I recently had the experience of watching the award-winning motion picture The Stoning of Soroaya M.  I had mixed feelings about watching the film even before I watched it.  On the one hand I was confident that it would be worth watching because the reviews I read about it all raved about the quality of the acting, the directing, the cinemaphotography, etc.  On the other hand I knew that the film would be depressing because it was based on a true story.  But, my desire to know more about the Islamic law, Sharia, overcame my timidity and I ordered the film from Netflix. 

As I expected, the film both inspired me and depressed me.  That seems to be the reality we live with as we struggle to understand our new Muslim neighbors who have immigrated into the United States in increasing numbers during the Obama Administration.  Given their high birth rate compared to other Americans, predictions are that the Muslim minority will become significant in a few decades.  Their birth rate is high because Muslim men can have four wives in the United States (1 official and 3 unofficial) and Muslims do not practice abortion like ‘Christian’ Americans.  God forbid that judges in the United States will ever permit stoning under Sharia law, although several judges have expressed an openness to Sharia law. 

Nonie Darwish’s commentary below is worth reading. 

– Abyssum 



Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Silencing of Soraya M.

by Nonie Darwish

Why would a human-rights activist oppose a film exposing human rights abuse?

On June 24, 2009, the Huffington Post ran an article, Sensational Film Exploits Human Rights Issues in Iran by Elise Auerbach, Amnesty International USA’s Iran specialist. The author criticizes the new film, The Stoning of Soroaya M., arguing that it does more harm than good. But perhaps she should tell that to her own organization, which recently hosted a screening in supporting the film. To Ms. Auerbach, I would like to say that the act of stoning is sensational to all those who cheer and participate in it. As a “specialist,” perhaps she can compare the movie to videos of actual stonings, noting not just the horrific violence upon the victim, but also the chilling enthusiasm of the crowd.

The director of the movie, Cyrus Nowrasteh, simply showed the truth that no one in Hollywood dares to touch. Stoning is one of the most horrific acts committed against humanity. I want to thank Mr. Nowrasteh from the bottom of my heart, not just for the realistic stoning scene, but also for his portrayal of the Muslim culture of secrecy, pride and shame which condones, indeed encourages, such actions.

When I lived as a Muslim in the Middle East, I personally knew victims of honor killings, and heard about the bodies of women floating in the Nile that no one cared to report. Even the police ignored such horrific murders. In Muslim culture, women’s bodies belong to men. If they are shamed, men cannot live with dignity and respect in society unless they kill the suspected wife or daughter. One of the most moving parts in the movie was the pressure placed on Soraya’s father to throw the first stone. That father could not have survived in dignity if he had refused. It was brilliantly done and so true.

Speaking as though the defense of human rights in Iran are the exclusive right of one group or another, Auerbach sounds like an Iranian official when she say, “Iranians don’t need people from outside Iran telling them what is good for them.” Accordingly, since Amnesty International is an outside entity, can she say the same thing applies to both her and her organization? Indeed, it has been external pressure applied by that very organization and others which has compelled Iran to place moratoriums, however brief, on stoning in the past.

Ms. Auerbach also writes, “It is very unusual to see issues that Amnesty International has worked on appear on film.” Again, she speaks as though independent efforts to expose women rights violations in Iran must receive her stamp of approval, as if she and her organization have an exclusive right to comment on these issues. Even though Mr. Nowrasteh and cast are almost all of Iranian origin, she said that “Iranians themselves — and in particular Iranian women’s rights activists — have organized and carried out a vigorous campaign against the practice of stoning and have themselves been actively documenting the practice.” Does she mean that since there are such Iranian organizations (almost all working with support from the West), there is no need for the film? In fact, in the July 12 Washington Times, Manda Zand Ervin, president of the Aliance of Iranian Women, wrote an op-ed piece praising The Stoning of Soraya M, where she wrote, “this movie can help our cause of human rights awareness” and suggested the U.S. Congress, the White House, the United Nations, and the European Parliament must see the film.

Even though death by stoning is still the written law of Iran today, Ms. Auerbach says that three men were stoned to death in Iran since last August. Is this a ‘gotcha moment’ because the victims were men instead of women? Does that somehow mitigate it? She ignores the fact that the film discusses a larger Sharia problem. The rest of the Muslim world, from Morocco to Indonesia, still practices this barbaric behavior, both officially by a few governments and more often unofficially and unreported, by street vigilante justice. I wonder if Ms. Auerbach knows that ‘murderers of adulterers’ are excused from punishment by Sharia, thus allowing vigilante justice free reign against adulterers (or alleged adulterers)
Auerbach also criticizes the film’s main character, the stoned woman Soraya, as “merely a mutely suffering victim,” an odd interpretation by anyone who’s seen the film. Regardless, would that change the injustice? She also stated that women stoned have usually committed multiple crimes and not just adultery. This is immaterial and rejects the key fact that the laws of Islam regarding adultery clearly state that adulterers will be stoned, period. The laws never state that adultery must be linked to another crime as the Iranian “expert” claims.

Furthermore, it’s clear that Ms. Auerbach is unaware of the famous book of the same title upon which the movie is based. Written by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam in 1990, it became an international bestseller. All those who follow human rights and women’s rights issues in Iran are aware of the book and its impact.

Ms. Auerbach is apparently very concerned that the film portrays Iranians “as barbaric, bloodthirsty savages.” I cannot understand why she is more concerned about the reputation of Iran than the atrocity of stoning people to death there. The movie never generalizes about Iranians. It’s a cheap shot by her to criticize a well-done movie that stands for human rights.

Auerbach stresses that “we must look at stoning in the overall context of executions in Iran.” Wow. Is she talking about the slow hangings of homosexuals in public squares? I don’t think so. Execution of murderers is swift, but perpetrators of “moral” crimes are killed torturously. Ms. Auerbach must understand that the barbaric, cruel and slow death by stoning in which fathers, sons and husbands participate is not equal to execution of mass murderers which must still be done humanely.

Amnesty International, a noble and well-intentioned organization, has less impact on ending tyranny in the world than a great and courageous film like “The Stoning of Soraya M.”

See also: This article on

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, JURISPRUDENCE, JUSTICE. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. abyssum says:

    @ revfrjpatrickserna

    I do not think that “it serves America right” to be taken over by Islam, but I do believe that just as the infidelities of the Israelites were the instrumental cause of God allowing Israel’s enemies to conquer it, so the infidelities of ‘Christian’ America are the instrumental cause of the impending takeover of America by its growing Muslim population. Perhaps that is just a distinction without a difference.

    – Abyssum

  2. revfrjpatrickserna says:

    @ Leo Rugiens, vis a vis your comment that: “Given their high birth rate compared to other Americans, predictions are that the Muslim minority will become significant in a few decades. Their birth rate is high because Muslim men can have four wives in the United States (1 official and 3 unofficial) and Muslims do not practice abortion like ‘Christian’ Americans.”

    I have this question: “If followers of a false prophet and false God are in SOME ways living more ethically (e.g., high birth rate and no abortion) than the children of the REAL God Jesus Christ, then does it serve us American Christians right, to be taken over and be subjected as our Hebrew forefathers were subjected in Egypt by the followers of a false god? As a staunch American patriot and proud Roman Catholic, I would like to think that it should NOT serve us right. But… what I would LIKE to think is the case and what REALLY IS the case might be two different things.

    What do you think, Leo? I invite any other input from fellow readers as well. God Bless all of you. Rev.Fr.J.Patrick Serna, M.A.

  3. abyssum says:

    @ Curt Stoller

    That is a powerful comment, Curt! Thanks for sending it.

    – Abyssum

  4. Curt Stoller says:

    “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” said Santayana. Truer words could not be spoken concerning American’s culpable blindness regarding Islam. Our childish addiction to the idea of progress is a sin against the intellect and Arlington National Cemetery is where young men pay the ultimate price for it!

    I dare anyone to pick up the Iliad of Homer, read it and tell me that he does not recognize the same fallen human nature that we find today. But we are committing this spiritual and historical euthanasia that Saint Pius X condemned in Lamentabili sane exitu and Pascenda Dominici gregis. Our spiritual contempt for the past is now matched by our moral blindness to medical euthanasia which Your Grace has courageously fought. It is as though we have this historical attention deficit disorder. “Hitler’s Germany could not happen today,” the so-called progressives say as we watch barbarism in Islamic countries with rose colored glasses, the same rose colored glasses through we witnesses the slaughter of the unborn by the millions here at home. “9-11 could never happen again,” say the same “progressives” as they throw open the borders of the United States to all comers.

    Technical progress has not changed human nature an iota. It is shocking that college educated men who have supposedly read the classics could buy into the bunk that we are “different” and “superior” to men of the past; and that we do not need to pay attention to history any more. Contempt for the past and contempt for learning from the past: It’s intellectual suicide. And its immoral.

    Pol Pot, the sociopathic communist who gave us the killing fields, wanted to destroy history with his idea of Year Zero. The past doesn’t exist and we are at year zero, he taught. That is the attitude of liberal politicians in Washington. Atrocities, even potential ones, offend their notion of progress. They don’t seek to end atrocities but to “explain” them in such a way as to preserve their doctrine of progress. They say things like: “We must understand and sympathize with the terrorists, abortionists and, and, and.” “We must reason with them,” they say. That is what the appeasers and their quislings said about Adolph Hitler. The idea of the moral progress of humanity is a myth and a dangerous one!!

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