Iran Human Rights Official Draws Fire for Defense of Stoning

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Though a Parliamentary committee in 2009 recommended the country ban the practice and some Islamic scholars argue there is no Koranic justification for stoning, the government of Iran continues the policy.

Following Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, stonings were large spectacles held in public spaces. Since the mid-1990s, however, stonings have been carried out in secret.

Ashtiani's case has become an international cause célèbre, with at least one foreign government, Brazil, offering to give the woman asylum.

Spotlight on Iran's Use of Stoning

Some analysts argue that if Iran were to stone Ashtiani it would cause more damage to its reputation than its alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

"If they stone her, they will open the gates of a tsunami of condemnation, while they will make it much easier to gather consensus in the international community for stronger sanctions," said Meir Javedanfar, analyst and author of "Mahmoud Ahmedinejad: The Nuclear Sphynx of Iran."

"This is especially true in the EU [European Union]. People may or may not believe that Iran is making a nuke, but to stone a woman for adultery? Had Saddam done this the case against war in Iraq would have been a little easier to justify."

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