Why Iran suspended woman's stoning sentence
Iran suspended the stoning sentence for a woman convicted of adultery amid mounting international pressure, including the European Parliament's 658-1 resolution against such punishment.
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Pressure has been growing on Iran on a number of levels. Besides the Ashtiani stoning case, Iran’s controversial nuclear program led to the imposition of a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions last June. Washington and the EU have followed with yet tougher measures, which can punish Iran’s trading partners.Skip to next paragraph
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On Wednesday, South Korea announced that it, too, would put a “heavy penalty” on the Seoul branch of Bank Mellat, which is listed in UN sanctions documents as facilitating large transactions for Iran’s nuclear, missile, and defense programs. Another 102 Iranian entities in South Korea would also be affected, all transactions with Iran to be scrutinized, and new investment in Iran’s energy sector restricted.
Even Fidel Castro – a fellow revolutionary whose anti-American and anti-imperial views should make him an ally of Iran – recently cautioned President Ahmadinejad against rhetoric that could lead to war with the West, expressing regret over his own actions in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that nearly led to nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.
Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday that Iran would overcome the obstacles.
“The enemies of the nation seek to frustrate the people with economic pressures so the people blame the government for them and ties are cut between the government and the people,” state media quoted Ayatollah Khamenei as saying, according to a translation by Agence France-Presse.
“But the nation and officials will undoubtedly circumvent the sanctions and render them ineffective just as [they have] in the past three decades,” Khamenei said in a speech.
Top newspaper editor raised the stakes with Bruni lashing
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mehmanparast blamed the US for raising the temperature over the stoning case. His comments echoed steady accusations from Tehran’s arch-conservative leaders that the US, Britain, and Israel were behind the violent protests last summer in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection, which opposition leaders – and many Iranians – say was rigged.
“It looks like they are playing a political game,” said Mehmanparast.
But it was the chief of the hard-line Kayhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari – the most powerful newspaper editor in Iran, and a representative of Khamenei – who turned the stoning sentence into a European cause.
After Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy signed a petition with other celebrities calling for Ashtiani’s release, saying, “Everything within me refuses to accept this [sentence],” Kayhan called her an “Italian prostitute” who “has had illegitimate relationships with different people before and after marrying [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy.”
“Reviewing Carla Bruni’s records clearly shows why this immoral woman has supported an Iranian woman who has committed adultery, contributed to the murdering of her husband, and has been sentenced to death, and in fact she herself [Bruni] deserves death,” Kayhan continued, in a translation by AFP.
“They make these wild, wild inflammatory statements from time to time, and that is consistent and not new, when they lash out against a certain individual who may have been more vocal in the West,” says Ehteshami. “The concept is obviously case-relevant here.”