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How To 'engage' British Muslims?

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Radical Islam: ministers get the message

 

Martin Bright

 

Published 09 April 2007

 

 

Martin Bright on how we are slowly discovering the way to engage with Muslim groups plus Ruth Kelly on a British version of Islam

 

Attitudes about how to deal with radical Islam are now shifting so quickly within Whitehall that it is hard to keep up.

 

The detailed announcement from Ruth Kelly, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, on how she will spend £5m on grass-roots hearts and minds projects is a genuine break with the recent past, when ministers preferred to fund self-appointed national representatives of Islam such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) rather than those working on the ground with young people. A new focus on schools, local civic leadership and the establishment of "forums on extremism" in areas of tension such as Preston in the north, Dudley in the Midlands and Redbridge in east London shows that Kelly's department is grappling with a different approach.

 

The shift has been deemed necessary because the old approach patently failed. If the events of 7 July 2005 were not enough to persuade the British public of the real threat of home-grown Islamic radicalism, subsequent trials have dem onstrated that we are no longer dealing with an imported phenomenon. The conviction of Dhiren Barot, a British Hindu convert to Islam, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder last November, marked a new high-water mark for the authorities in terms of terrorist convictions. Barot, also known as Abu Musa al-Hindi and Issa al-Britani, was named as a key al-Qaeda operative by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 atrocities. Barot admitted to having planned attacks on the New York Stock Exchange, the World Bank and the IMF from Britain, where he grew up after moving here as a child from Kenya. Recent research which revealed that young Muslims are more likely than their parents to show support for sharia law has fuelled concern about the growing attraction of radical Islam among young British Muslims.

 

I was recently invited to address an international conference in Berlin on Islam and integration, and I began my presentation by saying that British government thinking had changed so much in the past six months that my paper had to be considered as a work in progress. The title of my session at the conference was "Framing Values: government engagement with Muslim communities". It sounded like the title of a dull PhD, but actually provides the basis of a crucial analysis of the British government's approach. For too long, the government has addressed the second half of the proposition (engagement) without taking account of the first (a set of common values which all parties bring to the table). The conference, organised by the US Migration Policy Institute, the German Bertelsmann Foundation and the British-based Club of Three, part of the Weidenfeld Institute for Strategic Dialogue, was dominated by discussions about what might constitute these common and potentially conflicting values. (Should they be blanket values such as tolerance, respect, security and freedom, or something more specific such as tolerance of difference, respect for the rule of law, security from extremist violence, freedom from arbitrary arrest?) Delegates, who included representatives from several European governments, the US state department and the grand mufti of Bosnia-Hercegovina, agreed that the west was still finding it difficult to define its values, let alone assert them in the face of the growing attraction of radicalisation.

 

In July of last year, I wrote a controversial pamphlet published by the think-tank Policy Exchange in which I exposed the extent to which the British government and the Foreign Office in particular had made a compact with radical Islam. In the Middle East, this constituted a dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, which works towards an Islamic state through the democratic process; at home this was largely expressed by the Labour government's long-standing relationship with the Muslim Council of Britain. Leaked Foreign Office documents showed that officials and ministers had adopted a policy of what one diplomat described as "engagement for its own sake" with ostensibly mod erate Islamist groups in an attempt to counter the influence of more extreme organisations. This policy had also been allowed to seep into domestic policy, over which the Foreign Office had, until recently, an extraordinary degree of influence. Using a series of articles in this magazine and a documentary on Channel 4, I argued for a change in policy to broaden the scope of the dialogue.

 

The influence of Ruth Kelly has been hugely significant in this respect. I was initially sceptical that her new department would have the clout to take over responsibility for community cohesion and integration or that she would have the political will to take on the established Muslim organisations. But, from the outset, she made it plain that it was important to frame a set of values before embarking on the process of engagement. She refused to engage with the Muslim Council of Britain, for example, while its leaders continued to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day. She has since said that no organisation will rec eive money from her department until they make explicit their opposition to extremism. Engagement is now contingent on signing up to a shared set of British values.

 

So far so good, but the problem is that such values are as yet ill- defined. Gordon Brown has attempted to promote the rediscovery of Britishness as part of his guiding philosophy. But even that is barely sketched out and seems, at present, to consist of a deep respect for the liberal economic model that is yoked to a belief in the old-fashioned (and somewhat imperialistic) notion of the British gentleman.

 

One possible course is outlined in research commissioned by the government's Preventing Extremism Unit from Tufyal Choudhury at Durham University, who was also present at the Berlin conference. Choudhury argues that many young Muslims are suffering an identity crisis which leaves them vulnerable to radical Islam. They feel alienated from British institutions and blocked in terms of social mobility. The most vulnerable are those exploring their own religion for the first time. Choudhury argues that a European or British version of Islam could be developed as a response to extremism.

 

Unfortunately, the Labour Party has been having some difficulty with its own shared values in recent years and may have shed too many of its old left-liberal attitudes to allow for genuine assertion of its core beliefs. Traditionally, Britain has always been tolerant of foreign ideologies in its midst, as political exiles from Voltaire to Marx discovered. It has been criticised by many in Europe for sheltering Islamists from the Middle East, and in particular Algeria, since the early 1990s. But it is not contradictory to say that it is possible to oppose the totalitarianism of the Islamic extreme right, while refusing to shed the civil liberties that give representatives of the same ideology protection from arbitrary arrest.

 

Only by robustly upholding the human rights of every individual will we be able credibly to oppose those who would present the seductive totalitarian alternative of a collective set of values based on a literalist interpretation of Islam.

 

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-----------------------------------

 

so as this is an Islamic forum, i feel there should be some opinions upon how britain can 'engage' its muslim minority population in the political sphere?

 

BTW, this is what i wrote as reply to the article, and comments upon this would also be appreciated:

 

IMHO the main obstacle to framing 'British values', as the comment above refers to, is that there is for every value claimed an immediate problem that our 'Leaders' have acted in the opposite manner.

 

What is required is a Citizens Forum, a national on-line forum where all members of society can take part in discussions to define the values of our current and future society, where Britons who are christian, athiest, muslim, jedi, buddhist, taoist, animist, conservative, liberal, radical, determinist, 'free-willist', ignorant, educated, stupid, clever, black, white, yellow, tanned, pale, - aye, even chavs can take part if they wish.

 

Because this is how a democratic society is defined, not by elites whether political, economic or intellectual, but by the very people themselves.

 

It will always be an on-going debate, but it will also give a broad outline of where Britons are placing themselves, what values are common and what rejected, and if properly set-up and run will be a forum where extremists, be they of National Front, Islamist, Industrialist War-Mongers, Social-Darwinists or animal rights groups can have their voices heard.

 

If indeed 'democracy' IS a 'British Value', then such a forum is the way to go. If we are lucky, and the Education Dept has watched this video:

 

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and has the intelligence to follow our North European neighbours in adopting it widely, then such a UKForum would be the inevitable next step for a still evolving democratic society to take.

 

 

Yes we have to engage with extremist, or potentially extremist Islamic groups within Britain, but why do not British racists also need engaging, or indeed the common people?

 

This is a debate that is held in too narrow terms.

 

 

Oh, and for the record, my personal values are encapsulated in Iain M Banks 'Culture' novels, especially the definition of the 'Culture' in 'Player of Games'.

 

 

Perhaps, in a few years or deacdes time, the Universalist values that are adopted will mean that the only specific 'British' values that we agree on, are the right to speak in a miriad of regional accents, to look down upon other people as being unfortunate not to be born British, and to dislike the French.

 

Surely these are the Natural Birthrights of every Briton. :sl:

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salaams peeps,

 

If the government was really serious why would they be heading this initiative with someone as incompetent as Ruth Kelly? She fell flat on her face as Education Minister.

 

I don't see why in a democracy you need to define values. People should be allowed to live how they like as long as they abide by the law.

 

peace

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salaams peeps,

I don't see why in a democracy you need to define values. People should be allowed to live how they like as long as they abide by the law.

 

Blowing up tube trains is against the law yet some Brits thought it was OK. More Brits supported them. Granted 'values' is a hackneyed way of talking about this, but there is SOME point of differentiation between a set of values which allows you to blow up a crowded bus and one which disapproves of that sort of behaviour.

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Blowing up tube trains is against the law yet some Brits thought it was OK. More Brits supported them. Granted 'values' is a hackneyed way of talking about this, but there is SOME point of differentiation between a set of values which allows you to blow up a crowded bus and one which disapproves of that sort of behaviour.
IMHO the main obstacle to framing 'British values', as the comment above refers to, is that there is for every value claimed an immediate problem that our 'Leaders' have acted in the opposite manner.

 

 

(you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetgawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showtopic=39547&hl="]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetgawaher(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/index.php?showtopic=39547&hl=[/url]

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That's too glib. If by 'leaders' you are referring to the current government, which members of the government support criminalising sexual behaviour between consenting adults? Which members of the government believe that everyone who doesn't dollow their religion is going to hell? Which members of the government support killing Salman Rushdie for something he wrote?

 

There are huge difference in values between hardline Muslims and liberals in ANY country, not just 'teh evul west'.

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perhaps frank should get off his high horse? The West is not evil, but its a simple fact that there are not very nice people, and many of our supposed 'Leaders' are such.

 

and there is also a huge difference between hardline christians and liberals in ANY country as well, stop trying to make out Islam is any different, because it doesnt wash.

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perhaps frank should get off his high horse? The West is not evil, but its a simple fact that there are not very nice people, and many of our supposed 'Leaders' are such.

 

The leaders of my country include unpleasant people, I agree. But none of them is working towards instituting a system whereby unchangeable religious law prevails. Maybe that's the prime value that my society has.

 

and there is also a huge difference between hardline christians and liberals in ANY country as well, stop trying to make out Islam is any different, because it doesnt wash.

 

I agree about the difference between hardliners and liberals, and it's how I used to scoff at people who were worried about Islam. But the more I learn about it the uneasier I become. It is NOT 'hardline' for a Muslim to agree that the punishment for apostacy is death, for example. In fact it's extremely common. There is, I know a liberal Muslim branch rising in the US. They seem to be on the right track and are to be encouraged. But they aren't popular (to put it mildly) with Muslims elsewhere.

Edited by Frank

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salaams peeps,

 

But none of them is working towards instituting a system whereby unchangeable religious law prevails.

 

If you are referring to Shari'ah law then you have been misinformed.

 

I don't know of any Muslims trying to implement apostasy laws, or any Shari'ah law in this country.

 

The point is there is no need to define 'common values'. Using suicide bombers as an example to highlight this apparent need is pointless. They were criminals. The values or beliefs they used are those of a criminal. If you use this logic then you have to include the thousands who commit benefit fraud, the increasing number of gangsters etc and include them in the plan to determine common values. Suicide bombers are criminals. There are many other criminals so why is there a need to define common values aimed at Muslims in particular?

 

peace

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salaams peeps,

If you are referring to Shari'ah law then you have been misinformed.

 

I don't know of any Muslims trying to implement apostasy laws, or any Shari'ah law in this country.

 

Anyone who is working toward the death penalty for apostacy or adultery in ANY country has warped values IMHO. HT and their ilk are working for this, and they are doing so in the UK.

Edited by Frank

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anyone who is working for a death penalty in ANY country for ANY crime has warped values. Whats your position on State Murder in the US?

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salaams peeps,

 

Anyone who is working toward the death penalty for apostacy or adultery in ANY country has warped values IMHO. HT and their ilk are working for this, and they are doing so in the UK.

 

Apostasy laws are being discussed in another thread so I won't get into that. From my understanding of Islam, (and I may be wrong) apostasy can only be punished by the state. And because we havn't had khalifa for so long, apostasy punishments will probably be reviewed when an Islamic state is re-established.

 

The shari'ah laws for adultury and any other crime is designed for the good of society. You may have a different opinion concerning punishments but its not for you to say they are 'warped values'.

 

The official HT stance is they are working for khalifa in the Muslim world via political activity in the UK. :sl: yea I know, a load of rubbish. But even if they are, why shouldn't they? If they do it legally through the poilitical process who are you, or Ruth Kelly to tell them they need to change their views to match the 'common values' that the government wants to set? The values of this country can speak for themselves. If the population want HT to implement shari'ah then they will get voted in, if they don't then HT will always be a fringe group as they are now. Again, I know followers of HT and none of them claim to be trying to implement shari'ah in this country.

 

peace

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Gnuneo, I'm against the death penalty for anything. However I'm not against murder being a criminal offence. I am against changing your mind about a religion or having sex with a consenting adult being a criinal offense. These are my values. They aren't Muslim values. There's a difference.

 

 

Josh, the rules on killing apostates can't "be reviewed", surely. The Koran stipulates it and that's the end of the matter. And defending laws against sex betwen consenting adults show that yes, there really is an important difference in values.

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salaams peeps,

 

Josh, the rules on killing apostates can't "be reviewed", surely. The Koran stipulates it and that's the end of the matter.
Yes they can. The Qur'an does not stipulate a one-size-fits-all ruling on apostates. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reacted differently with different apostates depending on the situation. Shari'ah is flexible enough to suit the needs of the time and place. We call this ijtihaad. I'm not a scholar so I can't say if apostasy laws would be changed or not but there is a possiility.

 

And defending laws against sex betwen consenting adults show that yes, there really is an important difference in values.

 

So what? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims are against sex outside marriage. Followers of these religions have a right to defend laws that they believe to be correct, as is anyone else. But if they want it implemented, then they have to win over the masses, which is unlikely. I think this is the general idea of democracy. Different beleifs amongst people should not cause a breakdown in a society.

 

peace

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salaams peeps,

 

So what? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims are against sex outside marriage. Followers of these religions have a right to defend laws that they believe to be correct, as is anyone else. But if they want it implemented, then they have to win over the masses, which is unlikely. I think this is the general idea of democracy. Different beleifs amongst people should not cause a breakdown in a society.

 

peace

Yeah but Christians Jews & Hindus wouldn't stone someone to death for doing it nowadays, it would be seen as something immoral and against the teachings of the religion. As Jesus said, "let he without sin...etc".

 

I must say I've found the defenses for some of the barbaric Islamic punishments quite amusing. Best one I think is that it's a favour to the offender so he can't sin more before he goes before God. It's murder, murder, murder, and from the footage I've seen it's carried out by a frenzied blood thirsty mob who should be working rather throwing rocks at someone buried up to their waist.

 

Islam is incompatible with democracy anyway, freedom of speech and all that.

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Also, a great many Christians and Jews (can't speak about Hindus) no longer regard sex outside marriage as a sin.

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salaams peeps,

 

Christians and Jews who follow their religion do still regard sex outside marriage as a sin.

 

Yeah but Christians Jews & Hindus wouldn't stone someone to death for doing it nowadays, it would be seen as something immoral and against the teachings of the religion. As Jesus said, "let he without sin...etc".
If they believe that the punishment is no longer applicable then thats up to them. Its a punishment presrcibed in the OT so it can't be against the teachings of the religion.

 

I must say I've found the defenses for some of the barbaric Islamic punishments quite amusing. Best one I think is that it's a favour to the offender so he can't sin more before he goes before God.

 

Islamic punishments are based on protecting the law abiding, civilised people. Some of the punishments are considered savage and brutal for the one being punished. People who abide by the law have nothing to fear. The criminal lives in fear. So if you want to use the term barbaric, then go ahead, but as long as they work it doesn't matter what you call it.

 

It's murder, murder, murder
Actually its justice, justice, justice.

 

Islam is incompatible with democracy anyway, freedom of speech and all that.

 

What is your definition of democracy? I've said it before, democracy means that people can live however they want as long as they abide by the law. This should include Muslim communities as well, shouldn't it?

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What is your definition of democracy? I've said it before, democracy means that people can live however they want as long as they abide by the law. This should include Muslim communities as well, shouldn't it?

 

Democracy is a method of electing governments. Other than that it is value-free.

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democracy is a state-of-mind where the citizens beleive and act as though they are equals, and 'leaders' are no mor than First Among Equals. This is not at all to be confused with representative democracy, which is what youre doing. Nor is democracy synonymous with Majority Rule, that is simply the dictatorship of the majority.

 

josh: there are many movements within iran even that are trying to stop these ridiculous and barbaric customs from the OT such as stonings, they are no part of True Islam, they are a relic from barbarous tribal customs, and have no place in the modern world, whether western or Islamic.

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salaams peeps,

 

they are no part of True Islam, they are a relic from barbarous tribal customs, and have no place in the modern world, whether western or Islamic.

 

We do not regard the laws of God as 'relics from barbarous tribal customs.' 'Modern world', 'civilised society', 'free world' are terms created by the west to show their superiority. An old law is not necassarily a bad law. The 'barbaric' punishments you think of have hard evidence in Qur'an and hadith. If these do not represent True Islam, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what is?

 

peace

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There you go, Gnuneo, that's the basic problem with Islam(ists). They are bound by a 1400-year-old tribal mindset, and to do anything to get of out it is literally blasphemy and punishable by death.

 

Some Muslims in the US do seem to be advancing, and their sites make hopeful reading (I'll hunt for one - I lost my bookmarks recently), but they are regarded as apostates by most.

Edited by Frank

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Peace Frank,

 

I beg to differ. Singapore has no less stringent laws in place regarding many aspects of behaviour and the people there by in large support the punishments meated out by the Government. If you're going to examine why people believe what they do you have to look beyond their ideology itself and at the causes for their convictions. It is my view that people regardless of culture or creed will all move towards similar objectives given the same environment. Those objectives centre around fairness, equality, universal representation etc.

 

When we examine the causes for trends changing through time on issues such as the death penalty you have to look at why it was outlawed in the EU and what events caused that. Namely there has to be a free press to report on the blunders of the judiciary who from time to time will execute innocent people. There must be a country with enough money to support a prison system which can sustain criminals behind bars. There must be a standard of education which allows people to understand the social and environmental factors which psychologically disturb people enough to commit acts of murder and suchlike. There must be a free political system whereby people can peacefully protest against laws such as the death penalty to bring the issue to the public attention. There must be a social consciousness of understanding the reasons why others behave in the way they do, this is best bred from a life of stability without constant worries over where the next meal is coming from, or who will be bombing the country next.

 

Though Muslim countries differ greatly in range, few of these countries have these forces at work in anything like the capacity required for the majority people in them to reach the same conclusions as those in the West. What one should examine then is, 'why?' The answer is of course that Muslim countries in general have not got happy histories. They were run into the dirt by the Turkish Ottoman Empire which basically milked them for cash. When that collapsed they were taken over by the British and French, and were subsequently milked for cash. Following that most were overtaken by dictators and their families, who (you guessed it) have been milking them for cash. They have few political freedoms, practically no meaningful representation, a heavily censored media and to top it off after centuries of having their wealth taken back to Istanbul/London/New York are now not in a good position to create the kind of socially inclusive policies which those in other countries can enjoy.

 

I'm not a big fan of the idea of free will. I'll go further, free will is up there with the flying pigs in my estimation. For that reason I do not believe that somebody who is outright 'for' the death penalty can suddenly change their mind to become a tree hugging lefty. They need to have a reason to change their minds, and neither internet forums nor the weight of an argument you may feel is likely to do so. It is my view that somebody who has strongly engrained reasons for supporting the death penalty cannot be changed through weight of a single debate alone anymore than I have the ability to start believing that executing apostates is a great idea. Neither they nor I can change our minds and the fundamentally flawed notion of free will (in the common understanding) is responsible for spreading false hope to those who seek to try. (It is with a sense of irony I've noticed that through arguing with a Muslim/Communist/Christian/Social Democrat/Atheist etc one does not change their mind but most often will strengthen whatever belief was previously held unless there are really glaring and incontrovertable errors with their belief system.

 

In a manner of speaking, Western nations are more 'advanced' than the rest of the world solely because societies, nations and Government systems have had long enough periods of stability and economic success to develop with the above listed criteria for social development. In another sense though the term 'advanced' is the wrong word to use as it can imply being 'better'. Abolishing the death penalty, renouncing Islam, stopping the cruel and unusual punishments and embracing the technological revolution would not necesarrily be 'better' for Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia were the Government there to implement the changes. The people have to desire the change, only then should it be implemented. For the necesarry prerequisites for the people to desire these changes see the second paragraph. The major factors in my view are time and stability.

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Iran: Activists Call For End To Practice Of Stoning

By Golnaz Esfandiari

Germany -- Iranians hold a banner displaying the figure of a veiled woman with bars instead of a face over the word

Ethnic Iranians protesting against the stoning of women at a football match in Germany in June

(AFP)

PRAGUE, October 25, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Women's rights activists in Iran have called on the head of the country's conservative judiciary and the parliament to end the stoning to death of convicted adulterers. Under pressure from the European Union, Iran was said to have introduced a moratorium on stonings in 2002. But activists accuse judges of perpetuating the practice.

 

Reports suggest that two people were stoned to death in May and at least eight women currently face stoning sentences.

 

Under Islamic laws as applied in Iran, the punishment for adultery is stoning. It is widely considered to be among the cruelest of punishments. Women are buried up to their chests in a pit; men are buried up to their waists. And their hands are tied behind their backs.

 

Then, as lawyer Elham Fahimi explains, they are struck with rocks until they die.

Death by stoning is slow and painful. Islamic code prescribes that "the stone should not be so big as to kill the offender with one or two stones" and "nor should it be as small as pebbles."

 

 

"They put them in a hole and they wrap them in a kafan [a white sheet used for burial] -- this is how it should be done, according to the law," Fahimi says. "Then they call on those who have not committed any crimes to come and throw stones."

 

Death by stoning is slow and painful. Islamic code prescribes that "the stone should not be so big as to kill the offender with one or two stones" and "nor should it be as small as pebbles."

 

Still Happening

 

The latest case of a judicially ordered stoning was reportedly carried in early May in a cemetery in the holy city of Mashhad in eastern Iran.

 

A woman, identified as Mahboubeh M., and a man, identified as Abbas H., had been convicted of committing adultery and murdering the woman's husband. Activists say that before the two were stoned to death, they were treated like "lifeless corpses." They were given final ablutions and then buried in a hole in the ground. Reports claim that more than 100 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Basij paramilitary forces participated in the stoning.

 

The case alarmed and outraged women's rights activists. Their investigations suggested that judges in several cities have continued to condemn people to death by stoning, despite the reported moratorium.

 

Women's rights activist Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh tells RFE/RL that one of the reasons new stonings are being ordered is because the moratorium was not enshrined in law.

 

"Since under our laws, judges are independent, one reason [for continued stonings] might be that with the new government [of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad] coming to power and the change in the political atmosphere, judges who are in favor of such sentences have become more active," Abbasgholizadeh says. "Therefore, we think stoning should be banned by law -- otherwise judges can issue such sentences as they desire."

 

Silent Killings

 

Abbasgholizadeh says it is unclear how many stoning sentences have been issued and carried out in Iran since reports of the moratorium emerged four years ago.

 

A judge in Tehran hands down a verdict (undated Fars file photo)"Currently they don't carry out stoning in public. I don't know [why], maybe because of public opinion or international pressure," Abbasgholizadeh says. "Now it seems that they do it in the prison courtyards by prisoners or prison guards [casting the stones]. I even know...a political prisoner who was detained three or four years ago and had seen from his cell that they brought a woman and forced other female detainees to stone her."

 

The head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, has not reacted publicly to the activists' calls for an end to stonings.

 

Parliamentarian Elham Aminzadeh was quoted by Iranian media as saying after a trip to Brussels in mid-October that stoning sentences are no longer being handed down in Iran. She said EU officials had asked about the resumption of the practice. Aminzadeh said they had referred to an Amnesty International statement and an Internet list, which she described as invalid.

 

Abbasgholizadeh dismisses Aminzadeh's claim and says rights activists have carefully documented stoning cases.

 

"We don't speak without proof," Abbasgholizadeh says. "This lady speaks in a way that shows she's denying stoning and saying that the judiciary has replaced it with other sentences. This means she's saying stoning should not exist. Our point is that as long as [a ban] doesn't become law, judges can [issue stoning sentences] and are doing it. So this lady, who is a legislator and opposes it, should make the ban a legal one."

 

Pressure Continues

 

On October 10, Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan called on Iran to abolish stoning "immediately and totally."

 

Activists have published the names of nine women and two men whom they claim have been sentenced to death by stoning.

 

One of them is Shamameh Malek Ghorbani, who was reportedly sentenced to stoning in June after relatives found a man in her home. Amnesty International reported that her brothers and husband murdered the man and also stabbed Ghorbani with a knife.

 

Fahimi, who is serving as Ghorbani's lawyer, tells RFE/RL that the case is being reexamined by a higher court.

 

"She is in Orumyeh prison," Fahimi says. "Her crime is adultery, and she has been sentenced to stoning. I visited her while my colleague went to Qom to study her case, which is before the Qom supreme court. The sentence has most probably been overturned."

 

Reports suggest that the stoning sentence against another woman identified by Amnesty International, Ashraf Kalhori, has also been suspended.

 

But activists are determined to continue their efforts until the practice is rooted out of Iran.

 

Women's rights defenders say adultery cannot be considered as deserving of such harsh punishment. They are quick to add that "no crime deserves to be punished by stoning."

 

With officials largely silent on the issue except to deny that it occurs, it is unclear how many more Iranians might be stoned to death before authorities throughout the country are forced to agree.

 

(you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetrferl(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/featuresarticle/2006/10/0d4961f5-8599-44ba-ba07-3feaf2077a9e.html"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetrferl(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/featuresarticle/2006/...eaf2077a9e.html[/url]

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Eoin - thanks. I tend to agree about the conditions required for 'advanced' societies, and empirically you are probably correct in all you say. However technically you're being a bit circular in some of the poionts you make, I think. I'll think about it and reply later. I'm also not sure that the biggest stumbling block - of being locked into an ethical system with the death penalty (and Hell) for attempting to change it - has been addressed either.

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eoin: i would not agree entirely, although most major points we agree on.

 

my main disagreement is the idea that societies are unitary: they most certainly are not. At any time in every society there will be differing values, and although we tend to say "is" as in "the USA is democratic", or "iran is a theocracy", both are entirely misleading in reality. The USA has democratic elements, but ask any of the current majority anti-war population in the US about how much control they have over their leaders, and it becomes obvious that to say "the USA is a democracy" is not accurate. In the same way, iran (as the article i posted above shows) also has strong democratic elements, people are willing to stand up and say their opinion, are willing to organise, they are not sitting in their homes gazing worshipfully at a picture of the Ayatollah.

 

certainly, as conditions change then certain elements become stronger within society, and as you say periods of peace and development without external invasions, coups etc, can bring different results from a society than the opposite. But human experience is human experience, and largely the same basic drives motivates us all, and just as labelling an individual with only one specific 'narrative' or 'role', or 'set of values' is far too limiting to fully grasp them, so too it is the case with societies.

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Peace Gnuneo,

 

my main disagreement is the idea that societies are unitary: they most certainly are not. At any time in every society there will be differing values, and although we tend to say "is" as in "the USA is democratic", or "iran is a theocracy", both are entirely misleading in reality. The USA has democratic elements, but ask any of the current majority anti-war population in the US about how much control they have over their leaders, and it becomes obvious that to say "the USA is a democracy" is not accurate. In the same way, iran (as the article i posted above shows) also has strong democratic elements, people are willing to stand up and say their opinion, are willing to organise, they are not sitting in their homes gazing worshipfully at a picture of the Ayatollah.

 

Fear not I don't disagree with anything you say there, I'm just slightly confuzzled as to what I've said which would make you bring me up on it, could you be a bit more specific? (And/or critical? :sl: )

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