by Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh
Death sentences, executions, floggings and amputations mark the bitter reality in Iran 30 years on from the Islamic Revolution. The Bahai are particularly threatened by the prevailing law.
Mehrangiz Kar worked for 22 years as a lawyer in the Islamic “Republic” of Iran before she emigrated to the United States. In an analysis of the Iranian criminal code, Kar came to the conclusion that, 30 years after the Islamic Revolution, brute violence against men, women, children, Muslims and non-Muslims has assumed a legitimate form and become legally entrenched. The following text is based on the Persian version of Mehrangiz Kar’s analysis, which appeared in Roozonline on 11 February 2009. In conclusion, the worrying position of the Bahai is discussed.
Under article 90 of the criminal code, a man or woman will be executed if he or she is repeatedly unfaithful. Under article 95, even the mentally ill can be executed for this offence. The code stresses that Islamic law cannot be enforced in countries that oppose Islam. On the other hand, article 7 emphasises that Iranians who commit acts of this type abroad can be condemned in Iran if they are arrested in Iran. Therefore, exiled Iranians and Europeans who have sexual relations with Iranian women are not automatically protected from Islamic law, at least not if they go to Iran. Under article 179, a man or woman will be executed if he or she has been repeatedly caught and flogged for consuming alcoholic beverages and then continues to consume alcohol. Execution takes place when it is proven that alcohol has been consumed four times. Under article 180, the mentally ill can also be executed if they have repeatedly drunk alcohol. Under article 157, illegal sexual acts are punished by flogging after the third occasion, followed by the death sentence in case of a fourth occasion. Article 82 is particularly discriminatory against non-Muslims. If a non-Muslim has illegal sex with a Muslim woman, the non-Muslim is executed directly after the first occasion. This means that, under Iranian law, a European who has extramarital sex with an Iranian woman in Europe can be executed in Iran if he is caught there. This is because such acts are regarded as rape of the Muslim woman. The same article 82 lays down the death penalty as the general punishment for rape. Under article 111, two homosexuals who are of fullage and in their right mind will be executed if they are clearly in a sexual relationship. Under article 112, an adult male who has sex with an underage boy will be executed. If the underage boy consented voluntarily, he is punished with 74 lashes. Under article 122, if two men had non-penetrative sex three times and were flogged three times, they will be executed on the fourth occasion. Under article 131, if two lesbians have already been flogged three times on account of sexual relations, they will be executed on the fourth occasion. While under Islamic law the death penalty is provided for a murderer, as is the case in Iran, a murderer is nonetheless not always executed, because of the possibility of compensation laid down in the blood law.
Only a Muslim man is regarded as a complete human being
Blood law is the law of ius sanguinis, which establishes inequality among people. Blood laws are particularly discriminatory against non-Muslims and women. Only a Muslim man is regarded as a complete human being, commanding the highest blood price. A Muslim woman is half as much as a Muslim man. According to Mrs Kar, the Iranian jurist, a Muslim is never condemned to death if he kills a non-Muslim. If a male Muslim kills a female Muslim, he is not sentenced to death. But if the family members of the murdered woman pay half of the murderer’s blood price to the murderer, the murderer can be punished.This means that the victim’s family members have the further indignity of having to pay money if the murderer is to be prosecuted at all. If a man kills his child or grandchild, he is never sentenced to death. This is because children are the father’s property under Islamic law. Under article 220, the father can at most be sentenced to pay blood money for the child. If a man merely suspects that his wife has committed adultery and kills her, he is never executed. Islamic law protects the murderer, who does not have to prove his suspicions and can continue living unpunished. On the slightest suspicion, the man can kill his wife and her alleged lover and walk away unpunished. Under paragraph 630, the murderer will not even be questioned. The lawyer Mehrangiz Kar writes that murderers who give the appearance of devoutness, of “protecting Islamic values”, are not executed for their deeds. The court can refrain from a conviction if the victim is regarded as mahdur al-dam, someone whose blood is worthless. Kar cites the example of the chain murders of intellectuals committed in the 1990s. Those responsible were not prosecuted, since the intellectuals were said to have put forward anti-Islamic arguments. Mrs Kar also cites the example of the Bahai, whose blood has no value, at least not in the Islamic “Republic” of Iran. Kar writes that, in her entire 22 years as a lawyer in the Islamic “Republic”, she has no recollection of anyone ever being executed for killing a Bahai. Nor does she recall the murderer of a Christian or Jew ever receiving the death penalty. Indeed, Iranian justice constantly stresses that if the murderer of a member of a recognised religious minority such as a Christian or Jew is killed by a non-Muslim, this non-Muslim deserves the death penalty, but a Muslim killer need not fear as much. Articles 226 and 295, which give Muslim judges leeway, provide protection for Muslim killers of non-Muslims. Under article 222, even a mentally ill person can be killed by a healthy Muslim.
Flogging is torture
Under article 84 of the Iranian criminal code, a married old man or married old woman who is unfaithful can be stoned. Before being stoned, they must receive 100 lashes. Under article 83, a married woman who has sex with an adolescent can be condemned to 100 lashes. Under article 88, an unmarried woman or unmarried man who has illegal sex is condemned to 100 lashes. Under article 174, anyone consuming alcohol is condemned to 80 lashes. Under article 121, two men who have non-penetrative sex will each be punished with 100 lashes. If the active man was a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim will be punished with death. Under article 123, two naked men discovered under a blanket will be punished with 99 lashes. Under article 129, two women who have sex will each receive 100 lashes.
Execution plus torture
If a married woman has a sexual relationship with her husband but is still unfaithful, she will be stoned. If she admits her offence, articles 83 and 99 state that a cleric must throw the first stone, followed by the crowd. If she does not admit her offence but witnesses confirm it, the crowd must throw the first stones at her, followed by the cleric. Under article 101, the judge must inform the people of the date of the stoning. Under article 102, a man will be buried up to his hips and a woman up to her breast before the stoning begins. A woman must not have any opportunity to flee. Under article 104, the stones must not be so big that the person dies after just one or two throws, but nor must they be too small. At any rate, the person must be in agony before dying. The lawyer and women’s and human rights activist Kar emphasises that the woman’s testimony is of absolutely no importance, particularly in respect of sexual offences. The voice of a female witness counts for nothing. In other cases a woman’s testimony counts for half that of a man’s, but sometimes a woman’s voice counts for nothing at all. Amputations are another chapter of the Islamic criminal code. Under articles 198 and 201, a thief’s four fingers, right arm or left leg can be chopped off. The left leg will be chopped off if the thief continues to steal, even if his four fingers have already been chopped off. By law, men aged 15 and over and women aged – believe it or not – nine and over are of criminally responsible age, as laid down in article 49 of the Iranian criminal code. Thus the law punishes little girls six years younger than it does boys. If a 15-year-old boy or a nine-year-old girl commits murder, the judge can pronounce the death penalty for minors. They will be executed from the age of 17 years.
The worrying position of the Bahai
In conclusion, the position of the Bahai is highlighted. They are regarded as outlaws. Their blood has no legal value and they can be killed arbitrarily. At present, seven members of their leadership are accused of spying for Israel, for which they face the death penalty. The Bahai have no civil and human rights in Iran. Not even Ayatollah Montazeri is prepared to give the Bahai genuine civil rights. Ayatollah Montazeri, who wished to become leader of the Islamic “Republic” of Iran after Khomeini’s death, went into legal opposition following his criticism of the mass executions in 1988. Even today he still believes that the aims of the Islamic Revolution have not been realised. On 14 May 2008, Ayatollah Montazeri issued a fatwa and granted the Bahai the right to water and soil. This law goes back to the old Persian kingdom of 2,000 years ago, and is a right that was granted to peasants without land or possessions. It amounts to a right to life without full civil rights. On 14 June 2008, Ayatollah Montazeri wrote that the Bahai were infidels and had to be fought politically. In any case the Bahai administration has been banned for 30 years. The Bahai are not permitted to disclose their identity publicly, and have been banned as a subject in society for 30 years. They are not allowed to studyat the university and even their graves are destroyed on state orders. As there is a pogrom atmosphere against the Bahai, Ayatollah Montazeri argues against genocide but wants to grant the Bahai rights as Iranians only if they have converted to Islam. The Bahai are not recognised as members of a religious minority in Iran, even though they are Iran’s largest religious minority. Civil and human rights for all Iranians can only become reality in a liberal democratic state and if state and religion are separated. Thus it follows that Iran’s Islamic criminal code is a serious barrier to the democratisation of Iran.
Wahied is a Senior Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels.
[Source: Published in at http://europeandemocracy.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13363&catid=4&Itemid=22]