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So the question begs, why Sakineh? What was so special about her case that allowed her to become this recognized icon when so many Iranians, particularly women, are so badly abused and neglected on a daily basis in Iran? There are currently 35 Iranians on death row awaiting death by stoning, yet Sakineh became the fighting symbol for women’s rights and against the barbaric practice of stoning.
Paradoxically, when the regime sought to make an example of Sakineh to Iranians, warning them that they too would be punished severely by Sharia law if they transgress Islamic law, they did not expect this case to become an example, albeit for different reasons, in the international community as well. Once her case erupted all over the world and Internet, Iran’s government regretted letting the case go public. They began to lash out at her family, and her son in particular, for publicizing his mother’s case and getting help from human rights activists to spread ‘propaganda’ about her story. Most recently, her attorney, Mohammad Mostafaei, has been reported missing after he spent hours interrogated by officials. His wife and brother-in-law were arrested, and the regime has said that they will not be released until Mostafaei is in custody.
The Iranian human rights case has not been on the international agenda since the outbreak of the June elections in 2009. Since then, Iran’s imminent nuclear weapon development hand in hand with the government’s rogue and dismissive stance toward sanctions and IAEA policies has taken the spotlight.
The world has forgotten about the people of Iran. In a country where almost 400 people were executed in one year and a woman can be viciously stoned to death for allegedly cheating on her husband, the regime is rewarded with a seat on the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. A country where Sharia law dictates that a woman is worth half that of a man, and a non-Muslim is one quarter of a Muslim, the regime is elected to lead an international commission on the status of women, discussing how women should be viewed and treated.
Aside from cases such as Sakineh’s, it seems as though the international community will continue to forget the poor and unacceptable human rights violations in Iran. The big political powers will continue attempting to stop an unstoppable and unreasonable regime from developing nuclear weapons while at the same time abandoning and overlooking our biggest ally, the people of Iran.
It is the year 2010 and Iran allows its men to have four legal wives and up to 99 temporary wives. It continues the practice of stoning, despite a moratorium issued in 2002, because it says stoning causes unbearable pain but not enough to kill the individual right away. It bans pop music, dancing and Western clothing, claiming they are various forms of devil worship.
It is time for the international community to see the human rights emergency in Iran. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for each Sakineh to make her case. Instead of letting the regime play out the clock while simultaneously intensifying the tensions between Iran and the Western allies, we can help the people of Iran against their aggressor and ours, while gaining a friend in the process.
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