IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY: HONOR KILLINGS IN NORTH AMERICA Image

Shelley Saywell’s documentary focuses on the so-called “honor killing” that often accompanies the lives of young girls whose families emigrate from Islamic nations to the U.S. and Canada. The film details the murders of the sisters Amina and Sarah Said in Lewisville, Texas, and Aqsa Parvez in Toronto by their respective fathers. (Parvez’ brother was also convicted in her death.) Another victim of this violence who escaped death, Fauzia Muhammad, is also profiled. The girls were killed for simply being typical North American teenagers – congregating with school friends of different backgrounds, asserting their independence and dressing in contemporary Western fashions.

The film also highlights several young Muslim women who became estranged from their physically and psychologically violent families and created independent lives. They tell their stories with uncommon courage and poise.

The film notes that post-9/11 suspicion of Muslim communities in North America has served to sensationalize these crimes, and an interview with the young people of a Toronto mosque drives the point that the aforementioned attacks were the result of abusive and mentally unbalanced parents and not Koranic scripture. But while problems in assimilation by immigrant communities is hardly not unusual, the level of hostility presented in this film gives the impression that too many Islamic families who come to this continent are stuck in a vicious, medieval time warp.

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