The story was published in 2003, it immediately became an international bestseller showered with praise by the press and women’s activists, and sold over half a million copies in fifteen countries. At the time, the Western world, still in shock from 9/11, was preparing to send troops to fight the common enemy, Arab terrorists. But then, a year later, an Australian journalist blew her story of the Jordanian Catholic virgin on-the-run from bloodthirsty Muslims, and, documents at hand proved that “Forbidden Love” was sheer fiction, written by a fugitive not from Jordan but from a life of financial scams and violent family relations, who had lived in Chicago since the age of three, but left in 1999 with the FBI hot on her trail, accusing her of fraud.
When Australian filmmaker Anna Broinowski got wind of the story, she was convinced that the whole thing was a kind of witch-hunt made up by male journalists. “I met her in San Francisco and fell immediately under her spell. When I looked at her I thought, ‘You’re a nice person, modest, beautiful,’ and felt at a gut level the person behind these eyes cannot not lie.”
Today, two years after she made the film and furious about being conned too, Broinowski still doesn’t know what to think of Norma, whether she is “a narcissistic sociopath or a severely damaged person who craves attention and doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. Or just a very good actor.”
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