Hijab dispute behind teen’s death, friends say

A Mississauga, Ont. teenager was killed in a family dispute over her choice not to wear traditional Muslim clothing, her friends say.

Aqsa Parvez, 16, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries on Monday after police said a man claiming to be the girl’s father called them and said he had killed his daughter. Parvez succumbed to her injuries on Monday night.

The teen, an Applewood Heights Secondary School student, often complained of her situation at home, her friends told CTV News on Tuesday.

The students said Parvez no longer wanted to wear a hijab, a shoulder-length head scarf worn by some Muslim women. They also said Parvez would often change her clothing once she got to school and then would change back before going home.

Where are Islam’s ‘moderates’?

“It is often said that Islam has been “hijacked” by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates. But where are the moderates? Where are the Muslim voices raised over the terrible injustice of incidents like these?” — Ayaan Hiri Ali in, Islam’s Silent Moderates

“People said her brothers and sisters followed her to see if she was wearing her headscarf or not,” one student said.

Parvez had recently been staying with a friend because of tension at home, classmates said.

“Her dad was threatening her and she was getting scared and she just didn’t want to live there anymore,” another student said.

The victim’s father has been charged with murder, while the girl’s brother has been charged with obstructing police.

Police have not commented on a possible motive and are keeping tight-lipped as to how the teen was attacked.

Students, staff remember slain teen

A spokesperson for the Peel District School Board said officials will look into the situation to see if there’s something they can learn to help ease cultural transitions for students in the future.

“We will want to see what we can learn from this,” Sylvia Link, the board’s manager of communications told CTV.ca. “If there is anything that we can learn from this incident that will prevent it from happening in the future, we’ll do what we can to keep our students safe.”

Link said the board already helps students learn about other cultures by organizing events such as Black History Month.

In fact, Parvez helped organize the school’s last Black History Month event.

“She had friends from all kinds of different backgrounds,” Link said.

Aside from describing her as popular and vivacious, Link said Parvez showed great interest in the arts, particularly fashion. She was enrolled in a photography and fashion course at the school.

Counsellors were at the school Tuesday to help students and staff deal with the grief, Link said.

A memorial table was also set up at the front of the school where friends of the slain teen could write their memories, put up pictures, leave flowers and mementos.

“Aqsa was honestly the brightest girl around,” wrote one student inside a memory book. “She had the biggest smile and was the happiest person in school. She loved to dance and take pictures.”

“No matter what, there was always happiness inside you,” wrote another student. “You always knew how to make people smile even when you weren’t yourself.”

Link said staff at the school were shocked when they heard the news.

“There is no way to describe the shock and grief a school experiences when it loses a student to a tragedy like this,” she said. “Our focus today is helping support staff and students.”

An announcement was made early in the morning and two letters, one for students and another for their parents is expected to go home with the kids at the end of the day.

Muhammad Parvez, 57, appeared in a Brampton court on Tuesday charged with murder.

Waqas Parvez, 26, is also charged in the investigation with obstructing police.

With a report from CTV’s John Musselman

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday December 12, 2007.
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