Canadians were horrified last week to learn that a promising 16-year-old student, Aqsa Parvez, was murdered in Toronto by her Muslim father. At this early stage it is not entirely clear to what extent the daughter clashed with her father over his rigid religious beliefs.
What is clear is that this dreadful murder has ignited a debate about the place of extreme religious belief in a a liberal society.
What is really at issue here is the question of how to deal with those in our midst who believe the laws of God should the trump the laws of men. In other words, should renunciation of religious authority be a prerequisite for membership in a free society?
Voltaire posed this problem three centuries ago: “What to say to a man who tells you he prefers to obey God than to obey men, and who is consequently sure of entering the gates of heaven by slitting your throat?”
In the context of the “reasonable accomodation” debate, it is surely not right to accomodate extreme religious beliefs in a liberal, pluralistic society.
But how do we stop murders like that of the young Muslim woman in Toronto?