Maryam Majd, an Iranian photojournalist, has disappeared on her way from Tehran, Iran, to Dusseldorf in Germany, according to Petra Landers, a former national football player. In a letter to the German Foreign Office, Landers who met Maryam Majd earlier this year during a trip to Iran, explains what happened: "When I wanted to pick her up at 10:30 am on the 17th of June 2011 from Düsseldorf airport, I realized that she was not on the plane. (Mahan Airlines confirmed that Ms. Majd was not on board). By phone she was no longer reachable because the phone was switched off. Since that day nobody in Iran or in Germany has heard from Maryam Majd." This is Majd's blog (in Persian)
This is one of those cases where the authorities seem to be blaming the victim for the crime of the perpetrators. Almost 3 weeks ago, a private party in Khomeini Shahr, in Central Iran was attacked by gang members. The gang put all the men in a room, locked them in, and then raped the 12 female attendees in the party. The story quickly became a national scandal and now the authorities say they have set up a "special court" and a "police task force" to expedite the trial of 14 men who are arrested in relation to this heinous crime.
Hussein Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Musawa Khomeini, called for the annulment of stoning. From his house in Qom, Khomieni told Al Arabiya that according to moderate scholars, the person who has the authority to impose such penalties should be someone as ‘inerrant’ as the Prophet, and this does not apply to anyone nowadays.
In this opinion/fatwa, Ayatollah Montazeri uses the terminology of shariah criminal law to reject the possibility of the application of the stoning sentences in contemporary societies of Muslim majority countries such as Iran. [in Persian]
For an informative English article on Montazeri’s influence, see here.
This is one of the most pivotal studies on violence against women in Iran, a subject for which there are few researches and statistics. A Study of Violence Against Women in Iran includes six chapters, beginning in chapter one with the question: “Why is challenging violence against women an urgent matter?” Chapter 2 addresses the various domains where violence against women is perpetrated (public and private). In Chapter 3, Kar addresses the roots of violence against women, touching upon the legal system, the cultural make up of Iranian society, and the courts.
Kar, who has worked extensively as an anti-stoning activist, details the history of women’s struggles to remove stoning from the law. She explains that even though laws cannot be incongruent with religious doctrine, shortly after the revolution many religious scholars began to write opinions on the basis of “Ijtihad” (a practice of religious jurisprudence referring to independent reasoning) to attempt to convince the anti-reform power centers, that it is possible to reform Islamic law without inflicting any harm to religious doctrine.
The secretary general of Iran’s HumanRights Committee, Dr. Mohammad Javad Larijani, stated that the “West” had had an extensive propaganda campaign against Iran on human rights issues, most of which are caused by political incentives. With regards to stoning, he adds that “stoning is neither torture nor an incongruous punishment.” He stated that practically, stoning is no longer fulfilled in Iran and that the recent case in Takistan (in 2007) was caused by a personal mistake of the judge.
Notable in this article is the mention of President Mohhamad Khatami pushing for a change in the execution law banning stoning in 2003. Also, the eleven women members of parliament submitted a bill in early December 2002 to the 290-seat majlis to abolish the practice of death by stoning to punish adultery. This was widely interpreted as a result of pressure by the European Union.