Was Toronto Life right?: D.B. Scott

On his Canadian Magazines blog, D.B. Scott looks at a controversial
2008 Toronto Life cover
that depicts a sexy photo of Muslim teen Aqsa Parvez and suggests her death was
an honour killing. Now that Parvez’ father and brother had pleaded
guilty to her murder, do any of the criticisms against the magazine
still stand?

Aqsa ParvezD.B. Scott writes:

“The [December 2008 Toronto Life] story was denounced for perpetuating cultural stereotypes about
Muslim and immigrant communities. And there was a blizzard of comments,
some about the language used, some about the slant of the story, some
about the editorial practices of the magazine. Is there anything in the
final outcome that changes any of those commenters’ minds?”

Back in 2008, Scott wrote about the controversy. He quoted a reader complaint that summed up the furious response from the Muslim community:

“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.”

In response, Scott wrote:

“Having read the story by Mary Rogan, my own view is that most of it is a fairly straightforward profile of a tragic event in which Parvez is said to have been murdered by her father and brother for, among other things, going against traditional ways and refusing to wear a hijab.

“However the article does trespass against a standard journalistic rule: don’t raise questions you don’t answer. And it is easy to see how this particular paragraph, early in the story, provoked the reaction that it did:

“Canada prides itself on its multiculturalism and, to varying degrees of success, condemns institutionalized patriarchy. But there is growing concern that recent waves of Muslim immigrants aren’t integrating or embracing our liberal values. Aqsa’s death — coming in the wake of debates about the acceptability of sharia law, disputes over young girls wearing hijabs at soccer games, and the arrest of the Toronto 18 — stoked fears about religious zealotry in our midst. Is it possible that Toronto has become too tolerant of cultural differences?

“Nowhere is this question even addressed, let alone explored; the rest of the article is a workmanlike job of reporting, reiterating much of what has been published elsewhere at the time of the her death by strangulation last December, augmented by interviews with Aqsa’s two, closest friends who don’t shine any particular light on the events as far as I can see.”