Sunday, April 13, 2008

Films focus-Muslim women

A fresh focus on Muslim women
New film festival seeks to challenge old stereotypes
By Leslie Brokaw
April 13, 2008

Aiming to present a "stereotype-defying tour of the Muslim world's diversity and complexity," the festival says it's chosen movies with central characters who are especially "think-different women" - people who challenge extremism and "offer rarely heard iconoclastic voices."

Irshad Manji is one of those voices. "Faith Without Fear," which opens the festival tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in the Sargent Building at Boston University, is a look by Manji - journalist, director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, and author of the 2004 bestseller "The Trouble With Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith" - at the risks and promises of having a conversation about reform.

"A couple of years after the family settled down, my dad discovered free baby-sitting services at Rose of Sharon Baptist Church," writes Manji, who immigrated as a child from Uganda to Canada in 1972, in her book. As her mom went out to sell Avon door-to-door, Manji settled into Bible study classes and exhibited enough curiosity to win the Most Promising Christian of the Year Award.

Thus began a lifetime of embracing, questioning, and challenging.

Raquel Evita Saraswati from Manji's Project Ijtihad, an initiative to "help build the world's most inclusive network of reform-minded Muslims and non-Muslim allies," will lead a discussion after the movie.

Other films include "Mrs. President: Women and Political Leadership in Iran," about six of the 47 Iranian women who registered as candidates for Iranian president in 2001 and were disqualified by ruling clerics. That film's producer, Shahla Haeri, is director of Boston University's Women's Studies Program and will speak after the Thursday 6:30 p.m. screening at BU.

"Shadya" is a profile of 17-year-old Shadya Zoabi: Muslim Arab, Israeli, feminist, soon-to-be-wife - and world champion in karate. It plays Wednesday. Peabody award-winning filmmaker Paul Freedman's "Sand and Sorrow" is a documentary about Darfur refugees and the Displaced Persons camps, and includes commentary from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, with narration by George Clooney. It plays on Tuesday.

Festival curator Mohammed Harba is a 27-year-old filmmaker from Iraq now living in Massachusetts. Five years ago, he partnered with Seth Moulton, a US Marine lieutenant from Massachusetts, on a news show for Iraqi television called "Moulton and Mohammed" about the life in that country after the US-invasion. Both men became well known in Iraq for their presentation of both the good and the bad happening in the country.

The festival is presented by the American Islamic Congress in conjunction with the Women's Studies Program at Boston University, the Pathways Interfaith Initiative at Tufts University, the Global Film Initiative, and Americans for Informed Democracy. A shorter version of the program is running concurrently in Washington, D.C.

Screenings take place on seven evenings between tomorrow and April 30, on the campuses of Boston University, Tufts University, and Endicott College. The schedule is online at, or call 617-266-0080 for more information.

more stories like thisCONVERSATIONS WITH: Journalist and director Polly Devlin will be at the Harvard Film Archive tonight at 7 with her 1990 one-hour work "The Daisy Chain," a documentary about a boarding school. The project erupted into a tempest for Devlin when a subject withdrew her cooperation.

"Amid the accusations of manipulation and betrayal, the viewer can never be certain of the truth, never sure when the protagonists are performing for the camera and when they are genuinely its victims," Devlin says in a statement provided by the archive.

"Just before the screening the then-director of [my] film school refused to allow it to be shown," she says. "I was not allowed to graduate." Devlin says that she withdrew the film and has not shown it for nearly 20 years.

Jennifer Fox brings her three-hour work "Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman" to the MFA this week. The five-year project is a document of Fox's love life and those of women in 17 countries, asking questions such as whether choice equals happiness and what sexual freedom really means. It will be presented in two parts: the first half on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m., and the second half on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. Fox will be present at the Thursday and Friday shows.

SCREENINGS OF NOTE: The Belmont World Film series closes tonight with the New England premiere of "Irina Palm," which premiered at last year's Berlin Film Festival and stars Marianne Faithfull. That's at 7:30 p.m. at the Studio Cinema in Belmont (617-484-3980 and

"Then She Found Me," starring Helen Hunt as a teacher getting over a separation from her husband (Matthew Broderick) by dating a student's parent (Colin Firth), gets a pre-release screening by the Boston Jewish Film Festival at the West Newton Cinema on Thursday at 7 p.m. Northampton-based Elinor Lipman, who wrote the book on which the movie is based, will be at the show (617-244-9899 and

Leslie Brokaw can be reached at

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.