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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Family Says Relative’s Book Defamed Them

(CN) - A Michigan family says a relative disclosed secrets and told lies about them in the book "Caged in America: One Woman's Journey through the Veil." The Sharif family sued author Jasmine Sharif and Open Books Press dba Pen & Publish, which allegedly ignored their pleas to keep the book off the shelves.

In their claim in Detroit Federal Court, seven family members of the Indiana-based author say she defamed them and invaded their privacy in the memoir.

They say she claimed to have changed the names of people in the book to protect "those involved," but refers to them by nicknames that are well known within their community.

The family claims that Sharif calls her father a "monster" in the book. She accuses him of selling her to an adult when she was 13 for $20,000, of beating her mother, and of smoking khat, an illegal drug, the family claims. The family says Sharif also wrote that her mother was involved in illegal activities and smoked khat as well.

The book claims that Sharif's brother beat her and threatened to kill her, and accused him of using marijuana and selling cocaine to raise dowry money.

In her book, Sharif claims that a family member broke into her apartment and "sexually assaulted her by placing his penis into her mouth," according to the complaint.

The family members say the false allegations "do serious harm" to their reputation.

The family claims Sharif has embarrassed and humiliated them by that her mother has lupus and another family member suffers from bipolar disorder.

Sharif's family says that it protested to the publishing house in November, but 100 copies have been sold and distributed so far, and the book is still available to the public and is set to be "fully published" in the "immediate future."

Open Books Press describes "Caged in America" on its Web site as "poignant and unflinching" and says Sharif "tells the riveting true story of one woman's struggle to escape the clenching grip of culture gone wrong. Jasmine Sharif was raised in a Michigan neighborhood where women symbolize a man's power, sheiks decide who can and cannot marry, and fathers sell their daughters."

It continues: "Jasmine endures one tragedy after another. When defiance severs the last threads of family love, abandoning her to a life of abusive husbands, back-stabbing sisters, and self-degradation, she turns to the Quran."

The family demands damages for defamation, invasion of privacy and emotional distress, and wants Sharif and her publisher prohibited from publishing the disparaging accusations.

The family is represented by Nabih H. Ayad of Canton, Mich.

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