World news reports regarding attitudes toward the death penalty in other countries is downright frightening. As much as we fight against injustice in the United States, the news reports coming out of Pakistan, Iran, and Singapore today only serve to reiterate how the American system of justice is much more merciful and compassionate than so many other jurisdictions on this planet.
Facebook Founders charged with Death Penalty Crimes in Pakistan for "Draw Muhammad Day"
At first, this seems to be something from Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die series, or maybe another Ashton Punk, or even some twisted publicity attempt for that new Facebook movie. No. The ugly truth is that a Pakistani High Court judge has indeed brought in the police after an a Pakistani attorney named Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed documentation with the court requesting a "First Information Report (FIR)," legalese for asking that that a criminal investigation be ordered.
In his application, Mr. Siddique allegedly asserts that Facebook principals have violated Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which states:
"Use of derogatory remark etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet, whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable for fine."
What’s the brouhaha? Back in May, Facebook sponsored "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day," when a 27-year-old Canadian woman created a Facebook page joining a Seattle cartoonist in an online protest of cable TV’s Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of "South Park," where the Prophet Muhammad was drawn wearing a bear costume.
After the Royal Canadian Mounted Police visited the Canadian Facebook page administrator’s home, telling her of possible reprisals and death threats against her, she took their advice and removed the page. The FBI, likewise, visited the Seattle cartoonist, giving similar advice to her — and she likewise took down her online protest and has taken herself out of the public eye. The names of both the Seattle cartoonist and the Canadian Facebook page administrator appear on hit lists.
But this must not be enough, to put names on assassination lists.
There are reports that Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General has begun an investigation into Facebook Founders Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz, as well as the German woman who initiated the "Draw Muhammad" contest under a pseudonym. Attorney Sidiqque has told media that he expects the Pakistani officials to enlist the aid of Interpol in coordinating the arrest of these four individuals. Additionally, Pakistan’s United Nations representative has purportedly asked to escalate the issue in the UN General Assembly.
Singapore Writer Arrest and Iran Stoning after the jump….
Singapore Arrests Author of Anti-Death Penalty Expose
Alan Shadrake, 75, is a well-respected journalist as well as an author, based in Great Britain. Today, he was released from a Singapore jail on bail after being arrested early Sunday morning by Singapore’s "media development authority" (whatever that is) for alleged "criminal defamation" in his book blasting Singapore’s death penalty. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison plus a monetary fine.
Shadrake cannot leave the country; they’ve taken his passport. His trial is set for July 30th.
Shadrake’s book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, is not yet available for purchase on Amazon or elsewhere in the United States, apparently. Published by a Malaysian company, it was launched in Singapore only a day before his arrest. According to excerpts published in an Australian paper, Shadrake’s book is heavily researched and documented, with sources including a Singapore former executioner, hangman Darshan Singh. For a very interesting photo of the hangman, look here. Telling.
Iran Will Stone to Death Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Today – Nevermind There’s No Evidence
According to the latest news reports from Iran, there will be no stay of execution today for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. She will be stoned today anytime within the next 24 hours. This, regardless of the international outcry against not only capital punishment without evidence to support it but to the barbaric manner of execution, being "stoned to death."
In fact, there’s talk that the Mullah in Iran are so incensed by the Western challenge to this execution, much less the opposition to it within Iran itself, that they may begin executing everyone sentenced to die in their jurisdiction by stoning or hanging, just to make a point.
It’s reported that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is one of 13 people publically sentenced to die by stoning; however, this is Iran. Many more may face this horrible death across a country filled with small villages and poor communications. The "Judiciary" there stones the victims to death in secret, usually, and often doesn’t even bother returning the bodies to the families for burial.
For those following this story, yes, there was an announcement earlier this month by the Iranian Embassy, that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani would not be stoned, However, the very next day, the "Secretary of the Judiciary Commission of Human Rights," announced to the media that the stoning would indeed continue as planned.
Sakineh’s Crime? Adultery.
Who is this woman scheduled to die today? Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is 43 years old. She has two children, Farideh, 19, and Sajjad, 22. She was initially sentenced to 99 lashes. She survived that punishment. However, that wasn’t enough.
Sakineh was tried a second time. Same offense (no double jeopardy protection here). From the second trial, the death by stoning penalty. There’s no evidence here. It’s just whether or not the judge gets a vibe that the accused is guilty.
Stoning is a Horrible Manner of Execution
She will die by being first buried up to her chest in sand. Stones are then thrown at her. They cannot be so small to be considered a stone, nor so big that she would die instantly from their blow. No information on who will cast the first stone.
Let us watch and pray. And let us be grateful for the system of justice we have in the United States of America, however flawed it may be.