Iran’s deadly ‘Bizarro World’

Posted on 12 Aug 2010 at 7:36pm

The use of the Bible to defend laws in the United States could be as dangerous as the use of the Qur’an in the Iranian theocracy

EXECUTION
EXECUTION | Iranians Mahmoud Asqari and Ayad Marhouni were hanged in Justice Square in Mashhad, Iran, in 2005, after being convicted of sodomy. (Iranian Students News Agency)

In the Bizarro World, everything is well, bizarre! The planet is a cube; everything ugly is beautiful; everything is sort of the opposite of Earth.

Welcome to Iran!

In the real world, when a person is accused of a crime, evidence is presented to support the charge. Some sort of due process is used to deal out justice.

In the Bizarro World of Iran, not so much.

Take the case of Ebrahim Hamidi. He was arrested two years ago in Iran and charged with “lavat” (sodomy), a crime that is punishable by death.

Hamidi and three friends were involved in a fight with members of another family. Part of the charges leveled against them were that they had assaulted a man and attempted to abuse him sexually.

After three days of alleged torture, Hamidi confessed, and his three friends were released in exchange for their testimony against him.

It might sound like a pretty ordinary assault and attempted rape case — but for the fact that the alleged victim admitted he fabricated the charges under pressure from his family.

In the real world, that would most likely result in the charges being dropped and Hamidi being set free.

But remember, we are in the Bizarro World of Iran.

Hamidi sits awaiting execution for homosexual acts, even though he is heterosexual and from the testimony of the victim, innocent.

Why? Well, it seems there is a bizarre legal loophole that allows something called a “judge’s knowledge” to bear weight in a case where there is no supporting evidence, and the judge says, “Hang him.”

Here in the real world his defense lawyer would be throwing out every legal motion in the book to stop this miscarriage of justice. In Bizarro World the defendant has no lawyer, at least not any more.

His attorney, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, is no longer in Iran. He was forced to flee the country to live in permanent exile in Norway because of his human rights advocacy.

His wife was arrested and held in solitary confinement just to drive home the message. She has since been released now that Mostafaei is out of the country.

You see, in Bizarro World, lawyers like Mostafaei, credited with saving at least 50 people from execution during his career, are not welcome. He defends children and women against harsh punishments that include the medieval practices of stoning and public whipping.

Sounds strange and outlandish, but it’s true.

Iran is a country that is, in effect, a theocracy. The laws are adaptations of Shari’ah, the Islamic legal tradition that includes the Qesas law, or “eye for an eye.”

These traditions were augmented with loopholes like the one allowing judges to use circumstantial evidence and just plain intuition in deciding life or death matters.

It is not a happy place for many people — and LGBT citizens in particular. There is a lesson in this sad and strange tale, and that is the explicit warning against theocratic justice.

If you don’t see any reason to fear this kind of problem back here in the United States, you must be familiar with neither the Bible nor the make up of our highest courts. The legacy of the Bush years still haunts us and will for many years.
And that “eye for an eye” thing is a direct quote from both the Qur’an and the Bible.

Our founding fathers were some pretty sharp cookies, and when they consciously shied away from any kind of state religion, they did so because of the immense potential for abuse that they saw in theocracy.

That wisdom is under constant attack by the right wing revisionists who would have us believe we are a Christian nation. Those same voices warn against the evils of Islam and the draconian Shari’ah Law, yet if given a chance they would impose the same kind of restrictions. They would just give them a different name.

The story of Ebrahim Hamidi is a cautionary tale, and it is one we should take note of, leastwise we might slip into the “underverse” and end up in a Bizarro World of our own.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

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