“No greater grief than to remember days of joy, when misery is at hand.” Inferno, Dante Alighieri, Illustration by Gustave Doré, Paris, 1861.
Stoning and Eye-for-an-Eye
Frightened and pale, Nassim, a friend from Tabriz, couldn’t find his words: “You … you heard it? The hezbollahis have stoned a woman in Kermanshah?”
That was in 1979, when there was no end to the waves of executions. The pervert ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali was the Islamic prosecutor. Where he went a trail of blood, tears, and injustice was left behind.
We were awestruck by what Nassim had to say. How could it be? We thought we were civilised … were we not? Since, the list of those stoned in Iran has grown. In 1990, Freidoune Sahebjam published “La Femme Lapidée”. An unbearable story …
In 2015, the public is shocked by barbarians such as “Jihadi John” of Daesh but S. Khalkhali and his gang of executioners paved the way for them: terrorising in the name of Sharia, in the name of Mohammad, in the name of Allah.
On no account, ever, is a beast capable of committing an act so horrendous as stoning. It is the most cruel method that the human being has invented to kill his fellow creatures. The one who justifies stoning is most loathsome.
In Iran, we hate to talk about it, a case of the elephant in the room; we utter a few furtive words; we shrug it off and discuss some other topic. We are ashamed and we do not want to know. The issue is unsettling because at the end one has to admit that those who throw stones are ordinary people like you and me.
In 2015, stoning is in the Iranian criminal code. Any woman can be stoned whenever an Islamic judge decides. The Iranian president, H. Rouhani, his minister of foreign affairs, M. J. Zarif, to name two known figures of Iranian regime on the international scene and in nuclear negotiations, are part of a system that has enforced stoning.
There is no end to barbarism. Last Friday, I learned:“A man’s eye has been gouged out in Iran in a literal application of the country’s “eye for an eye” interpretation of Sharia law.”
Iran claims to have entered into the 21st century with nuclear technology implemented on a large scale. But it keeps the practices of the dark ages reinforced by the means of digital technology. “An eye for an eye”, the retaliation … The sickening feeling of shame grows inside me. It was sown in 1979 and has not left me since.
I needed to know more. As always, the Iranian news outlets were silent. My correspondent in Iran did not know anything about it. The acquaintances from the Iranian diaspora in Europe would not discuss it: “So what? I have to organise the New Year’s party …”
I should have known better.
In the West, it was a not a major piece of news. The horrors of Daesh have an anaesthetic effect on the mainstream media. Which outlet would make a headline of the law of retaliation when the Daesh gang are destroying villages, both the people and their history, in Nineveh?
Amnesty International declared: “The fact that in the weeks leading to their session before the UN Human Rights Council the Iranian authorities have scheduled the execution of child offender Saman Naseem, carried out the execution of six Sunni men after grossly unfair trials, transferred an ailing prisoner of conscience Atena Farghadani to solitary confinement, and now carried out this macabre punishment – speaks volumes about the hollowness of Iran’s rhetoric on reform and human rights.”
My mind lingers on something else. On the hollowness of our rhetoric about Iran in general, our love of conspiracy theories, and our lake of vision; on our sense of apathy, our indifference. Since 1979, Nassim and many thousands of others have been killed by the Iranian Islamic lawmakers. They will not be remembered. F. Sahebjam died in 2008. Only a handful of Iranians in the West remember him. He was never published in Iran.
The Iranian New Year 1394 is round the corner. It will start on March 21, 2015. The Chinese industry and exporters have made sure that all things needed for the festivities of Iranian Now Rooz will be available to consumers in Iran. We are unable to produce them. But then of course, we are focused on the nuclear facilities, and spending our meager resources on military development, while destroying the environment, the economy, and the future of the next generations.
Over the decades, we have seen it all but we have learned nothing. We have become narrow minded, full of hatred, empty of compassion, as the ayatollahs wanted us to be. As long as these rascals throw us pieces of bread and a few liters of petrol, we will bow to them and kiss their asses. As long as the pathetic Iranian diaspora can spend a week’s holiday in Tehran and return safely to the West, they will support the ayatollahs and bury their heads in the sand.
For 1394, I’ll receive postcards with a bygone piece of poetry, and a wish: “Happy New Year”.
There is no happiness in being a slave to the ayatollahs and the Islamic dogmas. There is no civilisation when stoning and retaliation are the laws of the land. We are living in times of assassins, in the century of fanatics, death and destruction. There are no happy new years since the forces of evil and fear are dancing in the Middle East.