This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Refugee Baggage

"That's the main thing that we gained. Nobody who is a refugee wants to be convicted of any indictable offence, because it's going to bring them under the purview of deportation."
"[This case represents a] very critical clash of cultures [bringing a clear message to the Syrian community in Canada]."
"Their words were taken literally instead of figuratively. In my interaction with the entire family, I came to the conclusion that this is a manner of speech that they never really intended to carry any of this out, but they do it so to say, 'You should mind me, because this is what I think'."
"Throughout the time from which her [complainant] parents were arrested and detained [Bayan] was recanting and saying 'All this is my fault'. But of course, just like in domestic assaults, the police -- and rightly so -- don't take the recanting seriously."
David Lutz, lawyer for Ahmad Ayoub, Syrian refugee in Canada
Bayan Ayoub, left, her mother Faten, top right, and father Ahmad outside the courthouse in Burton, New Brunswick, on May 15, 2018.    Don MacPherson and Caitlin Dutt/The Daily Gleaner

Having spent 72 days imprisoned for issuing death threats against their daughter, 52-year-old Ahmad Ayoub and his wife Faten, aged 48, are now free. They pleaded guilty to uttering threats in an obvious agreement to treat the matter as a summary conviction offence. Their sentence amounted to the time they served in prison. The more serious indictable offence of uttering threats was dismissed; were it not they would be facing a summer trial and the sentence for a conviction in that instance would have been six months to a year, to a maximum of two years.

Threats uttered by traditional Muslim immigrants are no trifling matter when family 'honour' is involved. Muslim and traditionally orthodox Indian families whose children refuse to honour the traditions of their culture and religion have shocked the West in honour-based killings to prevent a family member from disobeying the patriarch's orders, and to restore honour to the family when it has been too late to stop the revolting family member from deviating from custom.

The notorious Shafia family from Montreal where father, mother and son conspired to murder the family's three teen-age girls for disobeying orders not to mingle with Canadian boys and not to discard traditional Muslim head coverings enraged the parents by the girls' immodest behaviour. They blamed the father's first wife who had acted as a more genuine mother to the girls than their own did, and murdered her along with the girls. All three are now serving sentences for first-degree murder.

Honour killings are not entirely rare across the Muslim world, where girls and women are seen as akin to property, where females are subject to male direction in all matters and not viewed as autonomous individuals. Free will, individual choices and human rights are concepts that bear no weight in societies whose traditions and religious instructions are geared toward ensuring women are compliant and subservient to the menfolk in their lives.

Despite this Canadian lawyer's assurances that the threats were mere admonitions not to be taken seriously as threats, but to be viewed as concerned parents wishing the best for their rebellious daughter refusing to heed their command to stop seeing a Canadian man in an intimate social relationship, the daughter, Bayan Ayoub, knowing her culture and her parents, took the threats seriously enough to contact police.

Had the parents who arrived in New Brunswick as refugees in 2016, under sponsorship by the federal government been found guilty of the more serious charge, their refugee status giving them landed immigrant status in Canada could have been revoked. This is as good an example as any of the unwillingness or inability of some refugees and immigrants who arrive in Canada to integrate into the prevailing culture, accepting Canadian values and leaving their constricted social values inimical to the well-being of women back in their war-torn countries where they belong.

This family of two culturally-obtuse adults have five children in Canada, the youngest ten years of age. The parents cannot be classified as educationally ignorant since both had the advantage of post-secondary education; one in business the other in the service industry. In Canada since 2016 with their five children, neither parent has yet succeeded in finding employment. Daughter Bayan, 25 years of age, informed her Canadian boyfriend of her parents' threats against her. He encouraged her to report the threats.

She was described in court proceedings as a reluctant participant in the prosecution. Natural enough when a young women feels dismayed seeing her parents imprisoned and later in a court. She would naturally feel guilty about reporting them. Which wouldn't have made the threats against her any less worrisome. When  her mother became aware she had gone to police, another threat was forthcoming, that this would result in her being killed; stated via a telephone call which the daughter recorded. If she was disinclined to take the threats seriously she would hardly have reported, much less recorded them.

The Ahmads were enraged their daughter won an iPad in a contest; the first threat consisted of a promise to poison her food. She was warned that contact with local men would be prohibited for her. When Bayan's parents discovered her to be in communication with a Canadian man through social media, her father informed her that "for his own dignity, it would be better to slaughter her". However, since Mr. Lutz, the father's lawyer, assured the court that the words used were hyperbolic, exaggerated and non-literal, all is well.

"[The Ayoubs' threats were] careless, bordering on reckless, and they have learned from this experience that this kind of language may be acceptable in Syria and Afghanistan, but now they know, better than most, that it's not acceptable in Canada". Which means what, exactly, that they will take care in future lest they be caught while in the passionate throes of committing a commonplace cultural-religious strategy to control their children to protect family honour using a time-honoured stratagem familiar and valued?

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