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Friday, 23 February 2007

I mentioned that Norma Khouri would be the subject of a movie to be made by filmmaker Anna Broinowski. More details have emerged in a story by well-known journalist David Leser, published in The Australian Women's Weekly this month. It is the magazine with the largest circulation in the country: over 600,000.

Leser reveals for the first time that Khouri admits that she lied in the writing of her book, Forbidden Love.

"Look, I did lie, but I lied for a reason. It wasn't fame and fortune I was after, not at all. It was about the issue [of honour killings]. And I apologise to you for lying. I justified it in my head as the ends justifying the means. I hated lying to anyone about anything."

As for Broinowski, she initially believed Khouri and thought that the American woman was simply the target of male journalists.

"I had this feminist line running in my head," she tells The Weekly now, "that this was a typical witch-hunt ... with mostly male journalists out to make her look evil. That's why I thought I would make this film."

Khouri snatched the headlines in 2003 when she published what she then promoted as a true account of an honour killing in Jordan. Her friend Dalia, she averred, had been stabbed 12 times in the chest because she had fallen love with a Catholic man.

The book sold 200,000 copies in Australia alone.

Leser's story covers all the major actors, including Malcolm Knox, the then literary editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, who travelled to Chicago to investigate Khouri's past after he had been tipped off by a Sydney-based Jordanian.

It also acknowledges Caroline Overington, another Herald journalist who worked on the story.

Broinowski will release the film on Sunday at the Adelaide Film Festival. She says that she still admires Khouri.

"I adore Norma because she's one of the most charismatic women I've ever met and because her audacity knows no bounds. She is the modern equivalent of Machiavelli."

The film is being distributed by Palace Films. It will be released nationally this year.

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