Stop Fundamentalism, July 26 – An Iranian woman has been sentenced to death by stoning. The sentence of Ashraf Kalhori could be carried out in the coming weeks, her lawyer said. With various fatwas, or religious edicts, issued in 2003, some ayatollahs had asked judges to stop giving death sentences by stoning, in favour of alternative punishment. Reports from Iran over recent months however indicate that sentences ordering death by stoning are again being issued: at least five in the past 12 months.
"Fatwas are not enough to stop this barbaric and medieval practice," said Shadi Sadr, a women’s rights lawyer. "Single judges are not obliged to respect the fatwas. To stop stonings, we need a change to the law," said Sadr in a telephone interview.
"My client, who has been held for five years in Tehran’s Evin jail, three days ago received a judicial ordinance which announced her imminent execution by stoning," she added.
As the lawyer of Ashraf Kalhori she has filed a statement of repentance and remorse on her client’s behalf, but repeats that the problem must be tackled at the source and called on international public opinion to mobilise against the practice of stoning in Iran and in other Muslim countries where the laws derive from the sharia or Islamic law.
"In Iran, beyond the specific case of Kalhori, women are very concerned about the return of stoning, which has been suspended for several years," added Shadi Sadr. "For this reason, womens groups and feminists are working on a public awareness campaign to force the government to adopt a moratoriuim on stoning," she added.
"Such a campaign, even abroad, could help us in our battle for the rights of women and against this barbarity" she concluded.