won't matter to the xenophobic. It didn't matter a hundred or so years back with the Irish, and little has changed. Ain't progress grand?

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