April 5, 2014
Honor Diaries is an important film that explores the brutality and systematic inequality faced by women in Muslim-majority societies. It features both believing Muslim women, like Dr. Qanta Ahmed (whose compelling essay about the film was published here at National Review Online yesterday), and former Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the renowned author and human-rights activist.
The purpose of Honor Diaries is to empower women by shining a light on the hardships they endure — including “honor” killings (i.e., murders over the perception of having brought shame to the family by violating Islamic norms), beatings, genital mutilation, forced marriage — particularly of young girls – and restrictions on movement, education, and economic opportunity. The film highlights authentic Muslim moderates struggling against the dead-end of Islamic supremacism.
So naturally, the Council on American–Islam Relations (CAIR) does not want you to see it.
At Fox News, Megyn Kelly has been covering the film anyway, despite CAIR’s howling. The segments that aired on Monday and Tuesday are available on Megyn’s website, here and here.
CAIR is a Muslim Brotherhood creation, conceived as the primo American public-relations firm for Islamic supremacists, particularly Hamas — a task CAIR pulls off by masquerading as a “civil rights” organization.
Hamas, as I recounted in The Grand Jihad, is a formally designated terrorist organization under federal law. It is also the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. In the early Nineties, the Brotherhood established a “Palestine Committee” to promote Hamas in the United States, an agenda topped by fundraising and efforts to derail the 1993 Oslo accords — the futile, Clinton administration-brokered attempt to forge an Israeli–Palestinian peace settlement. CAIR’s founders, Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmed, attended a three-day summit in support of Hamas in Philadelphia in 1993, much of which was wiretapped by the FBI. CAIR was established shortly afterwards. By summer 1994, the Palestine Committee was listing CAIR in internal memoranda as one of its “working organizations.”
We’ve discussed CAIR here many times, including in my 2009 column about the FBI’s long-overdue severing of “outreach” ties with the organization. It is infuriating that the Feebs and the wider government thought it was worth canoodling with CAIR in the first place, but the Bureau officially ended the affair after the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial, in which several Hamas operatives were convicted. CAIR, though unindicted, was shown by the Justice Department to be a co-conspirator. In sum, prosecutors established that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was the primary Hamas fundraising arm in the United States. Like CAIR, HLF was identified by the Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee as one of its “working organizations.” As terrorism researcher Steve Emerson has shown, CAIR got $5,000 in seed money at its inception from HLF, and thereafter helped raise money for HLF. The federal government shut HLF down in 2001 because of its promotion of terrorism.
Although Honor Diaries has been widely acclaimed and screened internationally, CAIR has been agitating against it. As reliably happens when CAIR plays its tired “Islamophobia” card, universities across the nation cower — especially universities with active Muslim Students Association chapters. (As we’ve observed before, the MSA is the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infrastructure in the United States.) Starting with the University of Michigan at Dearborn, several schools have now decided not to screen the film after all.
Why it is “Islamophobic” to condemn violence and abuse against Muslim women is not entirely clear to me. It is, however, clear to Linda Sarsour, a “community organizer” and “immigrants’ rights activist” who is celebrated on President Obama’s website, WhiteHouse.gov, as a “Champion of Change.” As reported on The Kelly File, this particular “champion” reacted to Honor Diaries by tweeting:
How many times do we have to tell White women that we do not need to be saved by them? Is there code language I need to use to get thru?
Thoughts like Ms. Sarsour’s make for depressing reading, but clearly she is referring to some of the filmmakers, who happen to be white women (the others include white men and a black woman, Ms. Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born executive producer who was raised as a Muslim). The film has also been promoted by yet another highly accomplished woman, Brooke Goldstein, the human-rights attorney and filmmaker who directs The Lawfare Project; and by the Clarion Project, a New York–based organization that promotes moderate Islam and publicly challenges “extremist” Islam.
The community organizers at CAIR have obviously read a bit farther along in Rules for Radicals than Ms. Sarsour. Rather than racist tweets, they couch their character assassination of the film’s backers in the poll-tested sensitivities of everyday Americans, pretending to endorse the film’s message while telling you not to watch it. They issued a statement on Monday that Megyn Kelly aired:
American Muslims join people of conscience of all faiths in condemning female genital mutilation, forced marriages, ‘honor killings,’ and any other form of domestic violence or gender inequality as violations of Islamic beliefs. If anyone mistreats women, they should not seek refuge in Islam. The real concern in this case is that the producers of the film, who have a track record of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry, are hijacking a legitimate issue to push their hate-filled agenda.
Right. Women are being brutalized but our “real concern” should be the “track record” of some film producers. Beyond CAIR’s say-so that it is “hate-filled,” this purportedly dark track record is not described. But, after all, who would know more about what counts as “hate-filled” than a PR flack for a terrorist organization whose charter vows to annihilate Israel by violent jihad?
On Tuesday night, CAIR’s Chicago branch dispatched Agnieszka Karoluk, one of its “senior communications coordinators,” to Fox in order to regurgitate CAIR’s statement. Questioned by Megyn Kelly, Ms. Karoluk gave a dizzying explanation: CAIR, we’re told, agrees that Honor Diaries raises vital issues, opposes the abuse of women just like the film does, and is not really happy that colleges are canceling screenings (even though CAIR put out a smiley-face tweet when the first cancellation was announced). But CAIR is “disgusted” by the Clarion Project because it is — all together now — “Islamophobic.” Ms. Karoluk declined to say what makes it so (of course, to get into that would bring attention to episodes of Islamic extremism Clarion has exposed). So because Clarion likes the film, you shouldn’t watch it even though its content is accurate and significant — got it? Confronted by Brooke Goldstein about CAIR’s own record, Ms. Karoluk predictably replied, “I’m not here to talk about CAIR, I’m here to talk about the film” . . . and then continued to avoid talking about the film.
It is no doubt true, as CAIR’s statement asserts, that American Muslims substantially join the rest of us in condemning the abuse of women. CAIR, however, is in no position to speak for American Muslims — and in fact speaks for very few of them. Even if one were inclined to accept CAIR’s statements at face value, Honor Diaries is about the abuse of Muslim women; it is not about the filmmakers. If CAIR truly condemned these misogynistic practices it would be encouragingpeople to see the film. Instead, as Dr. Ahmed told Megyn, “They claim to be defending the vulnerable whereas they’re actually silencing exposure about the vulnerable.”
But there is no reason to take CAIR’s statements at face value. Under the old adage that actions speak louder than words, the inescapable fact is that CAIR does not condemn the horrific abuse of women in Muslim-majority countries. It is feigning condemnation in hopes of rendering people more receptive to CAIR’s actual message, which is: Avoid Honor Diaries because anyone who exposes atrocities committed by Muslims is unworthy of consideration, no matter how valid the exposition.
And I can prove it.
CAIR has a very close relationship with another Muslim Brotherhood creation, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) — an Islamic-supremacist think-tank we’ve also discussed in these pages (see, e.g., here). As Steve Emerson points out, disclosure forms IIIT filed with the IRS show thousands of dollars in contributions to CAIR. IIIT was also a major financial backer of Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami al-Arian, whom CAIR continued to champion even after his guilty plea to a terrorism charge.
As I’ve previously recounted, IIIT is one of the influential Islamic academic outfits that have endorsed Reliance of the Traveller, the English translation of the classic sharia manual, `Umdat al-Salik. Indeed, the endorsement, written by IIIT’s then-president, Taha Jabir al-`Alwani, is included in the introduction section of the published manual. Dr. Alwani, a revered figure in Muslim Brotherhood circles, highly recommended Reliance as both a “textbook for teaching Islamic jurisprudence to English-speakers” and a legal reference for sharia scholars.
Here are just some of the things Reliance teaches about the treatment of women under Islamic law (with supporting citations to sections of the manual):
While retaliation is generally obligatory for the killing of a Muslim, there is to be no retaliation against “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (Reliance o1.1 & o1.2.) This provision, among others, provides sharia justification for honor killing.
Female “circumcision” is obligatory (although only recommended or considered “a mere courtesy to the husband” in some Islamic legal schools); it consists of “removing the prepuce of the clitoris.” (Reliance e4.3.)
“It is recommended for a guardian to offer his marriageable female charges in marriage to righteous men.” For purposes of marriage, a woman must have a male guardian. A father or grandfather may compel his virgin daughter or granddaughter to marry a suitable match without her consent. A man may offer his prepubescent daughter in marriage provided that the marriage payment is sufficient. (Reliance m2.1, m3.4, 3.7, 3.13, m8.2.)
“It is obligatory for a woman to let her husband have sex with her immediately when (a) he asks her (b) at home (c) and she can physically endure it.” (Reliance m5.1.)
A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man; a Muslim man may marry up to four women, who may be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish (but no apostates from Islam). (Reliance m6.0 & ff. — Marriage.)
A woman is required to be obedient to her husband and is prohibited from leaving the marital home without permission; if permitted to go out, she must conceal her figure or alter it “to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them.” (Reliance p42.0 & ff.)
If a wife is disobedient or “rebellious,” her husband may hit her (though not “in a way that injures her”) as long as he has first tried to “correct matters” by “admonition and advice” and by refusing to sleep with her. (Reliance m10.12.)
A non-Muslim may not be awarded custody of a Muslim child. (Reliance m13.2-3.)
A woman has no right of custody of her child from a previous marriage when she remarries “because married life will occupy her with fulfilling the rights of her husband and prevent her from tending to the child.” (Reliance m13.4.)
It is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled. (Reliance m2.3.)
It is unlawful for a woman to show any part of her body to an adolescent boy or a non-Muslim woman. (Reliance m2.7.)
The testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man. (Reliance o24.7.)
A woman’s inheritance rights are worth half that of a man. (Reliance L6.3 & L6.4.)
If a case involves an allegation of fornication (including rape), “then it requires four male witnesses.” (Reliance o24.9.)
The penalty for fornication outside marriage (for a woman or a man) is to be stoned to death, unless one is without the “capacity to remain chaste,” in which case the penalty is “being scourged one hundred stripes and banished to a distance of at least 81 km./50mi. for one year.” (Reliance o12.0 & ff.) Note that because the witness requirement for rape can rarely be met, and because a woman who cannot prove she has been raped (if the rapist is not her husband) will be found to have fornicated outside marriage and thus subject to fornication penalties, rape often goes unreported in sharia societies.
If a Muslim woman (or a man) apostatizes from Islam, the penalty is death. Apostasy includes not only renouncing Islam but, among other things, speaking words that imply disbelief, denying Islamic obligations, and being “sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law.” (Reliance o8.0& ff., o9.0 & ff.)
The penalty for homosexual activity (“sodomy and lesbianism”) is death. (Reliance p17.0 & ff.)
The establishment of a caliphate is obligatory, and the caliph must be Muslim and male. “The Prophet . . . said, ‘Men are already destroyed when they obey women.’” (Reliance o25.0 & ff; see also p28.0, on Mohammed’s condemnation of “masculine women and effeminate men.”)
So will CAIR, the vaunted “civil rights” organization, be issuing one of its scathing condemnations against its friends at IIIT for endorsing an interpretation of sharia that permits honor killing, female genital mutilation, violence against women, coerced marriages, arranged child marriages, polygamy, inequality under law, and the denial — by savage means — of liberty, privacy, and freedom of conscience?
My guess is CAIR will tell you to ignore Reliance of the Traveller. After all, it’s not important that IIIT endorsed it (as did the general director of research, writing, and translation at al-Azhar University’s Islamic Research Academy); what matters is that I told you about it, which is, you know, so . . . Islamophobic.
As Honor Diaries powerfully illustrates, women in many Muslim-majority countries face violence, abuse, and systematic inequality. We can listen to CAIR and ignore this travesty; or we can take pride in the brave people trying to put a stop to it.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.