Monday, September 6, 2010

99 Lashes

Sakineh Mohammad Ashtiani, a 43 year old Iranian woman, was originally sentenced to be stoned to death for the crime of adultery. After an international outcry her case was "reviewed".

According to her son, Sakineh was informed last Saturday, August 28, that she would be hanged at dawn the following morning, but the sentence was not carried out.

Now reports are circulating that Sakineh will be subjected to 99 lashes, or even that this has already happened (AP, UPI, Daily Mail, The Australian, BBC). Incredibly, this sentence is in addition to the death sentence still hanging over her head, and in addition to 99 lashes that she has already received!

It should be remembered that the Islamic Republic of Iran came into existence in 1979 as the result of a massive popular uprising. The central figure of that uprising was the Ayatollah Khomeini who made no secret of his extreme, fundamentalist views.

Khomeini published a book in 1970 titled Velayat-e faqih (Persian: ولایت فقیه, velāyat-e faqīh), which translates as "Government of the Just". It was a blueprint for an Islamic "Republic" in which adherence to Sharia is guaranteed by Islamic "jurists" (faqih, plural fuqaha). The form of government now in place in Iran, in which all matters of government and law are subject to approval by the Guardian Council composed of fuqaha is a straightforward implementation of Khomeini's ideas (see Article Four of the Iranian Constitution, and also other relevant portions of the Constitution dealing with The Leader and the Guardian Council).

Even before writing Velayat-e faqih Khomeini was already one of the most well known and revered Shia clerics in the world. When Iranians rose up by the millions in 1978-79, they knew who Khomeini was and what his ideas were. The Iranian revolution is all the evidence we need (although it is hardly all we have) that the so-called "extremists" have never been, and are not now, a tiny isolated minority, but rather enjoy widespread, active, informed and enthusiastic support among a very significant portion of Muslims throughout the world.


Tony said...


Before the sixties Iran used to be one of the most secular Islamic countries in the world. The Islamists began to rise since the fifties and became a majority in the early seventies. However, the revolution of the 1979 wasn't Khomeiny's work alone, it was done by a coalition of opposition parties that included Liberals, Nationalists and the Iranian Communist party "Todah".
Khomeiny announced at the dawn of the revolution that its purpose is a social democratic regime similar to the western European model, this is how he got the support of the Liberals and the communists who were resourceful and highly organized. The first government after the revolution included all the coalition parties. But then after only six month, Khomeiny re-organized his Islamic party and established his Theocratic dictatorship by force, militias and field Islamic tribunes took care of executing tens of thousands in the streets including his former allies (He executed more than 2000 officer in the army in a couple of months, and the Islamic tribunes established in every corner had the capacity to execute anyone).

Islamists don't need a majority to establish their rule because they can impose it by force, by deception or by election, and they definitely don't have a problem with making an alliance with their bitter enemies to achieve their goals because they can always get rid of them afterwards.

However, Islamic countries aren't a monolith, there are millions who aren't even Muslim (mostly religious and ethnic minorities) and there are thousands who are just like Iyan Hirsi Ali and others, but for some reason all of those are invisible to western governments.

For example, in Iran today there's a strong Iranian opposition abroad and even inside, and most of their leaders openly say that they don't want anything to do with Islam, but unfortunately Western governments prefer to shake hands with Ahmadi-Najad and suck up to the Mullahs than to listen to the opposition.

Sorry for the long comment! :)

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Thanks for the very thoughtful comment! I was a very active leftist myself back in '79, so I remember well the role of leftists in the Iranian revolution.

Khomeini's dissembling about the short-lived inclusiveness of the post-revolutionary regime looks like an excellent example of taqiyya. At the same time, however, in the end he ended doing exactly what he had openly written about previously.

Once the repression of the left in Iran got fully underway there was a major debate in the left about whether or not to support the leftist mujahadeen who were now waging armed struggle against the Islamic Republic or to support the "anti-imperialist" regime of the Islamists.

Anonymous said...

And they say(liberals, pagans promoting interfaith dialogue)that we should be tolerant of this religion. Does that mean I cannot be outraged by the torture and impending murder of a woman by a so-called peaceful religion? One would truly have to be insane or really hate women to so self-deceived.

Anonymous said...

"to be so deceived" Sorry about the lost verb. Very outraged I guess.