The shocking murder of Mississauga (Canada) teen Aqsa Parvez took another disturbing twist last thursday when Peel Regional Police arrested her older brother and charged him with first-degree murder.
Waqas Parvez, 26, now joins his father Muhammad Parvez, 57, before the courts on pre-meditated murder charges in the Dec. 10, 2007 strangling death of the 16-year-old high school student who friends say did not want to wear the traditional Muslim Hijab head scarf and was rebellious against the strict Muslim rules laid down inside her family home.
At odds with her situation at home, she had been living at a friend's house in the days preceding her slaying.
The Crown will now attempt to prove to a jury that it was that resistance to old-world-thinking, and her embracing a Canadian lifestyle, culture and friends, that resulted in the Pakistani-born Grade 11 Applewood Heights Secondary School student being murdered in a deliberate and thought-out manner.
Arrested without incident, her brother, Waqas, previously charged with obstructing police, appeared in the Davis Courthouse in Brampton on Friday.
For Peel homicide cops, it has been a long seven months putting together a case that they will now take to a jury. They allege this was more than a heated domestic situation, falling under the category of an honour murder.
Although they were not discussing details about yesterday's arrest, reached late last night, Peel Homicide Insp. Norm English told the Sun: "I am confident the two principal accused are now in custody charged with first-degree murder."
It does not mean the investigation is complete though: "There may be some others involved and/or have knowledge and may face a similar fate," he said. "However they may be a victim of the circumstances they are in."
Other family members were also said to be in the home at the time of the murder.
From the beginning, English has made it clear his detectives would not rest until they could put before the court all of those who were allegedly involved in the heinous killing of this teenage girl.
Police upgraded the charge against her taxi driver father from second-degree murder to first-degree murder -- the same charge her brother now faces.
On June 18, English stated: "I said from the beginning that her brother has culpability in his sister's murder and my view on that has not changed. He's living with this and I am sure there are some other people living with this as well."
Eight days later, detectives took the brother into custody.
Meanwhile, it's difficult for Canadians to accept that such a thing could happen here, but the reality is honour killings do happen in other parts of the world on a regular basis. In fact, in Germany alone, there have been 48 such killings in recent years.
"Honour murders are a real problem and can involve both religious and cultural factors," said Frontpage Columnist Stephen Brown, who has researched and written extensively on the subject. "People need to understand this mindset before they can understand why this happens."
He adds "people from non-honour based societies think of honour as something personal and mostly concerns a matter of personal integrity. For example, to maintain one's sense of honour and reputation, one believes he or she shall not cheat, steal or lie. But if they do, it's their own honour at stake. But in a collective honour-based society, if one person loses his or her honour, then the whole family, clan or village loses its honour, too."
Now we'll wait and see with this case, but in others, the dishonoured family, says Brown, "have felt they are a laughing stock in their community and have lost its claim to respect."
In the dozens of cases he has been studying, "this has been cited again and again at trials concerning honour killings of women in Europe and, many times, it was over the belief the females had lost their chastity before marriage or were involved in adultery."
He said many have testified they felt they "had no choice but to kill their daughters in order to restore the family's position since the perceived dishonour can only be washed away with blood."
Time will tell what happened with this specific case, but Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, told the Sun last week that to protect other young girls "there needs to be honest debate."
There is no debate about just how great a young lady Aqsa was. She was a bright 16-year-old girl who was robbed of her equally bright future. We have links on torontosun.com that will take you to a Facebook site set up in her honour, as well as a touching YouTube tribute.
Unlike most victims, there was no home front to go to for anecdotes and stories of her. Her home is where she was taken and people in that home are now charged.
It's already a horrible tragedy, but it is compounded by this fact.
So, if you are a friend or a family member who wants to tell people about her, feel free to e-mail me your thoughts and pictures and I will make sure they are properly posted.
Aqsa is gone and there is nothing anybody can do to change that. Whether or not honour had anything to do with it is for a future jury to decide but she can still be honoured by those who knew her.
And justice can still be done in her honour, too.
Joe Warmington is a columnist for the Toronto Sun. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
For an account of Aqsa Parvez's murder, read Frontpage columnist Steve Brown's article here.