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A last-minute effort to stop stoning of Iranian woman

Sandy Smith's picture

An Iranian mother of two will be stoned to death in Iran for a crime she may not have committed unless human rights activists succeed at generating last-minute opposition to the stoning.

The woman, Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, was convicted of adultery in 2006. She confessed to the crime after being subjected to 99 lashes, but retracted her confession later and has since denied wrongdoing. She has asked for clemency from the Iranian courts, but has been rebuffed.

The case contained irregularities that call the verdict into question, activists point out. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei pointed out that Ashtiani, a woman of Azeri descent from the northern city of Tabriz, may not have understood the proceedings, as she speaks Turkish, not Farsi. In addition, the case appears to have violated Article 74 of the Iranian penal code, which requires at least four witnesses -- either four men or three men and two women -- for an adulterer to receive a stoning sentence. There were no witnesses in Ashtiani's case.

But as the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 2007, Ashtiani has no legal recourse. Veteran Iranian human rights activist Mina Ahadi, head of the International Committee Against Stoning and the Death Penalty, told CNN, "Legally it's all over. It's a done deal. Sakineh can be stoned at any minute.

"That is why we have decided to start a very broad, international public movement. Only that can help."

Death by stoning involves burying the person to be executed up to his or her neck, then hurling large stones at the head. The stones are large enough to cause serious pain, but do not produce immediate death. According to Amnesty International, women make up a disproportionate number of those sentenced to death by stoning, accounting for a sizable majority of all such cases. Amnesty has called on Iranian officials to immediately call a halt to all executions, commute all death sentences, and move towards repeal of its death penalty laws. Amnesty reports 126 persons had been executed in Iran from January 1 to June 6 of this year.

Ahadi said that Iranian clerics have historically been sensitive to world opinion in matters like this. "Experience shows [that] ... when the pressure gets very high, the Islamic government starts to say something different."

The U.S. State Department has also criticized the stoning, saying it raises questions of serious human rights violations in Iran.

Written by Sandy Smith


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I think this is an outrage! Not only was this woman unfairly tried but this type of punishment is inhumane.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I am so hurting for this woman and her 2 children. I recently saw the movie the stoning of Soraya M. It broke my heart , I couldn't help the tears from flowing down my hurt my soul! I pray our Father in Heaven watch over this woman and many other Iranian women along with there loved ones who have been effected by this. This is so inhumane!!!!!

Submitted by pa.mohamed ameen (not verified) on
Stoning to death as a punishment for adultery is NO WHERE spoken of in the Holy Quran. At one instance stoning was done to a Jew- that was based on the Jewish Holy Book. The Jews referred a case on fornication to Muhammad-the Messenger of God (pbuh). He asked them what punishment the Torah prescribed in case of adultery. The Jews tried first to conceal the fact that it was stoning to death, but the Jewish scholar living then ( Abd-Allah ibn Salam) admitted the existence of such a punishment and the guilty persons were dealt with as given in Torah ( Bukhari 61;25). The New Testament narrates a similar incident during the time of Jesus Christ(puh) I quote from John Chapter 8 Verses 3,4 and 5. Verse 3. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to him (Jesus) a woman caught in adultery. And when they set her in the midst. Verse 4. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the VERY ACT. Verse 5. “Now Moses, in the law commanded us that such SHOULD BE STONED. But what do you say?” JOHN 8: 3-5 So you can see that stoning was the punishment for adultery in the Jewish Law and that in the case of Jewish offenders, this punishment was resorted to by the Holy Prophet Muhammad( pbuh) when he was the ruler of Medinah. Was the same punishment given to Muslims in Medinah at any time? Yes. It is true that the same punishment was given in certain cases when the offenders were Muslims. BUT CERTAINLY THIS WAS BEFORE THE REVELATION OF THE QURANIC VERSE 24:2. “ As for the adulteress and the adulterer-flog each of them with a hundred stripes, and let not compassion with them keep you from this law of God, if you believe in God and the Last Day; and let a group of the believers witness their chastisement” 24:2 Verse 24:2 speaks of MILD flogging, aiming at disgracing the offenders rather than torturing. The number of those to witness has been deliberately left unspecified, thus indicating that while the mild punishment must be given publicly, it need not be made a ‘public spectacle’. The Arabic word for flogging is JALD( means: skin). In other words, the punishment by flogging should be felt only by the skin. It aims more at disgracing the culprits rather than torturing them. Hence the Holy Quran positively excludes death or stoning to death. In fact, anyone who does deep research and objective interpretation of the Quranic Verse 4: 25, can see that, all possibilities of death as a punishment for adultery are precluded. Verse 4.25 gives the law on punishing for immoral conduct (fornication) Of believing maidens ( the community rightfully possess) They shall be liable to HALF the penalty to which free married women are liable. The weaker social status of a slave woman makes her, obviously more accessible to sexual temptation than a free married woman is presumed to be. Now the important point here is to understand that the number of 100 flogging can be halved but death or stoning to death can never be halved. So it is very clear that the Holy Quran speaks about flogging not death as a punishment for adultery. Now the question arises: Why did the prophet punish the Muslim adulterers making use of the Laws of Moses? The answer is, it was the Prophet’s practice to follow the earlier revealed law until he received an amended and a definite law on a specific wrong doing. People well versed in the evolution of Islamic law knew that drinking of alcohol was not prohibited in the beginning. People were not allowed to come to pray being drunk, but drinking itself was not forbidden until much later. The same thing was true about personal money lending and charging interest on personal loan as it was practised by Abbas (raa) The revelation about the prohibition on interest on personal lending was received just a short while before the death of the Prophet. The interpretation of the Quranic laws have been continuously developing and evolving and scholars have been elaborating and making changes to the earlier interpretations. Quran is the one and the only miracle of Islam. The adoring beauty of the Quran is that it throws a different light or a new light according to the time. No scholar’s interpretation on the Quran is the last word or final. Taqi ad Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyah ( 8th century’s greatest scholar)or Razi or Abu Muslim, might have given an interpretation on a particular Verse, but a great scholar like Shah Waliyullah ( 18th century) might have differed from that interpretation. And now in the 21st century, Sheikh Qaradawi may find earlier interpretations highly objectionable on several counts and give a totally different meaning to the same Verse based on the particular circumstances of the society now. The beauty of the Quran is that there is absolutely no change in the original revealed words but interpretations keep changing according to the environment, circumstances, facts and lives of people. People who are going to live in the 25th century may find new light in the Quran that the present day scholars have never dreamt of. Moreover, it is also for the Shariyah judge to decide the sort of punishment to be given to suit the circumstances. Great latitude is allowed to the judge in the choice of punishments. So what we need is stronger Iman and deeper research in order to understand the immense wisdom behind the Qu’ranic laws. We should not jump to hasty conclusions. If all the trees are turned into pens and all the seas are turned into ink, the pens and the ink will be exhausted but God’s words will never be exhausted. Modern man thinks he is too intelligent and hence foolishly questions even some of the most accepted Quranic ethics probably because he wants to compete with the fast changing decadent Western culture and try to appease and apologize. There is nothing to apologize in the laws of One True Almighty God. God knew Best.

Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on
My jaw just dropped when I read about this woman and her story. I cannot BELIEVE that she would be treasted so inhunanely....We as a country, in America, have got things way too easy. When a woman or a man cheats here, its not considered any big deal, and nothing like this would ever happen. It is of course without saying that cheating is a terrible thing....but to stone someone to death over it? Thats disgusting. The people of Iran should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. This poor woman may not have even committed the crime! WHERES the evidence? She was probably coerced into saying she committed this crime and in reality, she never did anything to begin with. What a beautiful woman, and tragically taken away from her children and life, because of communist, unrighteous, inhumane ways.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
As a man who is faithfully married, I question why don't they punish the men who also participated in adultery?

Submitted by Gerald (not verified) on
How about we mind our own business and stop trying to be the world's policeman. Yeah, life's a bitch in those shithole countries, but it's our meddling in their affairs that has caused all the upset in the world. Leave them alone. Let them be brutal and savage. They'll evolve or not on their own at their own pace. If you want to wring your hands and gnash your teeth, do it quietly in your own house. Leave the towelheads alone to live as they choose.

Submitted by CPT Bill (not verified) on
You are obviously a moron. it's people like you that allowed Hitler to embark upon his quest. You are lucky enough to enjoy the freedoms many Americans died for. It's a disgrace to their memories that you even speak. Go sit in your living room, light up your crack pipe and leave the real world to deal with problems. You make me sick.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Can't blame George W. Bush on this one!

Submitted by Matthew (not verified) on
I will simply say that if you have to ask why this is wrong or go into the details of the case then you may be part of the cause of such things. Is there anything that this woman could have done witch would warrant such a brutal act of punishment. What ever happened to mercy. I can not attest to this woman's guilt or innocence because i was not there, but i can say that i as a human being are willing to forgive her.

Submitted by Janan (not verified) on
this has to be stopped, i have not seen an updated report, yet we are here just going about our lives with our hands held down, we are powerless as citizens, the president needs to get involved & demand a fair trial, here in the USA & get her & HER family out of Iran now! Let her be tried here, and if a supposed punishment is supposedly due, let US do it service, whatever, if there's no proper evidence, then she needs to simply be freed!


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