Emmy Award- winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan was scared for her life when she met with Neo-Nazis for the first time.

Her fear perpetuated her. As Khan filmed members of the group, some of them followed her around, threatening to kill her if she made one wrong move.

“In my mind, I was just thinking if anything happens right now, which it probably will, they could just bury me right here and nobody would ever know,” Khan said.

Despite her fear and distrust and dislike from the neo-Nazis, she wanted to know why men could hate so much.

“I decided to pick up my camera and go and see if I could sit down with people who feel this intense dislike, or even hatred, towards people like me,” Khan told Peace News.

The question of why men could hate so much, inspired her to release her film “White Right: meeting the Enemy.”

“For me it’s about primarily getting in touch with our common humanity,” Khan told Peace News. “To see if it’s possible for us to break down the prejudices that exist between groups.”

Her first interview was with Ken Parker, a member of the National Socialist Movement, the biggest white supremacist organization in America.

Parker’s bare torso was adorned with a swastika tattoo on the right of his chest and a Klan tattoo on the left.

Khan asked him, “Does it matter to you that I think what you are doing is wrong?” 

Parker answered with a “no” and became increasingly frustrated and nervous as the questions rolled on. He admitted he was “not responsible for other people’s feelings.” 

Khan went on to describe the experience. First describing it as awkward without the anticipated context of angry mobs shouting — but then conveyed  a dynamic shift. She continued to be a listening ear.

Overtime, Khan interviewed other white supermarkets and neo-nazis, trying to figure out their motivations.

She figured out that most of the hate stemmed from the stories of their past rooted in abandonment, not fitting in, hopelessness, shame and humiliation, and longing to belong.

“They’re rejected for various reasons in other aspects of their lives,” she explained. “So whether it is feeling rejected by women, or by the job market, by society at large, or feeling as if you don’t measure up, not feeling good enough, shame, feeling humiliated, feeling emasculated.”

Khan added on stating that while there are hate groups — a lot of their actions are driven by love — a love for fellow members of the group who have given them a sense of family and a sense of purpose.

After Khan interviewed Parker and others like him, she felt a sense of liberation.

“It reminded me that they are just people, they are just human beings,” she said. “I have spent my entire life being stereotyped, I am not going to turn around and do that to somebody else.”

The Norwegian born filmmaker, who now resides in the UK recently earned an International Emmy award for her film and was previously nominated for BAFTA awards. Her film was released to Netflix in June and is streaming in America and the UK.

Parker eventually became touched by Khan’s actions. So touched, he removed all his hateful tattoos and renounced his membership in these organizations.

“He turned his back on the entire community,” Khan said. “He left them behind based on a principle he no longer wants to subscribe to.”

Overall, in reflecting on her documentary, Khan realized her project’s main aspect. 

“We all have the capacity to effect change,” she said. “Just being human beings with each other, threatening each other with respect and dignity. You know how we feel when someone smiles at us or says something nice, it makes us feel great. The same if someone gives us a dirty look, it shifts how we feel.”



Chiara Elena will plan to graduate in May 2019 with a B.S. in English: Journalism and minors in writing and biblical studies. She has written for Corban University's "Hilltop News" and the Odyssey Online. When she is not writing articles, she adores writing short stories and poetry. She is also working on a novel right now. When not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, swimming, walks on the beach, adventuring, making music, giving back to special needs children and those experiencing homelessness, and spending time with family and friends.