Monday, August 23, 2004

Following the Rules

A 16 year old girl was publicly executed last week in the town of Neka, in northern Iran. Atefeh Sahaleh's (or Atefe Rajabi in some stories) crime was allegedly "engaging in acts incompatible with chastity.” This was first thought to mean that she had been a rape victim, but later opinions are that she had been having pre-marital sex. She also seems to have gone out of her way to piss off the judge, which is rarely, if ever, a good idea in general. The judge was so incensed that he personally walked the case through the Iranian Supreme Court for approval, and then literally placed the noose around her neck himself. Although Iranian law requires the presence of a defense counsel, the girl was denied a lawyer. Her father begged to have an attorney for her, but got no response. FWIW, her "companion" was only sentenced to 100 lashes.

The point here isn't the specific "crime" she was charged with. We could argue endlessly about "enlightened" western views vs. traditionalist religious ones. Rather, the main issue is the government's failure to abide by it's own rules. That and the lack of review, especially given the judge's personal bias after the plaintiff made him furious.


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