Film Spotlighting 'Honor Abuse' Called Islamophobic

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A new film with shocking footage and photos intended to raise awareness about honor killings and abuse of Muslim and other women is drawing fire from one U.S. Muslim group that's calling the movie "Islamophobic."

"Honor Diaries" is a documentary chronicling the systematic abuse and subjugation of hundreds of millions of women in Islamic and other "honor-based" societies around the world. 

The film brings together nine women's rights activists and experts -- most of them devout Muslims -- to tell their stories and stories of the women they work with.

"The honor system that exists in many cultural societies is really the basis for a lot of the harm that is perpetuated against women," said Raheel Raza, president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow.

"Tweeting, Facebooking those things can be deemed dishonorable," said Jasvinder Sanghera, co-founder of Karma Nirvana, a support group for women impacted by forced marriages and honor-based abuse.

Also considered dishonorable is "anything from wearing short sleeves, to refusing to wear a headscarf, being seen talking to a man and in some of the most horrifying cases is having been sexually assaulted," writer and commentator Raquel Saraswati said.

Dr. Qanta Ahmed, associate professor of medicine at the State University of New York said, "There's a terrible fear of the educated, empowered woman."

The women discuss the oppression of women in so-called honor societies and many of the images are graphic.

They talk about public lashings because of immodest dress, acid attacks, mutilation, forced marriages of little girls as young as eight or even five years old, widespread female genital mutilation and murder by family members, all carried out under the guise of preserving family honor.

"Honor Diaries" is not only a movie -- documentary -- it's the initiation of a movement," Ahmed, one of the film's experts, told CBN News.

"Honor violence affects women of all backgrounds, women of all faiths in many societies. Unfortunately some of the most egregious manifestations are in the Muslim-majority world, and these are women who can't speak for themselves," Ahmed said.

It's a phenomenon that's spreading even in the United States.

But the film has faced opposition in America. Several college campuses, including the University of Michigan, have cancelled the film. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is spearheading the campaign against the movie.

"As I said we don't have a problem with the content of this film. I understand that there are women who participated in this film, who are Muslim women who work on these very serious issues," Agnieszka Karoluk, SR Communications coordinator for CAIR Chicago, told Fox News' Megyn Kelly

"What I'm personally disgusted by, as a Muslim woman, as a feminist, that someone like the Clarion Project would take this film and use it to promote their own hate-filled agenda," she added.

The Clarion Project produced the movie, but author Robert Spencer told CBN News that anyone who speaks honestly about Islam is considered an Islamophobe.

"Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide, and there is no penalty in Islamic law for a parent who kills a child," Spencer said. "And so anybody who speaks honestly about this kind of thing is targeted by Islamic supremacist groups in the U.S., demonized, vilified, marginalized, accused of hatred, bigotry, and so on."

One of the film's producers, Paula Kweskin, said people need to wake up and realize they can make a difference.

"There is this paralyzing political correctness that makes us think that we can't challenge things if we don't know enough about them," Kweskin told CBN News. "But human rights are never something to be ignored; they're never something to be excused by culture or religion."

The controversy may actually draw more people to watch "Honor Diaries" and focus attention on what many Muslim women say is an enormous human rights tragedy that needs to be addressed.

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Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

CBN News Middle East Bureau

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