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FoxNews Gins Up ‘Honor Diaries’ Controversy

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:

raquel saraswati

Raquel Saraswati waves the blue and white!

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!

jasser saraswati

Raquel Saraswait and Zuhdi Jasser

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.

Saraswati was also profiled by Clarion Project’s terrorism analyst, Ryan Mauro, here and portrayed as a model Muslim (at least as far as Clarion is concerned).

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.

Reason: Militarily?

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.

megyn kelly

Megyn Kelley plans ambush interview on Clarion’s “Honor Diaries.”

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.

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Deïr Yassin March 31, 2014, 5:26 PM

    “Muslims are the biggest fraudsters and liars in the world, all encouraged in the Qur’an.”
    Yep, and this Muslim says to you كول خرا [kool kharaa] ‘Eat shit !’ …. it’s not encouraged by the Qur’an though…..

    • Richard Silverstein March 31, 2014, 5:58 PM

      Stupid of me not to read the other comment more carefully before approving it. I’m going to delete it now. I apologize.

      • Abdul Ameer March 31, 2014, 6:43 PM

        Has telling someone to “eat shit” become an acceptable comment???

        • Deïr Yassin March 31, 2014, 11:41 PM

          Richard has deleted the comment by the person to whom I responded. Did you read that ? Or only my answer ‘hurts’ your feelings ?
          Concerning your selected extracts from the Qur’an on ‘gender apartheid’ and oppression, you can find suwar saying the contrary too. Your reading really fits the expression “as the Devil reads the Bible”, and it’s not that the Old and the New Testament contain equally gender biased passages, is it ?
          And “Abdul Ameer”, you’re a FRAUD ! An Islamophobic guy who takes a Muslim/Arabic pen name is a well-known strategy ….
          PS. Of course Richard is free to delete my comment :-)

        • Richard Silverstein April 1, 2014, 12:26 AM

          @ Abdul Ameer: It is completely acceptable in light of the horrific insults the deleted comments contained against Islam. Nor did I ask you to police my comment threads.

  • Abdul Ameer March 31, 2014, 6:33 PM

    Actually, there is a great deal of gender apartheid and oppression of women in the Muslim world which is a result not only of custom but also of sacred religious doctrine. The suffering that so many Muslim women experience will not go away by pretending it does not exist. To start the ball rolling, here is the doctrinal basis for discrimination against women in Islam:
    Qur’an 4:34 says: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other… Good women are obedient. And for those from you fear disobedience, admonish them, then forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. ” Remember, that is Allah speaking.
    Allah further says in 2:223: “Women are your fields: go, then, unto your fields when and how you please. ” Here, Allah sanctifies the man’s sexual rights of the wife
    In hadiths recognized as authentic, Muhammad said:
    — Mohammed said: “Because Allah afflicted Eve, all of the women of this world menstruate and are stupid.”
    — The Prophet said: “A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.”
    — Mohammed said: “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)…I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you…Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?…This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?…This is the deficiency in her religion.”
    — Muhammad said: “Women are the majority dwellers in Allah’s Hell and are lacking in intelligence and religion”.

    Obviously, there are many enlightened Muslims who do not follow these doctrines, but the doctrines do not change merely because some Muslims don’t follow them. The fact is that many Muslims do follow these doctrines because they believe their god and their prophet require it.

    Honor killings are a result of these and other doctrines concerning women and men’s authority over them. The United Nations reported that there are about 5000 reported honor killings per year and that about 90% of them are Muslims.

    • Richard Silverstein April 1, 2014, 12:22 AM

      The United Nations reported that there are about 5000 reported honor killings per year and that about 90% of them are Muslims.

      I believe you’re lying. I want to see the source and I want to see it now. If you don’t provide a credible source that confirms your claim I may suspend your comment privileges. Read the comment rules about supporting opinions & claims with credible evidence. And do NOT expect us to accept your claims without them.

      This comment is completely off topic. This blog is not a venue for Muslim-bashing. The next comment you publish that strays into that area may result in your privileges being suspended or revoked. Again, read the comment rules.

      BTW, for every quotation you can muster from the Quran I can muster 10 from the Bible or New Testament that affirm religious bias against women. It doesn’t prove ANYTHING. Misogyny has NO religion.

      BTW, our purported Muslim friend who hates Islam has an IP address in Glendale, AZ a suburb of Phoenix. The latter is where Dr. Zuhdi Jasser has his medical practice. They’re probably good friends!

      • MLSmith April 1, 2014, 1:27 AM

        You asked for a source for the honor killing numbers and statistics. Here are just a few –
        http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp/story.asp?NewsID=33971&Cr=violence+against+women&Cr1=#.Uzp228eT73E
        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/honor-killing-under-growing-scrutiny-in-the-us/
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_killing

        You are not helping Muslims by sweeping this issue under the carpet. Women and girls are having their basic human rights violated and it is our responsibility to help them, and not ignore them. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem.

        • Richard Silverstein April 1, 2014, 9:40 AM

          That’s not what I asked. I demanded a source confirming 5,000 were killed per yr & 90% were Muslim which was the claim made. Where is the support for this specific claim?

        • Richard Silverstein April 1, 2014, 9:48 PM

          @MLSmith: I don’t recall any Muslim women asking an Jewish woman named Miriam Zeff to help them. Why don’t you focus your energies instead on the thousands of Jewish women & girls who are sexually abused (especially in Israel) every year?? I know Muslim women who are addressing the issue in their community & who have told Clarion to butt out. You might do the same. Unless you feel it’s appropriate for Muslims to expound upon the alleged ‘barbarities’ of the Jewish religion.

      • Deïr Yassin April 1, 2014, 11:46 AM

        “BTW, our purported Muslim friend who hates Islam has an IP address in Glendale, AZ a suburb of Phoenix. The latter is where Dr. Zuhdi Jasser has his medical practice. They’re probably good friends!”
        Haha, how come I’ve got the feeling we’re not going to hear more from this guy. Isn’t this the guy who tours the States with Stand With Us.?
        NB. just read his wiki-page: Richard’s opinion on Jasser is mentioned, so is Daniel Pipes’. They’re opposite, of course. Being endorsed by Pipes is about all one needs to know :-)

  • Roqayah March 31, 2014, 10:02 PM

    Thank you for reading my piece Richard, cheers

  • Abdul Ameer April 1, 2014, 12:12 PM

    [no further comments will be approved for this commenter till he proves his claim that 90% of honor killings are Muslim; or he retracts the claim.]

    • Richard Silverstein April 1, 2014, 2:51 PM

      @Abdul Ameer: You are a fraud. Your nickname seeks to imply you are Muslim when you are not. Further you claimed 90% of honor killings were Muslim & when challenged offered no proof. You also continue to meander through anti-Muslim wasteland in these comments even after being warned to stay on topic.

      As a result you will be moderated till you show you can respect the rules everyone else follows.

  • Abdul Ameer April 1, 2014, 11:46 PM

    [comment edited because I warned commenter no further ones would be published unless he proved his claim 90% of honor killings were Muslim. THIS is his proof!]

    …Then there is this article by Phyllis Chesler: “Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings” http://www.meforum.org/2646/worldwide-trends-in-honor-killings. She has loads of footnotes to support her analysis. She gives the 91% figure as the percentage of honor-killings committed by Muslims on the basis of analyzing the UN statistics.

    • Richard Silverstein April 2, 2014, 12:32 AM

      @Abdul Ameer: You originally claimed a UN report said 90% of honor killings were by Muslims. Now you reveal the truth, which is that a noted Islamophobe and right wing pro-Israel extremist, Phyllis Chesler, is the one making this spurious claim & doing it in no less august a venue than Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. If you think I’m going to accept your claim or Chesler’s that she derived the 90% figure from UN reports and that her analysis is credible, you’re daft.

      We see you now for what you are: a fraud. Your Arabic name means “servant of the emir.” Your ‘emir’ is Islamophobia. My bet is you’re Zuhdi Jasser or one of his pals.

  • Piers Shaw April 9, 2014, 12:04 AM

    Richard, I do not understand the point of your article. Are you claiming that the documentary is presenting false information about honor violence in the Islamic world?
    If the documentary is making false claims can you please spell them out as it seems as though you want it suppressed purely because you do not like some of the peope interviewed in it.

    • Richard Silverstein April 9, 2014, 3:09 AM

      @ Piers Shaw: I’ve written 3 posts about the film. Read them all before asking any questions. The film is a tissue of lies, deceit & distortion about Islam and everything else it touches.

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