A top Muslim female doctor — who appears in the controversial documentary "Honor Diaries," which explores the horrific violence faced by Muslim women — says the backlash the film is receiving is unwarranted.
"It is actually a very well-balanced documentary,'' Dr. Qanta Ahmed, author of "In the Land of Invisible Women," told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"The nine activists featured have worked hard to support women and rescue children facing some of the hardships."
The Council for American Islamic Relations alleges that the movie — which looks at such subjects as genital mutilation and honor killings — is an attempt to smear Islam.
The council convinced officials at the University of Michigan to cancel a screening of the film last week, and hopes to quash other screenings.
"[The film is] in no way defamatory or phobic to Islam or any other belief system and that distinction is clear based on the fact that many of us involved in this project for the last two years are Muslim," Ahmed said.
"These problems are exposed and addressed in Muslim societies by our own Muslim equivalents."
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The 61-minute movie, produced by Paula Kweskin, is available on Amazon Instant Video.
One article posted on the Web claims that the documentary has an agenda and was produced by biased Jews. Ahmed dismissed the smear.
"Anti-Semitism is a very virulent brand. It's central to Islamist thought," she said.
"Indeed, many of the individuals that I worked with are Jewish. I have no problem with that. Many of them are Christian or they are Muslim or atheists, whatever their private background.
"I would collaborate on this documentary with the maker of any origin. In fact I'd welcome a Muslim documentary maker doing this same thing. Let's bring some Arab and Muslim money into this project and do it."
The documentary describes how Muslim women are allowed no choices about marriage, are severely restricted as they grow up and are forced into ritual circumcision.
"[That] is not an Islamic practice but has become embedded in many modern Muslim cultures as a violation and absolute lack of voice for human rights for Muslim women," Ahmed said.
"Particularly in countries of -- my family origin in Pakistan, this is a huge problem. There's legislation present in many of these societies which disempowers women.
"This is a serious documentary for people who want to raise awareness about women and girls."
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