MPAC Condemns Death Sentence Against Iranian Woman, Calls for Her Immediate Release

July 6, 2010

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) today condemned the Iranian government's decision to execute Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a mother of two, for allegedly committing adultery.

SEE: Human Rights Activist Tries to Stop Death by Stoning for Iranian Woman (CNN)

Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 after supposedly confessing to the crime. One of her lawyers, Mohammad Mostafaei, said she only confessed after being tortured by receiving 99 lashes. She later retracted that confession and has denied wrongdoing. Article 74 of the Iranian penal code requires at least four witnesses for an adulterer to receive a stoning sentence, but there were no witnesses in Ashtiani's case. Her conviction was based not on evidence but on the determination of three out of five judges.

"This a clear travesty of justice that turns Islamic values of due process and basic standards of human decency completely on its head," said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. "We are calling on the Iranian government to commute her sentence and release her immediately."

MPAC has endorsed the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which seeks to support international programs combating physical, sexual and other forms of abuse against women. The bill will help support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, prevent violence, increase U.S. diplomatic attention to decreasing violence against women, and incorporate best practices into U.S. foreign assistance.

Sadly, the Ashtiani case fits into a larger trend of incidents where adultery laws have been implemented in a fundamentally unjust manner that disproportionately targets women. A recent MPAC policy paper entitled "Abusing Women, Abusing Islam: Re-Examining Sharia Court Rulings in Contemporary Times" highlights how such laws misuse core Islamic precepts to permit government-sanctioned violence against women.



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