The University of Michigan-Dearborn initially agreed to screen the Clarion Project‘s new faux-feminist film, Honor Diaries. Then faculty and staff began to weigh in on the biased, shallow orientation of the documentary, and the administrators who’d scheduled the screening had second thoughts. This is what one faculty member had to say about one of the interview subjects of the film who would appear on the campus panel:
Ms. [Raquel] Saraswati is a convert to Islam who has spent the past several years speaking in…venues – always as a “representative” of the Muslim community - against the equal treatment of Muslims in US law and in support of egregious violations of the rights of Muslims as in the NYPD’s spying on Muslim communities in New York.
Saraswati, in a Twitter conversation, denied that she supports NYPD spying on Muslims. But she also has not denied that she attended the press conference Zuhdi Jasser held in New York to support the NYPD surveillance program. When I asked her how she make a distinction between these two positions, she said she didn’t support spying on innocent people (“Spying with no lead at all would be wrong”). Presumably, she believes the NYPD only spies on guilty people. She also calls claims that saying she’s against equal treatment of Muslims in U.S. law is ‘defamatory.’ But if you approve of violating Muslims’ constitutional rights through spying then in effect you’re supporting the abridgment of civil liberties.
I discovered this website which posted an unauthorized biography of Saraswati in 2008. Let’s just say she’s had a rich and varied past!
Further, Saraswati appears to be a protege of Zuhdi Jasser (multiple websites acknowledge their close working relationship), one of the strongest opponents of the Muslim-American national leadership of groups like CAIR and the ADC. She and Jasser signed this letter to Hillary Clinton asking her not to allow Pakistan opposition leader Imran Khan to enter the U.S. because he allegedly supports the Taliban and sharia law (none of which is true).
Jasser has appeared in at least two previous Clarion films and he clearly played a formative role behind the scenes in shaping Honor Diaries. His protege has clearly allied herself with a partisan political movement, rather than the purely feminist values she claims to espouse in the film.
Another interview subject, Manda Zand Ervin, is a board member of Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Ervin, who makes the most overtly Islamophobic statement in the entire film (“Muslim women are deprived of their humanity”), is also affiliated with the necon Hudson Institute and the National Review.
In my earlier post on the film, I highlighted Ayan Hirsi Ali’s prominent role as executive producer and “expert.” This blog post profiling the personnel behind the film, brought to my attention this interview with Ayan Hirsi Ali in the liberatarian Reason Magazine:
Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times?…Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?
Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.
Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?
Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period…
Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?
Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that…You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.
Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.
I can’t think of anything more definitively Islamophobic than that. Here Hirsi Ali is calling for holy war against Islam. A literal war to the death. Those who support this film must address the rotten beliefs held by those who play key roles in it.
The film’s campus host invited representatives from CAIR and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to participate in a panel discussion. These groups refused, saying the film was so hopelessly anti-Muslim that they couldn’t dignify it with their presence. Then the University postponed the screening, finally understanding that they’d been fooled by the producers into buying a pig in a poke. The Women’s Resource Center at the University of Illinois also cancelled a screening of the film when students and faculty notified them of the misleading marketing of this project.
Now, it appears that FoxNews is trying to gin up controversy by claiming that the cancellation was the result of censorship or political correctness in the Muslim-American community. Megyn Kelly, the FoxNews anchor who told America that “Santa Claus was white,” asked (through her producer, Robin Carson) CAIR if they’d participate in an interview segment this coming Tuesday about the film. The group politely declined for the same reasons they declined to participate in the Michigan panel. Fox also asked Arab-American leader Linda Sarsour to participate. She refused as well.
FoxNews often features interviews with Ayan Hirsi Ali, whom I mentioned above. This shows the network’s predisposition to shill on the film’s behalf.
This is a warning to the Muslim community that FoxNews and Clarion’s Islamophobic producers plan a piece of ambush journalism that will boost the visibility of this execrable film. Don’t play ball. Honor Diaries is a piece of propaganda masquerading as a feminist, humanist film. No one should be fooled.
There is a new Twitter hashtag about the film, #DisHonorDiaries, and a powerful theme being tweeted tonight (which I amplified slightly): misogyny has no religion or ethnicity.