A Canadian Muslim activist who has written extensively about women's rights in Islam has set her sights on "Honor Diaries," a film about the horrors that women face in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North Africa.
Sheema Khan accused the film -- and its makers -- of being "Islamophobes" in an op-ed in The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper.
Because if you speak up for the women who have suffered female genital mutilation, forced marriages or "honor killings," you hate Islam, or something.
Khan mentions nothing from the actual film, instead opting to quote from the film's website, which states that the film's purpose is to "inspire viewers to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies, and to act for change."
Wow, so harsh. So racist. The actual film, if Khan actually watched it, goes to great lengths to make clear that the issue of honor killings is not born out of religion but from a culture that sees women as property.
Khan would take issue with that, however, as she quotes one journalist who advised against denigrating faith or culture.
Khan wrote that "religion is an ally against ‘honour’ killings. Islamic scholars (both Sunni and Shia) have condemned this practice.”
She's right, and if she had bothered to speak to any of the women featured in "Honor Diaries," she would know that they all feel the same way. Nearly all of the women associated with "Honor Diaries" spoke to the Washington Examiner and said that the abuse that women suffer in the Middle East doesn’t come from religion, but from those in power.
Khan suggested a better way to ending honor-based violence is "through in-depth research about the issue."
Wait, isn’t that the stated goal of "Honor Diaries"? It is.
Next, Khan said, people should consult with "those who have first-hand expertise in the field and credibility with affected communities."
That describes the women featured in "Honor Diaries" perfectly. Zainab Khan was a therapist to domestic violence survivors, Manda Zand Ervin is an Iranian refugee, Raheel Raza is a documentary filmmaker focused on human rights – and the list goes on.
And "Honor Diaries" has already had an impact. Jaha Dukureh, who has suffered from female genital mutilation, has found support through the community created by the film to speak out against what happened to her.
Isn’t that exactly what Khan is advocating?
It appears Khan wants the issue of honor-based violence to be addressed, but only by people she agrees with and apparently not on as large a scale as "Honor Diaries" can create.