Posted: Mon – August 30, 2004 at 06:24 PM
From time to time, I’ve had the occasion to discuss why I won’t argue America’s interaction with the world from a zero-sum, morally neutral point of view.
Atefeh Rajabi appears to have been a fairly normal 16-year-old: sulky, disobedient, and eager to have sex. In London, those attributes earn lectures from parents and teachers on the importance of acting responsibly and not being offensive. In the city of Neka in Iran, where Atefeh Rajabi comes from, they get you hauled up in front of a judge.
Atefeh’s typical teenage behaviour meant that she was charged and found guilty of “acts incompatible with chastity”. The judge in the Islamic court ruled that the appropriate penalty was death. That’s right: death. Her sentence was confirmed by Iran’s Supreme Court.
And that penalty was carried out, by hanging her from a crane in full view of the city. Pour encourage les aûtres.
Ordinarily, even the “sin of unchastity” for an unmarried teenager wouldn’t have merited the death penalty under sharia. But Atefeh managed to compound her crime by sassing the judge, and “undressing” in the courtroom. She took off her hijab:
It seems that all she did was to take off her headscarf and insist that she was the victim of an older man’s advances: but even if she had stripped naked and called the judge a fat ignorant bastard, those actions would hardly merit death, even under Islamic law. Nevertheless, the judge was so outraged that he decided he would personally put the noose round the child’s neck.
Makes perfect sense.
Welcome, fellow travelers, to the 21st century.
The writer, one Alisdair Palmer, writes with eminent good sense:
What would be headline news if it happened in America (can you imagine the response if a 16-year-old girl was executed for having sex in Texas?) is, because it happens in an Islamic state, apparently too banal to count.