August 26, 2004
Mullahs Commit another Heinous Crime
The Iranian theocracy has been in power for more than two decades. Yet, there seems to be a dangerous misunderstanding as to how this brutal regime has survived so far. The on-again off-again loosening of some social restrictions notwithstanding, the mullahs have used sheer brutality to suppress political dissent. Sponsorship of terror and export of fundamentalism have complemented the domestic crackdown in keeping the mullahs in power.
The vast majority of the Iranian people despise the clerical regime, which explains why the clerics resort to repression cloaked under religion will not keep the regime viable in the long run. Nevertheless, Tehrans barbaric justice helps it cling on to power on a day-to-day basis.
To be sure, this reign of terror is spread by a multitude of agencies and security forces to all aspects of life in Iran. These agencies include the Judiciary, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, State Security Forces, the Ministry of Intelligence and the paramilitary Bassij Force.
The Judiciary plays a crucial role in legitimizing this reign of terror. Notorious for its brutal torture of political prisoners and often lethal interrogation, such as in the case of the Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, the Judiciary is as barbaric in its treatment of ordinary offenders, carrying out hanging, flogging, limb amputation, eye gouging and stoning in public.
The state-controlled dailies in Iran reported that three prisoners were hanged in public in the southern city of Kerman last Saturday. These executions brought to more than 100, the number of people executed since March 2004. But the execution last week of an under-aged Iranian girl stunned the world.
Iran Focus web site reported that on August 16, Ateqeh Sahaleh, a 16-year-old girl in the town of Neka, northern Iran, was hanged in public. Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi approved the hanging. The religious judge, who personally put the noose around Ateqehs neck, said brazenly that her punishment was not execution but he had her executed for her sharp tongue.
This inhuman killing is not only a testament to the misogynous nature of the regime in Iran, but reflects the immorality of the Europeans in promoting dialogue with the clerics and putting business before principles.
As shocking as this crime was, no one in Europe or in the United States even bothered to offer an expression of grief over, let alone condemnation of, the mullahs barbarity. When we turn a blind eye on this sort of savagery, we are seen as approving of such heinous atrocities and assure the turbaned tyrants in Iran that they can go about their ruthless practices with impunity.
Direct dialogue or striking a grand bargain with Tehran - the derivatives of the failed policy of engagement - only serve to perpetuate the Iranian tyranny. To end this sort of medieval brutality, Washington should take the lead in lending support to the millions in Iran who are demanding regime change. Practically speaking, it ought to reach out to the anti-fundamentalist opposition forces it has so far shunned in an attempt to accommodate Tehran.