Monday, June 29, 2009

Investigating Norma Khouri in Forbidden Lie$


Last week I started reading newly released Murder in the name of Honor by fellow Jordanian Rana Husseini. I’m somewhere in the middle and it’s a great book. I’ll save the review for a different post when I’m done. I’ll just say if it was up to me I’d read the whole book in one sitting….but unfortunately life calls.

Chapter 10 in the book titled Two Steps Back had me doing some of my own research. This chapter describes the damage that was done to furthering activism and awareness to stop honor killings by Jordanian author Norma Khouri who published a book in 2003 titled Forbidden Love. Khouri tells the story of her and her best friend who grew up in an extremely oppressive and backwards Jordanian society that eventually resulted in the honor killing of her best friend by her father. It was later established that the story was fabricated but unfortunately the revelation was after it had already gained great popularity. I’ve read about the Khouri scandal in brief on blogs before-the one that sticks out at the moment is this post from the Black Iris.

I’m not even thinking about reading this book, not for any closed minded reasons but simply because time is a limited resource and there are too many books I actually really want to read; however, I became very curious as to what would motivate Khouri to do what she did in such a brazen manner. I find it hard to believe that she’s passionate about this human rights abuse that she allegedly exposes. One thing she does seem to be passionate about is telling stories. Was her primary motive to seek fame, attention, or money? Or maybe she just has some loose screws in the head! Could she have actually convinced herself that her story sorta kinda did happen and was close enough to the reality?

Apparently many others shared those same curiosities and a group of folks decided to make a documentary out of investigating her story and exposing Norma Khouri. The film titled Forbidden Lie$ came out in 2007 and is an investigation of the story itself as well as an of its author who conned readers worldwide. You probably surfed on this post thinking you were about to read a review of the documentary you already heard about. Nope, sorry...I can't even find it!


For some reason that's driving me crazy I have been unable to access the film's official website from my connection. It's unavailable on netflix but I was able to "save" if and when Netflix bring it on board. Blockbuster online and my local Blockbusters also don't carry it. Does anyone know how I can watch this documentary?

Here's the trailer via youtube. If you got the chance to see it, what'd you think?





19 comments:

celebral seductress said...

forbidden lies was actually 1 of d best novel i've read cos i cried reading it...

KJ said...

She might have written the book for a variety of reasons. She probably had an honest approach that with such a story she might raise public awareness, but in this day and age I don't think that was it.

She could have saved herself this whole mess by putting in "this is a work of fiction" and keep it at that. Who reads fine print anyway.

Anonymous said...

Reading "Murder in the name of honour" is one of the most difficult things I have done recently!! the stories are so frustrated.. I can not but be shcoked due to the fact that women are still loosing thier lives for such a reason.. god bless them all

Jawahir Jewels (JJ) said...

one individual can not make statments for all of us women in this part of the world or aligations as such

asoom said...

celebral sedectress....I'm sure it's probably very emotionally captivating. Remember though, it's fake!

KJ, I highly doubt her motive was to just raise public awareness. If she had such a pure intent she would gone about it a different way

Anon, it is sad that this phenomenon is still occurring in this day and age as Rana Husseini documents in her recent book Murder in the Name of Honour...Keep in mind that Khouri's story is fiction!

JJ, yes and sadly it happens ALL the time!

Anonymous said...

I saw the movie today--and fell asleep right near the end--I desperately need to know how it ends! If you see the movie you will become even more confused about what is real and what was fiction--That woman is a piece of work!

asoom said...

anon, where did you get to see it, and why are you anonymous?

Sasha222 said...

I just watched the film this morning and then googled her name (how I found your post). In my honest opinion and from complete instinct I feel this woman totally is a pathological liar and con-artist. You can see it in her eyes, her expression, and her constant excuses. Her story is constantly changing throughout the entire film and every time she got caught on one lie, a whole new lie would come into play that was even more dramatic in order to draw attention away from her being confronted. I honestly don't understand why this woman isn't behind bars, or at least in a psychiatric hospital right now.

tim_g said...

i DLed the movie from thepiratebay.org - it's so good! but i agree that you will just come out of the whole thing more confused

Brea McCain said...

This movie is currently showing on Showtime. If you go to sho.com you can find out when it is airing. Great documentary.

Anonymous said...

Honestly

What Norma Khouri portrayed in her book actually DOES represent many of the lives of Jordanian women and women around the world living in such circumstances. Whether or not the details were exactly true does not matter when you see the goal of bringing awareness to such a crucial issue. The dramatic effect, which may have misrepresented many Muslim women who do have more freedom, is sadly a strategy to bring in an audience of readers who are hooked through such sensationalism. I am not Muslim so I do not know what it feels like to be generalized into such a category if I actually did have the freedom that Khouri claims most Muslim women do not have. Still, if one can capture how GRAVE and serious these honor killings are, then one might find this generalization to be worth it-for the sake of bringing in readers who will actually learn something from the book. Is it worth it? That is the question. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that Khouri's work, whether completely accurate or not, DOES carry some validity as far as exposing such crimes to the public. As an audience, her intentions, as far as whether she is interested in simply the money alone or whether or not she is passionate about women in conditions of limited freedom, do not really matter. Buy the book if you like it or get over it. If someone is SO appauled about such a generalization of Muslim women-then by all means please write a book about the many freedoms of Muslim women. Free Press-express but don't expect everyone to display your OWN experience-its up to you to put that out there.

asoom said...

thank you all for the comments,

Anon, I'm telling you that as a Jordanian woman you are gravely mistaken and it's very unfortunate that people can believe that such outrageousness is prevalent. Honor crimes do occur and we should do our part to raise awareness, just like murder, rape, and domestic voilence. Norma Khoury's story was fabricated and it made no sense. There's a lot of harm in doing what she did, you're making crazy senseless stories out of a tragedy that does occur. This isn't raising awarness but it's more of raising misguidance. She's an attention seeker and her actions are consistent with that goal. Unfortunately she hurt the cause by giving ammo to the opposition or the doubtful especially by making it as senseless and ridiculous as she did.

Rana Hosseini has been leading the cause to raise awareness on the issue and was one of the first reporters to make light of these honor crime stories in Jordan. SHE called what khouri did as taking "two steps back". No leader of any Jordanian women's rights has sided with her and many have condemned her actions as being seriously counterproductive.

Also you seem to have this guilty until proven innocent attitude when speaking about Muslim women with some of your suggestions. Well I actually don't have to prove anything to you or anyone else, I'm too busy for that. When I see BS I call it and then I move on with my busy life. If you don't know any better than to want to follow and believe 'sensationalist' novels than that's your own ignorance and your own problem. I don't have to write a book for you because you have a problem with common sense.

asoom said...

Brea thank you! I do get showtime as soon as my exams are over I'll see if I can catch it!

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am Norma Khouri. You can believe whatever you like about what my intentions were or are...my intentions from the start were to raise international awareness of the existence of these crimes and the Jordanian Laws which allow for them to continue. Rana Husseini was one of the first reporters to write about Honor Killings....the problem was that she was publishing the stories in the Jordanian Times...a small local circulation english language paper in Jordan...which was not even available on the internet...and still does not archive any of its articles on the net to this day. Now for someone who lives in Europe or the US or any other country other than Jordan...how were they going to become aware of such crimes??? no other media was reporting on it...womens rights issues have never been a media priority unless there were political reasons to report on them as in the case of Afghanistan.

As to KJ...the original US version of the book is actually stamped "fiction"...the book created problems for Jordan...too much attention was being focused on them as a result of the book...that is clearly evidenced in the articles that Jordan published where government officials are quoted as saying that they are receiving too much pressure from the UN and the US "as though this is the only place this happens". Amnesty conducted its own investigation into the number of honor killings that occur there...you should check that report out, so did the UN.

The media and the documentary make a lot of outrageous claims...controversy sells...they also claim I am wanted by the FBI...call the FBI yourself and ask if I am wanted?? I am not. i live and work and pay taxes in the US, I am not in hiding. The money from the book and from the documentary is going to human rights groups...it does not even come through me to go to them...it goes directly to them from publishers and film company...

Maybe I should have done it for money...I wouldn't be working 70 hours a week to pay a mortgage and bills...

Norma

norma(jdoit@lycos.com) said...

Hello, I am Norma Khouri. You can believe whatever you like about what my intentions were or are...my intentions from the start were to raise international awareness of the existence of these crimes and the Jordanian Laws which allow for them to continue. Rana Husseini was one of the first reporters to write about Honor Killings....the problem was that she was publishing the stories in the Jordanian Times...a small local circulation english language paper in Jordan...which was not even available on the internet...and still does not archive any of its articles on the net to this day. Now for someone who lives in Europe or the US or any other country other than Jordan...how were they going to become aware of such crimes??? no other media was reporting on it...womens rights issues have never been a media priority unless there were political reasons to report on them as in the case of Afghanistan.

As to KJ...the original US version of the book is actually stamped "fiction"...the book created problems for Jordan...too much attention was being focused on them as a result of the book...that is clearly evidenced in the articles that Jordan published where government officials are quoted as saying that they are receiving too much pressure from the UN and the US "as though this is the only place this happens". Amnesty conducted its own investigation into the number of honor killings that occur there...you should check that report out, so did the UN.

The media and the documentary make a lot of outrageous claims...controversy sells...they also claim I am wanted by the FBI...call the FBI yourself and ask if I am wanted?? I am not. i live and work and pay taxes in the US, I am not in hiding. The money from the book and from the documentary is going to human rights groups...it does not even come through me to go to them...it goes directly to them from publishers and film company...

Maybe I should have done it for money...I wouldn't be working 70 hours a week to pay a mortgage and bills...

Norma

PS Sasha222...its called film editing.

Anonymous said...

As a human being, whether Muslim, Christian, male or female I denounce honor crimes. Islam is innocent from these old ignorant traditions. How can a human being kill another to clean his honor? Honor crimes do exist and occur and we should all as a society do our part and raise awareness, just like we do with other murder, rape and domestic violence.
Norma Khoury’s intention was not to raise awareness; if she did she would have been honest from the beginning. Norma could have contacted the right resources and obtained the right and truthful FACTS about honor killings. Norma could have contacted Rana Hosseini and worked close with her to get the true facts and stories about these crimes. Rana was one of the first reporters to make light of these honor crime stories in Jordan. Norma claims that rana’s awareness was thru her stories in a local small newspaper and that she (norma) wants the issue to be known globally. Here is my point, if Norma wanted the world to know about the truth she should have contacted the right people in Jordan and got their opinions, facts and statistics about these crimes. Instead Norma fabricated a story that made no sense and made lot of harm while doing it. Norma based her novel on stories out of a tragedies that do occur. She did more harm than awareness.
Norma labeled every Muslim house to have an honor killing waiting to happen. Is every Christian a con artist like you? Off course not, because you only represent yourself, your own sick minded self. All I can say is shame on you for deceiving all of us.

I was watching Forbidden Lie$ yesterday at first I sympathized with Norma then I am shocked to say that my empathy was entirely wasteful. The most shocking thing to me is when Broinowski investigates she finds more and more contradictions in Khouri's version of the truth. Each time an inconsistency is found, with a straight face Khouri adds more to the story and makes it more complex. Each contradiction is patched with a new story tailor-made to win the sympathies of the listener.
I read somewhere that “Norma is a fraud; Norma is a conwoman; Norma is a thief, a liar, a breaker of hearts and a stealer of fortunes; she’s as dangerous a creature as one can find – a manipulative, controlling narcissist, charming and alluring, but utterly untrustworthy. In short, a person best left well alone. She finds this hilarious” All I can say is Amen

Anonymous said...

Whether Norma lied or not, what she really did was amazing. No doubt honour crimes exsist, they are sexist and unhuman and should be stopped. This story touched many hearts,changed many lives and gave people that passion to try and stop this terrible law. I think calling her a 'liar' and a 'con artist' and saying she should be locked behind bars is harsh and unnessary because although the story itself may be fake, what norma is really doing is taking action against something that needs to be stopped.
Good luck Norma, you work has been amazing, i truly look up to you.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kl4rjsAiuY&feature=player_embedded

asoom said...

Thank you!!!