Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Death by stoning reaffirms inhumanity


This is not my first nor will it be my last piece about the inhuman human being that does not flinch an inch when it comes to senselessly butchering one of his own. It is when I read stories such as 43 year Iranian Sakineh Mohamamadi Ashtiani’s ordeal, that I really feel ashamed of calling myself a human, more so a male one.


There are few situations that ever prompt me to be ashamed of my humanity or manhood, but it happened in a flash after reading about this woman who is about to be stoned to death over suspected adultery with two men who are alleged to have subsequently murdered her husband. This case sounds unbelievably flawed and is as porous as a pair of fishnet stockings even by my layman's knowledge of legal matters. I hope that it is not too late as I write this or as you read it, for us to pray for God's intervention in saving this woman's life and to be with her 16 and 20 year old children who have made this touching appeal to the Iranian authorities (though not touching enough it seems): on their mother's behalf: http://missionfreeiran.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/sakine-children-2/


I have been trying in vain to put myself in the gory shoes of the members of Iran's Morality Police or whoever it is that must literally cast the Biblical first stone. That perfect, sinless and blameless man who will immerse this woman up to her shoulders in a hole, then fill it up so that she can not move when he and his fellow disciplinarians go about their business of smashing her head in a slow and excruciatingly painful death.


Will this man have full conviction in his inner core that this is the best way of serving the interests of justice? A justice system that has more respect for murderers than adulterers and hangs them instead of stoning them? Will the stoner be truly convinced that this woman is guilty given that there are no witnesses in her case and her confession was extracted after a hundred lashings of the whip? Will it not bother him at all that this sentence was passed by a higher court that had been tasked to deal with Ashtiani's appeal for a reduction of the initial sentence of lashings? Will his conscience not at all question why if the woman had two adulterous affairs, there is only one person being stoned? Does it not take at least two to tango? Not in Iran it seems.


This is one of the weird cases where a false picture is created that the harsh penal codes of some of our Southern African states are actually child's play in comparison with the tough laws of countries like Iran. A month in the slammer in a Zimbabwean or Swaziland jail for addressing an "illegal rally" or insulting the country's leadership suddenly becomes kid glove treatment as do a few lashings administered by a Botswana village head on a livestock thief. Unless of course you are in the war torn regions of Africa, the DRCs and Dafours, then your being on a different continent from Iran might not exactly be a cause to heave a sigh of relief.


Let us pray unceasingly for Ashtiani and others in similar predicaments. Whether they are guilty or not does not take away the stark reality of human nature's cruel side. More organisations and individuals need to unite with and support the International Committee Against Stoning in their cause to bring an end to this barbaric practice. The very fact that an organisation going by such a name should exist and be relevant in this day and age brings a profound sadness. It glaringly illustrates that human life in many places is still a negotiable privilege not a right.

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