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Iran's Ahmadinejad Harks Back To Koran, Cold War To Turn Tables On The West

Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrives at the United Nations in New York. Iran's president said the United States should make a humanitarian gesture by releasing eight Iranians he said were "illegally detained."
Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrives at the United Nations in New York. Iran's president said the United States should make a humanitarian gesture by releasing eight Iranians he said were "illegally detained."
By Robert Tait
For decades it was the standard rallying cry of the Soviet Union and its sympathizers: that behind the West's rhetorical wall of concern for human rights lay a closet rattling with the skeletons of double standards and hypocrisy.

Now the time-honored Cold War tactic has become the new weapon of choice for Iran's president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, in a counteroffensive aimed at restoring the Islamic republic's battered image and throwing the West's criticisms back in its face.

But where the Soviets countered critiques about labor camps and political prisoners by focusing on issues like civil rights, mass unemployment, and the conflict in Northern Ireland, Ahmadinejad has gone instead for the personal touch.

Visiting New York this week for the annual opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, he has contrasted the extensive Western media coverage of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, to that given to a Virginia woman, Teresa Lewis, who faces imminent execution for ordering the murder of her husband and stepson.

"A woman is being executed in the United States for murder but nobody protests against it," the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as telling a meeting of Islamic figures on September 20.

The 41-year-old Lewis -- whose case has been taken up by the Iranian parliament's human rights committee -- is scheduled to die by lethal injection on September 23, after the U.S. Supreme Court on September 21 upheld her execution. She will become the first woman to undergo the death penalty in Virginia for 98 years.

She was sentenced to death after being convicted of providing sex and money to two men to kill her husband and stepson so she could collect a large insurance payout. Campaigners have pled for her to be spared on the grounds that she has severe learning difficulties.

'Western Hypocrisy'

Invoking the "Western media storm" over Ashtiani, who has also been convicted of colluding in her husband's murder, Ahmadinejad said: "There are 3.7 million Internet pages about this woman. Her case is not yet final, yet Iran is being heavily attacked."

In an earlier interview with the U.S. television network ABC, he denied she had ever faced a stoning sentence. Ashtiani's execution has been suspended following an international outcry but her family fears she could still be put to death by hanging.

A demonstrator holds a picture of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in front of the Iranian Embassy in Rome.
The alleged parallel between Lewis and Ashtiani is not the only attempt at drawing a moral equivalence between U.S. and Iranian actions.

On September 19, Ahmadinejad called on the United States to make a humanitarian gesture by releasing eight Iranians he said were "illegally detained." The comments followed Iran's release on bail of Sarah Shourd, a hiker who had been held for 13 months and accused of spying after straying into Iranian territory from neighboring Iraq. Two other Americans, Shane Bauer -- Shourd's fiance -- and Josh Fattal remain in Iranian custody and face a possible trial.

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based group International Human Rights in Iran, says Ahmadinejad's effort to compare the U.S. detainees with convicted Iranian inmates in the United States may have backfired.

"I'm very surprised that he is explicitly coming to New York basically as a hostage-taker," Ghaemi says. "When he brings the issue of American hikers and puts them on par with exchanging them for Iranian prisoners here, he shows that the remaining hikers are really hostages because they have never been convicted of any crime there [in Iran]. And he is giving the signal that they will not be released until the Iranians who have been convicted in court are freed."

Political Polemic

According to Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy, Ahmadinejad's accusation of double standards is drawn from a blend of Islamic tradition and straightforward, leftist, anti-Western polemic.

"In Islamic tradition there is an art of polemic that even the Koran uses against its enemies and they call it 'jadad.' It means that you use your enemies' arguments against your enemy and you don't need to actually believe in those principles," explains Khalaji, a former Iranian seminary student.

"So when the West is talking about human rights, the Iranian government criticized the West for double standards, they criticize the West for violating human rights. What they want to say is that human rights is basically not a genuine concern for the West but [instead] it's a political means to pressure countries that challenge the power of the West."

Even Ahmadinejad's supporters acknowledge that his expressions of concern for Lewis are motivated by political rather than humanitarian concerns. Hooshang Amirahmadi, president of the American-Iranian Council and an advocate of rapprochement between Iran and the United States, says Ahmadinejad may have erred in trying to associate Lewis with Ashtiani's plight.

"I personally don't think he genuinely cares about this lady, but this is politics and he is trying to say that the West is using double standards, using the case of a woman being stoned in Iran so big, but being ignorant of this [case] in Virginia," Amirahmadi says. "But for Mr. Ahmadinejad, it is important to note that these are not always comparable. Stoning a woman for adultery against a woman here that may have murdered someone is not comparable. So, yes, sometimes the West uses double standards but I think it is not always fair to extend that argument to every case."

Not Seeing The Forest


Whatever the motivations, Ahmadinejad's embrace of Western human rights discourse could have a positive spinoff, Khalaji believes, in serving to make the regime less brutal. By not daring to publicly justify stoning or admit that it does not respect human rights, the argument runs, the Iranian authorities are tacitly accepting restraints on their behavior.

Ahmadinejad (left) is interviewed by CNN's Larry King -- one analysts says the Iranian leader was not challenged by the U.S. media.
Yet Western media and politicians may still be playing into the government's hands by focusing on individual cases rather than what Khalaji believes is the key issue -- the subjugation of Iran's judiciary to the whim of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"What we see is the political dependence of the judiciary on the leader. That's the main difference between the judiciary in Iran and the judiciary in Western countries. We should not just highlight some court sentences," Khalaji says.

"That can be misleading because it can be counterargued by this sentence in Virginia. The difference between a court in Virginia and a court in Tehran is that no political official is able to influence the decision of a judge in Virginia. But in Iran, it would be surprising if none of the political officials were interested in crucial decisions made by judges."

But with Ahmadinejad lapping up media attention on his New York jaunt, Ghaemi -- who says the president has blatantly lied about human rights in U.S. television interviews -- has another prescription: better advance preparation by the journalists interviewing him. Prominent interviewers have allowed Ahmadinejad to get away with verifiably false declarations and implausible denials, he says.

"Unfortunately, the journalists are not preparing properly and are not following up. They should really have the evidence backed up," Ghaemi says. "For example, with the stoning case, the evidence from the lawyers and the sentencing [should have been presented]. Hard evidence existed and it should have been waved in his face."
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Husein Javadi from: Yazd
September 22, 2010 16:27

The western media always refuses to mention that Ashtani killed her husband with her lover. Plus, it’s not the business of the Western imperialists to interfere in Iran’s Islamic penal code. Our society choose an Islamic Republic through a referendum.

The entire Western enterprise is collapsing. People who were so pro-western economic model and thought it can deliver paradise have been reconsidering their views, the West can no longer claim to be the materialist eldarado!

Ahmedinejad speaks logic and truth, that’s why he has managed to turn the table around.

In Response

by: L. Hart from: Atlanta GA
September 22, 2010 22:38

Why are so many Muslims leaving their coutry and faith for the freedom in the United States , Eruope, Neitherlands, etc.
What I find interesting is the fact that a man can commit adultry, murder his wife and stone her to death because of his weakness but the women suffers for it. What happens if a man commits adultry or if he is not a virgin on his wedding night? Nothing
Why should a women cover up for the weakness of a man? The only thing I get out of your faith is that the men are weak individuals who cannot control their thoughts felth so they kill and distroy. You lie on your wifes and find them at fault for your mistake. If this is what you Muslim faith is about then you can keep it.
American and the above countries have severals problems in the world but not half as many as the middle east. If all of the above coutries are considered infidels then why are so many Muslims leaveing their home land.If you don't like whats going on in the country your livin in ( American, UN, Neitherlands) then the freedom is there to leave and never come back. Read Below concerning readings from the Quran and you have the nerve to say the President of Iran is correct. Please he has bullied his way into office by blood just as he leads the coutry by blood shed.


Interesting Quotes about women from the Qur'an
It can be said that a religion is judged by what it says about its women. The Qur'an says much of them. All quotes from the Qur'an are from Yusuf Ali and can be found at the Qur'an online.

1.Men have more rights regarding divorce than do women
A.Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. Nor is it lawful for them to hide what Allah Hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise," (2:228)
2.Muslim men may marry up to four women, but no such provision is made for Muslim women.
A."If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice," (4:3).
3.A man's inheritance should be a portion of two females
A.Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half," (4:11).
4.It is okay to beat wives
A."Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all)," (4:34).
5.In Paradise, voluptuous women await men for sensual gratification
A."In them will be (Maidens), chaste, restraining their glances, whom no man or Jinn before them has touched," (55:56).
B."We have created (their Companions) of special creation. And made them virgin - pure (and undefiled), - Beloved (by nature), equal in age,- For the Companions of the Right Hand," (56:35-38)
C."Verily for the Righteous there will be a fulfillment of (the heart's) desires; Gardens enclosed, and grapevines, And voluptuous women of equal age," (78:31-33).

In Response

by: mojo from: usa
September 23, 2010 21:22
ask native americans ,ask black americans , ask Japanese americans ,ask irish americans ......
In Response

by: joe from: atlanta,ga
September 24, 2010 14:25
i'm pretty sure this guy has never picked up the bible, but somehow managed to google some Koran scripts..lol

by: Mehran from: canada
September 22, 2010 16:55
He is a criminal dictator. He is not elected president and I do not know why he has been permitted to get in the UN building or being interviewed? He wanted make the Atomic bomb to be the master of middle east! He put all the unhappy and under pressure Iranian in the jail or execute them.
In Response

by: Paul from: North Vancouver, BC
September 22, 2010 20:49
Ahmadinejad is a brave man who speaks nothing but the reality of our corrupted government in USA. This man has some guts to talk about things that other leader don't dare to talk about because they are scared of USA and always want to suck up to US leaders. Good Job Ahmadi. Keep up with the good work and don't give up.
In Response

by: Felipe Munoz from: Chile
September 26, 2010 02:28
Ok, maybe you'reright about that Ahmadineyad has guts to talkagainst the US. However... Are you insane???. Why you feel so happy about Ahmadineyad's brutal dictature??. First, it's a fact that muslim judiciary sistem is discriminatory, and manipulated by the clergy. Second, muslims are well-known liers, since it's permitted by their faith, if it's to attack enemy's morale. And finally, Ahmadineyad is a well-known ''showman'' on international and jewish affairs; as a way to cover the EPIC corruption, unemployment, injustice, and 'double-standard' political system. If you're a christian person, YOU MUST NOT DEFEND IN ANY WAYS THE BRUTALITY NAMED AHMADINEYAD; and dont mix the US political failures, with Iran's proper injustices and corruption. Ah... there's no doubt that you are those people that defends this muslims because you're afraid of their anger against those who critizese them. At least, I NEVER FEEL AFRAID OF THEM.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix AZ
September 23, 2010 00:35
Teresa Lewis will be put to death by lethal injection, not a brutal public execution.
That just proves the difference between human rights in the US and Iran. They want to trade the innocent hikers for convicted criminals. More proof.
In Response

by: richard from: ireland
September 24, 2010 12:52
well bill, what will be the end result of both executions? by the way, the lethal injection isn't as humane as hanging, if performed correctly. Look up about lethal injection, it isn't as swift as you may assume

by: chicago johnny from: chicago
September 23, 2010 09:20
I watched the Larry King Live interview with the Iranian president and it was the worst interview ever. First, he would not answer any questions, but instead, answer a question with a question. Because it was a live show with commercials, LK had trouble controlling the interview, mostly because Ahmadinejad wouldnt stop talking. You can tell LK got really ticked off once he started the topic with the holocaust, since he is jewish he took major offense at Ahmadinejad's responses. I think ABC's amanpour did a better job, but she was unable to get Ahmadinejad to answer any of the hard hitting questions. At least she was professional, knew when to move on to the next question instead of wasting time hearing filibuster. I dont know how the world can take this guy seriously, he deflects and avoids all questions from the interviewers. Personally I think hes playing games, and think all media should just avoid any more interviews. Its a waste of time, and hes just laughing at them.

by: Alakbar Raufoglu from: Washington, DC
September 23, 2010 23:52
Ahmadinejad and other dictators are just afraid their shades.
But time will pass, they will be forgotten. Just all the other ones. God help the people of the countries that are under dictatorship.

by: Grant from: UK
September 24, 2010 04:36
President Ahmadinejad does have a point with regard to 9/11.

The progression of time, since the 9/11 attacks of 2001, has enabled observers to see that there are some elements of the reported ‘facts’ which engender doubts in healthily critical individuals.

There have been several developments, since 9/11, which give rise to concerns that the US Government may not be presenting their position in a transparent manner.

Whilst the planes crashing into the twin towers, on 9/11, are indisputable, there are concerns about the real events which surround the ‘attack’ on the Pentagon. From the moment that news footage was displayed, from the Pentagon, it could be felt that we were being presented with a jigsaw and being told that it was complete but we could see one piece was missing. The debris that was evident, from news footage, did not support the reports that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Subsequently, CCTV footage has not supported the ‘facts’ that were reported. If we accept the idea that a plane did hit the Pentagon, then we must ask why was the Pentagon targeted and not the White House? A terrorist plane hitting the White House would make an enormous statement about the lack of suitable security within the USA!

As a result of 9/11, America invaded Iraq and removed Sadam Hussein. America then put a political system into place, within Iraq, which is going to make establishing a stable long term government, difficult. We should believe that this was a rushed and therefore regrettable decision. Another view is that whilst a government is unstable it allows for manipulation by a ‘friendly’, interested party.

From my own experience, and now I am back in the ‘jigsaw’ scenario I mentioned above, I lived in Kuwait in 1998/99. There are two roads from Kuwait City to the Iraq border, a dual carriageway and a minor ‘coast road’. When I was there in 1998/99 the ‘border crossing’ on the coast road consisted of a small hut and one pole across the road. This was when ‘the Iraqi aggressor’, who had invaded Kuwait, was still in power. Subsequently, when I lived in Kuwait in 2003/4, the ‘one pole barrier’ at the coastal border crossing had been replaced by substantial security gates. Sadam Hussein had been removed and the Kuwaiti’s American friends were now in control in Iraq – so why was there a need to have greatly improved security at the border crossings? On checking other border crossings, between Kuwait and Iraq, I found this ‘upgrade’ was universal.

So, I think President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does verbalise a concern that critical observers of the 9/11 and subsequent events have, in that the USA’s stated ‘facts’ and intentions may not be all they appear to be.

by: joe from: atlanta,ga
September 24, 2010 14:29
fear mongering is the prime weapon here. What they said about Saddam could make you hate the guy, look at all the lies coming out of declassified documents coming out. Where are the WDMs?

They love to slap Iran with Sanctions but can't get Isreal with one of the biggest nuclear arsenals in the region to stop?

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
September 24, 2010 17:10
We should not expect much from this president. He is obnoxious and onerous. He lectures the world on politics, capitalism, and morality, while he is unable to get the beggars and unemployed off the Iranian streets. In another words, he is unable to clean his own house before he opening his mouth.
He is a tragic figure, because for his sake, the Iranians in Iran have to pay the price. The more he opens his mouth the poorer the people in Iran become. Who in his right mind would want to invest in Iran when Mr. Ahmadinejad is unable to manage his mouth!
And, how long does he think, China is going to accommodate the regime in Iran?!
Many Iranians and non Iranians have lost their patients. His familiar boring rants have become tiresome!

by: NadePaulKuciGravMcKi from: the states
September 26, 2010 16:36
everyone knows the dirty 9/11 secret
why do people keep playing dumb ~

by: laformiotodidac from: france
October 02, 2010 13:15
Stones :
Loving stone,Loved stone,Stone girl Given birth to day,
Stone prayed,Stone venerated,Stone woman One day repudiated,
Stone of lover,Stone of liked,Stone man Of darkness.
From Anick Roschi –September 1,10

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