Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

'We stretch our hands to the people of the world. No matter who you are or where in the world, save our mother.'
The plea in an open letter written by Sajad Ghadarzade and his sister, Farideh, whose mother faces death by stoning.

Mrs Ashtiani's case has been written about in many blogs and in many newspapers - none have condoned the punishment. William Hague, our Foreign Secretary, has rightly spoken for the people of Britain by saying he is 'appalled'.

As a result of the international outcry it would appear that the stoning has been at least postponed, although the lady still faces the death penalty - for adultery. Adultery is a word rarely used in the western world these days, morals have become looser. During the last century Western 'society' became more tolerant of sexual misdemeanours and wanderings - except for the few who are supposed to 'uphold standards' such as the Royal Family and some members of government, but adultery and sex outside marriage is no longer taboo, no longer an offence apart from offending dignity.

Mrs Rigby is strongly opposed to the death penalty in any form. She doesn't believe it is a suitable punishment for any crime, and she doesn't think any person, no matter how legally important they may be, should be given either the power or the right to instruct 'the authorities' to take the life of any individual - no matter what they may have done wrong. As for stoning, Mrs R finds it hard to think of a more horrible, more barbaric, more terrifyingly brutal, means of execution. Taking a life in this way demeans not only the individual being put to death, it also demeans those carrying out the punishment and indicates nothing more than a lust for power, for power's sake, in those who think this punishment is appropriate. Stoning to death, carefully contrived to be successful by ensuring the victim is buried in a hole in the ground, is a means of killing that should have stayed consigned to the history books, and let's hope this is where it is returned.

The authorities in Iran and indeed many other Muslim countries are trying to rule by fear - in other words they are trying to tell their populations that if they don't behave in a given way then they will be punished and may be given the ultimate penalty. Mrs Ashtiani is being used as an example, in an attempt to enforce a moral code of behaviour where women are subservient and, it appears, where women get the worse punishment for sexual offences - because in Iran and other Muslim countries it's women who are meant to keep themselves covered up, so they don't make men do naughty things. In a way it's no different from somebody in Britain telling a girl who's been raped that, because she wears short skirts, she was 'asking for it' - and it shows an unpleasant mindset that suggests that some men can't control their sexual appetites and so shouldn't be punished when they err.

A system of government, indeed any system of government of whatever political or religious hue, that tries to rule its population by legislation and through fear of consequences, no matter how petty, trivial or brutal has to be condemned, because that form of government is nothing more than dictatorship.

And if you haven't already signed the protest letter and would like to, it's here.


Catosays said...

I've just posted on this too...not as succinctly as you though.

Mark Wadsworth said...


James Higham said...

At the risk of going counter to the flow, yes it is barbaric and appalling but she knew what the penalties were.

There is this tendency for people to see rules, go in and flout them and then act surprised when things - admittedly evil things - happen to them.

It's completely right to have your say on the matter of stoning for adultery but you lessen your case if you first commit adultery, then try to argue your case.

Mrs Rigby said...

@ James.
Agree with the sentiments of your comment, in other words 'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime' etc. Doesn't alter my opinion on either the death penalty or this case

Did you know that she's already been given 90 lashes as a punishment, but it seems a second court decided it wasn't a bad enough punishment.

Out of interest, do you by any chance know what's happened to the men she is supposed to have 'committed adultery' with? What has been their extra punishment - because it doesn't seem to be mentioned in the media. Surely they would be facing a similarly harsh penalty.