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A Miscellany 216
See the Movie, Spread the Movement

by: Irshad Manji

(Irshad Manji is an author and activist who has a feminist reform-minded Muslim perspective.)

To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your thoughts.

film poster

Dear friends,

I have to tell you about a new film that has moved me beyond words. 

"The Stoning of Soraya M." is banned in Iran, just released in America, and soon to be distributed in the Middle East. Based on a true story, it portrays a young Iranian mother who's framed by her husband and stoned to death by her village.

Among the mob is one voice of moral courage: Soraya's aunt, Zahra, played by award-winning Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (co-star of "House of Sand and Fog"). A faithful Muslim, Zahra speaks truth to power and tries to stop the stoning. She fails.

hand raised with stone

But Zahra does something at the end of the film that affirms a timeless lesson for all people of conscience -- whatever we're powerless to change at this moment, we can choose to use our voices for longer-term impact. Isn't that what Iran's brave demonstrators are proving?

"The Stoning of Soraya M." has now opened in select theaters throughout the US. Its box office success in the coming days will determine its future. Please support Soraya by going to see it. Where? I'll explain in a minute.

The Moral Courage Campaign for Soraya

So gripping and gorgeously produced is this film, so universally urgent are the issues it raises, that I'm doing something more than watching it. 

My leadership program, the Moral Courage Project, has just launched a human rights campaign inspired by the memory of Soraya and the voice of Zahra. Come to our brand new website, www.moralcourage.com, and join the movement to end the heinous cultural ritual of stoning.

On moralcourage.com, you'll see three zones:

My moral courage team is already blogging. So am I -- take a look at my reply to a commentator who ripped the film apart. Right underneath my reply, you can submit comments of your own. That's the case with all posts on moralcourage.com. Please respond to our ideas and, better still, add yours.

Throughout July and August, we'll arrange online discussions with the film's director, producers, and yes, even its stars. In the photo below, I joined Shohreh, Mozhan Marno ("Soraya") and Tina Brown, editor of TheDailyBeast.com, to publicize the movie.

TheDailyBeast.com, a popular news site in America, is amplifying our campaign. When you engage with the moral courage team, you'll be giving us content to post on The Daily Beast, too.  So please be honest, un-scripted, and real. Moral courage celebrates your freedom as much as Soraya's.




Exclusive Film Clips for You

To ensure that everybody's included, especially if you live outside the US, the director is allowing us (and only us) to post additional film clips.  Watch them exclusively on moralcourage.com.

Which brings me back to the full movie. Where can you catch it? The list of US cities and theaters is also on moralcourage.com.

Finally, if you love the spirit of all faiths but oppose the abuse of power, please spread the word about this film and the moral courage campaign through your social networks. As our Iranian heroine, Zahra, proclaims: "The world must know!" 

With the buzz already starting about Shohreh's Oscar-worthy performance, the world will know.

Here's to a meaningful summer,


Video Link

PS: Enjoy this hip-hop video created for the Soraya campaign by a Muslim member of the Mora