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The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. This interview with Abdullahi Ahmed an-Naim and Massimo Papa about Iran's stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani on charges of adultery was originally published in Oasis, a Venice-based magazine on Christian-Muslim dialogue. Martino Diez is director of research at the Oasis International Foundation.
By Martino Diez
Professor Naim, what is your assessment of Sakineh’s case?
Officially, the authorities maintain this is a straightforward murder case. Although I have not followed the matter in detail, I think that the ambiguity of the versions produced throughout the years is suspicious and betrays the presence of political manipulation. This poor woman has ended up at the centre of a struggle between different underground factions. There are many cases similar to this. (Photo: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in an undated photo handout from Amnesty International)
About this charge, and especially the (momentarily suspended) sentence, the authorities have invoked Islamic legitimation. Sakineh’s case would be included in the hudùd category, which comprises crimes explicitly defined as such in the Koran itself: murder, adultery, theft, slander and alcohol consumption.
The whole hudùd question is contradictory. To start with, the Koran does not mention stoning for adultery. Besides, traditional norms are very exacting in terms of evidence collecting: they talk about four witnesses who must tell in detail and without contradictions the taking place of the sexual act. The tradition tells of a man who came to accuse himself before the Prophet, and the Prophet thrice over turned his ear to the other side in order not to listen to him. Only the fourth time did he decide to believe the confession that, according to traditional law, must be maintained by the condemned person throughout the execution. In Sakineh’s case, instead, we see an over-eagerness for punishment. Behind this there is a political game.
from Russell Boyce:
As the anniversary of the 9/11 attack coincided with Eid celebrations, Florida based Pastor Terry Jones announced that he would burn the Koran as a protest to plans to site a Muslim cultural centre near Ground Zero , stoking tensions in Asia. Add into the mix millions in Pakistan suffering from lack of water, food and shelter after floods, a parliament election in Afghanistan and a U. S. -led military campaign against the Taliban around Kandahar - photographers in the region had lots of raw material to work with.
Raheb's picture of relief and joy caught in the harsh light of a direct flash seems to explode in a release of tension as news spreads that Pastor Jones had cancelled his plans to burn the Koran. It has to be said that ironically earlier in the day in Pakistan US flags were burned in protest against the planned protest.
Foreign countries should not interfere in Iran's legal system and stop trying to turn the case of a woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery into a human rights issue, Tehran said on Tuesday. (Photo: Demonstrator against stoning in Trafalgar Square, London, August 28, 2010/Paul Hackett)
The case of the 43-year-old mother of two, condemned to death for illicit sex and charged with involvement in her husband's murder, provoked an international outcry, with Brazil offering her asylum and the Vatican speaking out against the "brutal" punishment.
(Photo: Afghans in Kabul protest against Koran burning plan, September 6, 2010/Mohammad Ishaq)
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have warned that a small Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks could endanger the lives of American troops.
The warnings followed an angry protest on Monday by several hundred people in the Afghan capital, Kabul, who chanted "Death to America" as they denounced the planned burning event by the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center church.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's finance minister and spokesman have spoken out forcefully against disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants by a board member of the central bank, raising pressure on him to resign.
The Bundesbank's Thilo Sarrazin, who has previously caused outrage with outspoken criticism of Turks and Arabs living in Germany, took aim at Muslims again in a new book which has been serialised in a popular daily newspaper this week.
(Photo: Protesters urging removal of the cross at the presidential palace. The road sign reads "Attention! Cross defenders." August 9, 2010/Kacper Pempel)
A simple wooden cross honouring victims of a plane crash that killed Poland's president in April has spurred demands that the influence of the powerful Roman Catholic Church be pared back to forge a more secular Poland.
A scout group set a crucifix outside the presidential palace in Warsaw, which turned into a shrine for the victims. Four months later, the three-meter-high cross is still there, festooned with candles and flowers despite attempts by the state and some clergy to move it to a nearby church. The "cross defenders" stood their ground, squabbling with police.
from Global News Journal:
Russia’s ban on grain exports as a heat wave parches crops in the world’s third biggest wheat exporter has raised questions whether such export curbs break World Trade Organization rules. Russia is not a member of the WTO, and it remains to be seen how its new grain policy will affect its 17-year-old bid to join. But other grain exporters, such as Ukraine, which is also considering export curbs, are part of the global trade referee.
WTO rules are quite clear that members cannot interfere with imports and exports in a way that disrupts trade or discriminates against other members. But in practice most WTO rules aim to stop countries blocking imports – shutting out competitor’s goods to give their own domestic producers an unfair advantage.
A New York city agency denied "landmark" status for an old building near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, clearing the way for the building to be torn down to make room for a Muslim cultural center which has spurred heated debate.
The City Landmarks Commission decision on Tuesday allows for the demolition of a building near where the World Trade Center's Twin Towers stood and paves the way for construction of the Cordoba House, set to include a prayer room and a 500-seat auditorium as part of a 13-story cultural complex.
(Photo: Protesters stomp on cow’s head, 28 Aug 2009/Samsul Said)
A Malaysian court has sentenced a Muslim to a week in jail and fined 11 others for a brandishing a cow's head during a protest against the construction of a Hindu temple.
Critics said the light sentences on Tuesday may further strain race relations between Muslims, who make up the majority of the country's 28 million population, and minority Hindus and Christians who complain of discrimination.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, I saw some Reuters photos of street vendors in San Salvador, having a protest. There were THOUSANDS of them. How can there be so many street vendors in one city?
That's easy. There are no indoor shops there. Everything is sold on the streets by vendors.