January 05, 2012

Stoning in Iran

As a vivid example of the ghastliness that can ensue when religious people gain political power, we have the case of people who are condemned to death by stoning in Iran. According to an ACLU pamphlet that I received, at least 14 people are currently awaiting this form of execution.

Bound, wrapped in shrouds and buried in a pit with head and shoulders above ground, the victims are likely to survive for between 20 minutes and two hours from when the first stone draws blood. The reason they survive so long can be found in the chillingly clinical wording of Article 104 of the Iranian Penal Code:

'The size of the stone used in stoning shall not be too large to kill the convict by one or two throws and at the same time shall not be too small to be called a stone.'

As can be seen in this passage and in the instruments of torture and death developed during the Inquisition, religious people can be quite ingenious in the careful way they devise ways to prolong the agony of their victims.

One Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, is awaiting such an execution because of an adultery conviction. Maryam Namazie has been highlighting her case, hoping to win her freedom.


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The problem with demonizing Iran is that it plays right into the hands of the deranged Republican warmongers who would like to stage their next military adventure there.

While your primary purpose is to expose the depravity and hypocrisy of religious fundamentalists - qualities that manifest themselves with alarming frequency among the G.O.P.'s base - our supposed patriots will easily sidestep their similarity to the regime they despise. A pinch of cognitive dissonance combined with a heaping spoonful of American arrogance is a potent recipe for yet another red, white, and blue bloodbath.

Your critique could easily be distorted, in the manner of the late Christopher Hitchens, into part of a war on Islam. We need to be very careful what we wish for in this fevered climate.

Posted by Jeffrey Thompson on January 5, 2012 10:17 PM


I see your point and was cognizant of the danger when I wrote the post but I think one has the obligation to call out oppression and injustice whenever and wherever it occurs while simultaneously fighting those who will try to exploit those same injustices to commit more injustices. So I think we can and should condemn the wrong actions of the Iranian government while opposing any attempt to start a war with that country.

To not do so is to essentially sacrifice the interests of the helpless individuals at the receiving end of these ghastly practices in the service of advancing geopolitical goals.

I just cannot bring myself to do that.

Posted by Mano on January 5, 2012 10:31 PM