CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) is at it again. This time they have succeeded in shutting down a screening of the film, "Honor Diaries," at the University of Michigan, Dearborn last Thursday night, claiming that the film is ‘Islamophobic.’
"Honor Diaries" is a recently-released documentary profiling nine Muslim women and their horrific experiences in Islamic societies living with practices such as female genital mutilation, honor violence, honor killings and forced marriage at young ages.
CAIR started a Twitter campaign a few days ago against the film, calling it ‘Islamophobic,’ the term groups such as CAIR use not to mean prejudice or fear against the religion, but a fabricated term used to denote anything unflattering to Islam.
It’s a tactic used by CAIR and others to successfully and often indefinitely quiet any criticism of Islam, even when it’s shining light upon the practice of honor violence and depriving young women of education, two central themes in the film.
And most of the time it works. We see it in cases such as this one, where individuals like those organizing this film screening become fearful at the thought of offending a minority group. Because offending others is very anti-American; but then again, isn’t stifling free speech?
Who is being offended when we are talking about mutilation and women setting themselves on fire to escape marriage before puberty?
How can any interest group protest the profiling of violent and grotesque practices against women?
Well, CAIR has been careful to say that while these subjects do need to be addressed, they shouldn’t be profiled by “Islamophobes” or by the Clarion Project, the group funding the film.
Clarion’s previous film projects include "Iranium," the "Third Jihad" and "Obsession." More importantly, as far as CAIR is concerned and in further delegitimizing Clarion’s work, it’s headed by Raphael Shore, a Canadian-Israeli rabbi.
But CAIR isn’t doing the dirty work here or even its own research. The group is relying on the facts and arguments presented by Richard Silverstein, a progressive blogger who discredits the film on his blog: “One has to ask why a film about the purported abuse of Muslim women was produced by Jews, and ones with a distinct ideological agenda at that.”
CAIR links to his blog on Twitter to make the case: A Jew can’t be profiling human rights abuses against Muslim women.
But how much longer can we as a society allow a group, that is meant to constructively guide and promote the integration of a religious group, instead bully those who are only trying to expose its dangerous and extremist practices? When they attempt to cover up these crimes, are they not as guilty as the perpetrators?
As a council, CAIR is meant to be a bridge facilitating relations between the American and Islamic communities. Instead, they are creating the rifts and enlarging the gaps.
Shouldn’t CAIR be first in calling out these inhumane practices if they are looking to protect the name of Islam and its people?
The Huffington Post did both an article and video segment on "Honor Diaries," just after the film’s debut on March 8 in honor of International Women’s Day.
The Huff Post championed its cause and echoed its important message, as a film raising awareness about human rights and misogyny, not one defiling Islam.
“CAIR has done what they do best: deflect the issue. Since they don’t address the issue of violence head on, why let anyone else bring it up?” Raheel Raza, one of the activists featured in the film, told me.
Raza, originally from Pakistan, now lives in Canada and is an author, speaker, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow and founder of Forum 4 Learning, a group promoting religious diversity and interfaith harmony.
“If they lobby to have the event cancelled, then they have effectively swept it under the carpet and for them it doesn't exist. This is why it’s so important to see 'Honor Diaries' and break the barriers of silence and constipated political correctness,” Raza said.
The danger in allowing a group like CAIR to strong-arm a university into canceling an important screening is two fold.
First, it becomes our duty as a society to never allow the ideology of one group to overpower the rights of another just by throwing around an overused, loaded word: ‘Islamophobic.’
Americans have become extremely tolerant of varying opinions, religions, philosophies, etc. We are careful not to offend and alienate. But what will political correctness cost us as a society? To what degree is political correctness no longer correct but used just as a weapon to censor and control the dialogue?
Secondly, the appalling practices such as female genital mutilation, honor violence, honor killings and forced marriage at young ages.of this film must be exposed and people must become aware of them. It is the responsibility of every free individual to know about and to actively oppose these practices in modern times.
Unfortunately, these awful acts are not just examples of Islamic violence in Middle Eastern or African countries. In fact, one of the characters of the film lives in the UK.
And to take this further, it’s already at our doorstep here in the United States.
Of course we are called ‘Islamophobic’ every time this inconvenient fact is raised, but U.S. courts have had to apply international law bans to keep Sharia Law out of the courtroom when Muslim families have wanted to apply Islamic law against their children and others.
A painful example that comes to mind is the story of Amina and Sarah Said, sisters who were born and lived in Texas, and shot and killed by their father in 2008 for having non-Muslim boyfriends.
Every time we lose a single opportunity, such as a screening of this film, to raise awareness about these barbaric practices, it’s another smug victory for the extremists, the child oppressors, and the women abusers among us.
It was CAIR that cried, ‘Islamophobia.’ And that’s what it should remain -- a false cry. And very much like the fable of the boy who cried wolf, these baseless allegations will increasingly be seen as background noise and not as a distraction from the truth or a stifling in the message of films such as "Honor Diaries," working to expose heinous human rights crimes and violence against women.
CAIR may try to intimidate those delivering the message, but fear will not indefinitely quiet the truth seekers. Reality will only become louder with time.