Monday, August 9, 2010

Woman Publicly Executed for Adultery

Since I have been The Curator of this blog, I have presented reports from countries and regions around the world grappling with sexual behavior and attitudes within their own cultures.

I have tried very hard to remain neutral and non-judgmental, convinced that each country and region is truly autonomous, and that practices that make sense to us, would not translate well in another country with vastly different cultural beliefs, and vice versa.

I also believe without reservation that in presenting the full range of human behavior within its cultural climate will work toward tearing down barriers that divide us, that beneath our cultures, countries, and religions we are at our core all the same; sharing the same emotions that motivate and sustain us.

So it is that I must take a very deep breath to control my personal outrage, fury and disgust at a report coming out of Afghanistan. An alleged instance of adultery has led to the brutal flogging then deliberate murder of the “scorned” woman.

I cannot wrap my mind around anything that..well...barbaric. For anyone to be publicly executed by their “peers” after committing any alleged sexual behavior is completely indefensible. This the 21st Century, not the 16th Century where religious fundamentalism trumped basic humanity – not here in the U.S., or anywhere else on the planet either, dammit!

This is not an opinion I hold as a Christian, because I am not Christian. This is not a view I hold because of any religious view, or the rejection of any religious view. This is an opinion I hold as a human being. As a human being, I lend my voice of solidarity to all peoples of any religion, or who embrace no religion, who live in all countries, including our own; people who are simply trying to live the lives of their own choosing. It is time for us all to reject the politics of fundamentalism, to join hands across each and ever divide. May PEOPLE reign!

Below are the sad details, and an unhappy update on a report I presented earlier in this blog:

HERAT, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents publicly flogged and executed an Afghan woman for alleged adultery, a police official said Monday, in a reminder of the era when the militant Islamist group ruled Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesman denied the group was behind the horrific incident.

The 48-year-old widow was tortured first by being given dozens of lashes before being shot dead Sunday in remote Qades, a district held by militants in northwestern Badghis province, said Abdul Jabar, a senior provincial officer.

"It happened before the public...despite that no one has complained, the government will take its own measures about the incident," Jabar told Reuters news agency by telephone from Badghis.

The unidentified man who had the alleged affair with the woman had escaped, he said.

The Taliban staged public stonings or lashings of Afghans found to have had sex outside marriage when in power from 1996 until 2001.

However Qari Mohammad Yousuf, the main Taliban media spokesman, said the group was not behind the Qades execution.

"This is a bad work and we reject it. Whoever has done is not a member of the Taliban and he is trying to defame us," Yousuf said by phone from an undisclosed location.

In similarly disturbing news:

[Above: Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei answers reporters' questions at a press conference in Oslo, Norway Sunday Aug. 8, 2010. Mostafaei has applied for political asylum in Norway after he was released from a detention center in Istanbul. Mostafaei fled Iran for Turkey after defending his client, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was convicted of cheating on her husband and sentenced to death by stoning in Iran. Tehran says it will not carry out the stoning against Ashtiani for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging.]

OSLO, Norway — The lawyer defending a woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran said on Sunday that he has applied for asylum in Norway, but hopes Iranian authorities will allow him eventually to return to his practice.

Mohammad Mostafaei told reporters he chose to flee to Norway after obtaining a one-year Norwegian travel visa. He also cited the Nordic country's prominent human rights profile.

The 31-year-old said he fled to Turkey last week after learning Iranian officials intended to arrest him. He flew to Norway Saturday after being detained briefly in Turkey over an undisclosed passport issue.

Mostafaei maintained a blog that sparked a worldwide campaign to free his client, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging for her conviction of adultery and other offenses.

[Above: Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.]

While Mostafaei is applying for asylum, it's unclear whether he will stay in Norway. He said he hopes international pressure will force Tehran to let him return to his practice.

"My greatest hope is that I can go back and continue my work in Iran. If the Iranian authorities will ensure my rights and safety, I'll go back," Mostafaei said through an interpreter. "Right now, I've lost the ability to work on the behalf of my clients. That means I've lost everything. Without that, it doesn't matter whether I'm in heaven or hell."

Late last month, Mostafaei — an outspoken lawyer who also has defended many juvenile offenders and political prisoners — was summoned for questioning by judicial officials at Tehran's Evin prison, released after several hours, then asked to return, which he failed to do. The same day, his wife, Fereshteh Halimi, and her brother, Farhad Halimi, were detained in a possible attempt to pressure Mostafaei to surrender if he wasn't already detained.

— The Curator