MEDIA COVERAGE: SHAFIA TRIAL (2012)

The fate of Tooba Yahya, 42, her husband Mohammad Shafia, 58, and their eldest son, Hamed, 21, is now in the hands of a jury in Kingston, Ont. The three are accused of killing their family over honour. Tooba Yahya, 42, and her husband Mohammad Shafia, 58, are charged alongside their eldest son, Hamed, 21, and have each pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. Tooba Mohammad Yahya and husband Mohammad Shafia and their son Hamed Mohammed Shafia are escorted by police officers into the Frontenac County Court courthouse on the first day of trial in Kingston, Ontario on Thursday, October 20, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick(Published in Guelph Mercury in 2012)

Thank God the ‘Shafia murder trial’ is over.

With that culminates into its logical end the path to justice with the declaration of guilt for Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya and their son Hamed Shafia for killing their four family members , Shafia’s three teenage daughters and his first wife in the name of protecting his concocted sense of family honour.

The crime was unacceptable in any society anywhere in the world and justice has been delivered.

Much has been written in print media about the case and neither do I have the desire to add to the coverage of the case, nor do I feel the need to do it.

But I still would like to thank God that this trial is over.

Since now the media hype or rather the media circus created with the trial and the ‘sensational’ coverage and ‘comments’ made on this senseless crime by one Toronto Star columnist is also over.

Before you start crucifying me too as an entire community and region was crucified by the journalist  as if humans and human society laws do not exist there, let  two things be clear- I fully agree with the justice delivered and also that I do not belong to the community or the religion of Shafia. In fact I have long back denounced all religious boundaries as they seem to bring only hate in this world and make people forget the true religion of humanity.

However I have serious objections to the way the Canadian media covered the entire story with the Toronto Star columnist providing a ring side view of the drama while commenting generously on how the Afghan society and the people in the region treat their womenfolk and how Canada is superior to them. In one of the articles, she even added the entire South Asian community as guilty of treating their girls and womenfolk wrongly.

True there are inequalities and problems which exist in societies world over  and Afghanistan or South Asia have are no exceptions to the same.  But to generalise that ALL womenfolk are treated badly is an extreme and false view.

Just because one Shafia or maybe a few other Shafias out there get mixed up with their own perception of honour or religion, does that mean that the entire Afghan community or South Asian community feels the same way.  Or needs to be generalised  upon.

Just because one Canadian born Colonel Russel William or some other Western born sexual predators carry out heinous acts in the West and even in distant places like Thailand, India where they visit, should all the Westerns be classified as same.

No, generalisations are the best recipe for hatred and mistrust to build in communities.

Shaifa’s  was an isolated case, a personal Shakespearian tragedy and should have been treated as one rather than trying to prove the superiority of one country or one community over another.

There was no need to get the comments of just  Muslim leaders over the story as if the Muslims need to prove to the world that they do not feel like Shaifa.

The Toronto Star editorial was right in defining the crime as a tragedy and accepting that violence against women is not restricted to a religious or social community and is spread all over including in Canada.

If at all we need to use this case to ponder inside on whether we are allowing any Shaifa’s to breed inside us who are intolerant to the way the others think or act. And if we find his traces inside, are we not guilty who are not punished since we are not caught as yet.

It was also sad to read the elation shown by the Toronto columnist in the final judgement by using the same words which the murderer had used to condemn his daughters.  While there were many,  I would just quote one example.

“And may the Devil s—t on their graves.” It was as if by repeating the same words to condemn the three killers, justice was being delivered in her own way by the journalist sitting in the judge’ chair. And I would not use the word media as I do not wish to generalise like her.

The religion of humanity that I understand states that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind and it hurts when civilised people stoop down to the same levels of people like Shafia over whom they wish to proclaim their superiority of thought and action.

Canada I accept and respect your justice and the system that brings it.

The Toronto Star columnist and journalists like her who would like the beast inside to roar and celebrate than accepting the sadness and pathos human follies bring, it’s time you understand the meaning of Canadian values rather than proclaiming them. 

 Appeared in Guelph Mercury Feburary 4th 2012

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