Lena Dunham is on the receiving end of a social media backlash after the news that she’s been commissioned to write the script for a film about a Syrian refugee who was stranded at sea.

It was revealed on Monday (October 29th) that Dunham was asked by filmmakers Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams to adapt the book ‘A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea’, the harrowing story of Doaa Al-Zamel, a Syrian refugee who survived the sinking of the boat on which she was attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

However, when Dunham, the creator of HBO’s successful series ‘Girls’, re-tweeted the Variety news article, she was immediately accused of being a part of a ‘whitewashing’ of the story. 

Among the torrent of negative reactions, Syrian-Cuban social media editor of Romper Suzanne Samin said: “Please leave Syrian stories alone if you aren’t Syrian and especially if you are Lena Dunham. Thank you.”

Lena DunhamLena Dunham will be adapting the script

She also questioned whether Dunham had ever donated to refugee relief efforts, adding: “Just curious if you’ve at least done that before you profit off my people’s pain!”

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However, in the latest issue of her Lenny newsletter, 32 year old Dunham specifically replied to Samin and invited her to work on the script with her. “If you’d ever like to discuss the project, I like to receive perspectives and engage in dialogue,” she said.

The book’s actual author, Melissa Fleming, head of communications of the United Nations Refugee Agency, also defended the project by writing: “The book is a true story entrusted to me by Doaa. If I hadn’t written it, I am afraid it would have not been told, her voice was a one-day news story. I have been given every assurance this screen adaption and movie will remain true.”

Spielberg and Abrams are due to act as producers on the movie, with short-film specialist Arif Hussein confirmed as executive producer. No director has yet been attached to the project.

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