The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) exhibited its considerable and growing clout by forcing the cancellation of at least two showings of the film Honor Diaries, one scheduled for last week at the University of Michigan, the other at the University of Illinois.
The film, a 2013 documentary that explores violence against women in “honor-based” societies (read: Muslim countries) through the eyes of nine women with personal experience with that violence, premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival in October 2013. One month later it won the Interfaith Award for Best Documentary at the St. Louis International Film Festival. In December it was featured on DirecTV’s Something to Talk About film series on its Audience channel.
The film focuses on three major crimes of violence committed by those societies: forced marriage, honor killings, and female genital mutilation.
It received a favorable review from the Los Angeles Times:
Make no mistake. The work of the nine activists featured in [the film] is extremely important as they fight for women’s rights.
Robin Shepherd, writing at his liberal Commentator website, said:
[Honor Diaries] consists of a roundtable discussion by nine courageous and highly articulate women of different ages, all from Muslim majority countries….
They speak eloquently, with reasoned passion, about their personal experiences and of threats against them, and talk of their efforts to change the situation of women in their country of origin and in the wider world.
CAIR doesn’t see the film that way. In fact, there appears to be little evidence that anyone from CAIR even saw the movie before moving against it. Of CAIR’s success in forcing the schools to cancel previously scheduled showings of the film, one of the film’s producers, Heidi Basch-Harod, said:
I am disappointed because what I can see by the reactions is that the people who are condemning the film have not seen it.
They are self-censoring, even. They aren’t giving themselves or others the chance to engage in dialogue and meaningful conversations about issues that are important.
One of the nine interviewed at length in the film, clinical therapist Zainab Khan, complained:
They [CAIR] utilized tactics of censorship. It’s … dangerous and shows their mode of operation: bullying, scapegoating, censoring [and] avoiding [the] issues.
CAIR claimed that they didn’t cancel the showings but that the schools did after learning the truth behind the film. Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said:
The screenings were not canceled by CAIR. They were canceled by the screening sponsors after they were informed of the hate agenda and islamophobic history of the film’s producers….
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.
CAIR, founded when the film True Lies hit the screens in 1994 to protest its anti-Muslim characterizations, has a past with activities that range from innocuous to politically correct propagandizing to traitorous. It began filing pro-Muslim complaints and lawsuits in 1995, starting with “hijab discrimination” (a hijab being the headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim women), and then tried to thwart the upsurge of discrimination against Muslims following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. It held voter registration drives for Muslims in 1996, and published a response to alleged attacks on Muslims after the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800.
Many of its activities have included the disavowal of violence or a selling of the faith to the non-Islamic public.
It condemned the September 11 attacks in 2001 and organized the “Library Project” to put pro-Islam books and tapes into all 17,000 public libraries in the country. In 2004, it launched its “Not in the Name of Islam” petition in order to disassociate Islam from the violent acts of some Muslims, and promoted its faith through its “Explore the Quran” campaign, giving free copies of the Quran (also Koran) to anyone requesting it. In 2006, it started its “Explore the Life of Muhammad” to offset the negative press Islam was getting in the wake of the anti-Muhammad cartoon controversy that began in Denmark in 2006.
CAIR has been successful in convincing many people that it represents a peaceful variant of Islam, and even managed to enlist the assistance of 11-term Illinois Congressman Paul Findley to help raise some $50 million for the Explore the Life of Muhammad project.
But CAIR's peaceful public face began to wear away in December 2006 when far-left California Senator Barbara Boxer withdrew a “certificate of accomplishment” she had earlier presented to CAIR. Because CAIR was too extreme even for Boxer, she hastily put distance between herself and the group.
Then in May 2007, the U.S. government filed suit against a Muslim charity for providing funds for the terrorist group Hamas and listed among its 245 unindicted co-conspirators CAIR and its founder Omar Ahmad. During the investigation of the Muslim charity, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), FBI Special Agent Lara Burns called CAIR “a front group for Hamas.” Following that investigation, the FBI, which had been trying to maintain working relationships with Muslim groups around the country to aid in their investigations of Muslim terrorists for the prior 15 years, suddenly ended those relationships.
But CAIR still retains credibility amongst some groups — obviously including universities — though it tries to slant the public's view of Islam, whitewashing the violence that Islam begets and diverting the blame for violence done by Islam's adherents. Evidence of CAIR’s program of disinformation abounds. Hours after it was announced by President Obama that Osama bin Laden had been killed, CAIR put out this revealing statement:
We join our fellow citizens in welcoming the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of American military personnel.
As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam. In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide.
So far, so good. And if CAIR had ended its statement at this point, no one would be the wiser about the group’s true intent and purpose. Its final sentence, however, reveals, in a microcosm, its deliberate manipulation and misdirection: "We also reiterate President Obama’s clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam." (Emphasis added.)
The added phraseology intentionally obscures the simple fact that Islam is at war with the United States, but this classical misdirection exposes CAIR for what it is: a public relations front for Islamic terrorism.
It has developed the tools of disinformation and distraction to a high level, the most potent of which is the claim of “Islamophobia” against anyone exposing the truth about Islam. Tawfik Hamid, a former Islamist terrorist who later renounced his past and exposed Islamic tactics, wrote in the New York Times in 2007 that CAIR uses the “charge of Islamophobia as a tool to intimidate and blackmail those … who rightly criticize current Islamic practices and preachings.” He added:
Why do we hear no Muslim condemnation of the ongoing slaughter of Buddhists in Thailand by Islamic groups? Why was there silence over the Mumbai train bombings which took the lives of over 200 Hindus in 2006? … Where is the Muslim outcry over the Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq?
Hamid further exposed CAIR’s blatant hypocrisy with this:
Islamophobia could end when masses of Muslims demonstrate in the streets against videos displaying innocent people being beheaded with the same vigor we employ against airlines, Israel and cartoons of Muhammad.
It might cease when Muslims unambiguously and publicly insist that Sharia law should have no binding legal status in free, democratic societies.
It is well past time that Muslims [read: CAIR] cease using the charge of "Islamophobia" as a tool to intimidate and blackmail those who speak up against suspicious passengers and against those who rightly criticize current Islamic practices and preachings.
At the moment CAIR seems able to shake off challenges such as those iterated by Hamid and publicized by the producers of Honor Diaries.
A famous English proverb notes: "A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on."
Truth, alas, still appears to be getting its boots on.
A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at