The Stoning of Soraya M. is a film by Cyrus Nowrasteh, based on a true story and an international best seller with the same title by the French-Iranian journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam. A must see for anyone contemplating marriage with a citizen — or, someone with the potential of becoming a citizen — of a nation that legalizes stoning to death as a punishment for adultery.
A video is worth a million words, but I could not find the clip online that details the execution of this monstrosity masquerading as the law. In brief: my wife, who thought she couldn't stomach the stoning scene, walked out before the first stone was cast. I decided to watch the entire sequence of horror, because I wanted to be angry, very angry. What follows is the stoning of Soraya in my own words, perhaps the most harrowing 30 minutes of my movie watching experience ever.
The killing begins with her father aiming poorly and missing her repeatedly. Then, the conniving husband takes over, and hits her right on the forehead. And once more, this time knocking Sorya's half-buried body over. Next, the two sons take their turns, the younger one reluctantly, and the older one exultantly. They learn quickly, don't they? A perjuring but remorseful witness, who had, under duress, accused Soraya of adulterous behavior towards him, is unable to cast the stones — of course. Soraya's face is now a bloody mess.
The mayor of the town, as would every politician whose sole aim is to keep his job, takes his aim. He is followed by the local representative of allah, the town's mullah, who is only too pleased to do the bidding of his heavenly boss whose hatred for women is all too well known. Religion, they say, is a bag of superstitious beliefs, but harmless. Then, why is Soraya, buried to her waist and profusely bleeding now, barely conscious? Go, figure!
After the family and the officialdom, it becomes a community festival, complete with a traveling circus and its ring master. A nice cinematic touch, Cyrus Nowrasteh, I'd like to say, but cannot under the circumstances. The stones are now raining on Soraya's convulsing body, with shouts of "allahu akbar" reverberating across my living room and beyond. God is great, yeah right!
In a matter of minutes, Soraya is turned into a gruesome heap of flesh, blood, and bones, which, according to her god's law, cannot be buried, but must be left for the dogs to feast on. Now, close your eyes, and imagine Soraya as your mother, your sister, your lover, your daughter, your granddaughter. I did. So much for allah, the compassionate and the merciful!
I have written against "honor killing" here and here. It is undeniable that the practice cuts across cultures and religions. Yet, when law takes the side of murderous barbarians who kill for their "honor", it becomes a crime against humanity. It cannot be, and ought not to be, tolerated in the name of multiculturalism or whatever else the nonsense the apologists bandy about. Samuel Huntington was wrong. This is not a clash of civilizations. Societies that prescribe or condone killing to restore "honor" cannot be seen as civilizations. Quite the opposite.
Adultery and its implications merely concern two, at most three, individuals. At worst, it's tantamount to reneging on the implicit contract, if any, between a couple to remain monogamous in their relationship. Either party reserves the right to divorce the relationship in the event of non-compliance with this contract, without the uninvited intrusion of the state or the society into their bedroom or family room. Indeed, they have the right to break it up, if the relationship were to turn sour for any reason. Adultery is just one of those precipitating events.
Friends and members of the extended family, much less the society at large, have no right to butt into the affairs of the couple. Counseling may be welcome, but only at the discretion of the couple involved. To make adultery a social crime, and grant the state the right to punish, cruelly or otherwise, is a bad idea. It belongs only to the ash-heap of such religulous ideas, not to the governing law of a civilized society.
Soraya's words to the gathering of her sons, husband, father, and her neighbors will remain with me until I die:
How can you do this to me? I am your neighbor, your mother, your daughter, your wife. How can you do this to anybody?
Really, how can you?