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.