27 March, 2007

Sudanese women to be stoned for adultery

Two Sudanese women have been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery after a trial in which they had no lawyer and which used Arabic, not their first language, the rights group Amnesty International said.

Sadia Idriss Fadul was sentenced on February 13 and Amouna Abdallah Daldoum on March 6 and their sentences could be carried out at any time, the London-based group said in a statement released late on Monday.

North Sudan implements Islamic sharia law.

"The women had no lawyer during their trial and were not able to defend themselves, as their first languages are those of their ethnic groups," Amnesty said.

Both women are from non-Arab tribes but the proceedings were in Arabic and no interpreter was provided, Amnesty said. Their trial took place in central Al Gezira state.

"One of the women, Sadia Idriss Fadul, has one of her children with her in prison," Amnesty said.

Faysal el-Bagir, a Sudanese human rights activist, said sentences of death by stoning were rare, "but we have heard that in this area there have been other such judgments."

The male accused in Fadul's case was let off because there was not enough evidence against him. Witnesses are usually required to gain a conviction and forensic tests are not normally used in such cases.

Under Sudan's penal code, anyone who is married and has sex outside wedlock shall be punished by execution by stoning. If they are unmarried, they are lashed, Amnesty said.

El-Bagir said that in another case in Sudan's western Darfur region about two years ago, a woman sentenced to death by stoning had her punishment reduced to lashing after a public campaign by rights activists.

Amnesty opposes all forms of capital punishment.

Sudan's justice ministry was unavailable for comment.

(from : Washington Post)

Two Darfuri Women Sentenced to Death by Stoning for Adultery, Male Partners Spared

Khartoum, Sudan - Two ethnic African women from Darfur have been sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery, while their male partners escaped punishment, a human rights activist said Thursday.

Faisal al-Bagir of the Khartoum-based Sudan Organization Against Torture said the women were tried separately in the criminal court in the town of Azaze in the central state of Al Jazirah, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

The women, identified as Saadiyah al-Fadel and Umounah Daldoum from the ethnic African Tama tribe in Darfur, were part of tribal folk working as farm laborers in the Gezira Scheme, a farming area in central Sudan.

Al-Bagir said the women were moved after trial to the prison in the city of Wad Medani, the capital of Al Jazirah. Al-Fadel, who was pronounced guilty of adultery and sentenced on April 13, is together in prison with her 18-month-old daughter, Al-Bagir said.

"Saadiyah was deserted by her husband for some time and she confessed before the court that she had got pregnant with this child from a sexual relationship with another man she had named," Bagir said.

The man was brought to the court and after he publicly dissociated himself from the act, was acquitted for lack of evidence, Bagir said. The other woman, Daldoum, had also confessed to adultery and was sentenced March 6.

Death by stoning is a punishment stipulated by the Islamic Sharia law which is observed by the Arab-dominated Sudanese authorities.

Al-Bagir branded the women's trial as unfair. "There were no defense lawyers and the trial proceedings were in Arabic, a language the defendants do not understand," he said.

He said that human rights groups were worried about the baby daughter in prison and also about the conditions the two women are enduring while waiting for their sentence to be carried out. A number of independent lawyers have submitted an appeal to a higher court in the case, al-Bagir said, but gave no details.

Gezira Scheme is one of the world's largest farming projects, dating back to the British in 1925 when a network of canals and ditches 4,300 kilometers long (2,700 miles) were dug to distribute water to tenant farms in the area's 8,800 square kilometers (3,400 sq. miles) lying between the Blue and White Nile Rivers. The region's main crop is cotto

- Associated Press

Call To Action: Women To Be Stoned In Sudan

Take effective action.

1. Write a message to the Parliament of Sudan. Express disapproval with the decision and encourage the Sudan to abide by international norms. Write whatever you feel will spare the life of the women. Heartfelt letters go further than form letters as we learned in our Afghan Government letter writing campaign, where a heartfelt letter by one of our readers prompted the Government of Afghanistan to reply and assure the safety of one of the persecuted women.

2. Contact the International Commission of Jurists. They have the expertise, resources, and legal firepower to persuade the government of the Sudan. This is demonstrable by their impeccable letter to the Government of Nigeria when that nation was going to stone a woman. It is obvious that the Commission is going to have to be pressured into taking action. That is all Western citizens can do at the moment, especially with a chaotic state like Sudan: pressure one of their elite institutions to make a persuasive argument.

3. Donate to Amnesty International.

4. Muslims and non-Muslims who want to understand how to construct an anti-stoning argument rooted in Islamic law should read this primer I wrote. I want to reiterate that I personally believe that this kind of theoretical analysis is largely an exercise in metaphysics. There is no purely "Islamic" state today, nor will there ever be one. So talking about theory of Islamic Law is largely useless, but it makes some people happy:

Stoning, or rajam, is a punishment in Islamic Law, meted out to adulterers. Under orthodox law, a person who engages in pre-marital sex is to be lashed 100 times while a person who engages in illicit sex outside of marriage is to be stoned to death. The verse which proscribes punishment for sex crimes in Islam is verse 2 of the 24th Chapter:

The woman and the man guilty of ZINA - flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

Immediately we see that there is no reference to stoning. That is because the punishment for stoning to death does not exist in the Quran. It comes in via the hadith. That hadith is deemed to have abrogated (sort of like veto) the Quran. For now I am not going to get into the discussion of abrogation or the merits of that particular hadith. That is for another day. My point was simply to show that the Quran does not make stoning a punishment. All I really want to demonstrate right now is the following:

The Arabic word “Zaniy” does not, in any way, relate to the marital status of the perpetrator. A married person guilty of the crime would be termed a “Zaniy”, as much as an unmarried person. In view of this fact, the Qur’anic law for a person guilty of the crime should be subjected to the punishment of one-hundred flogs, irrespective of his marital status. Any distinction made on the basis of the marital status of the perpetrator would, therefore, clearly be against the directive of the Qur’an.

In other words, there are persuasive reasons for Muslims to say to Iran — or any other party who engaged in stoning — that to do so goes against the Quran. I admit that this is the minority position in Islamic Law historically. However, our goal is to make it the majority position. The fact that it is the minority position should not detract us from making the argument that under Islamic Law, the most that Iran can punish these women is 100 lashings and therefore there should not be a stoning.

Now, immediately the question arises: would not 100 lashes just as equally kill a woman? The answer is it would almost definitely kill a woman. The other question that arises is this: replacing stoning with flogging still does not address the culture of patriarchy and the jurisprudence of oppression being practiced in Muslim countries. My answer is that indeed, it does not resolve any of those things. So then why even bother making this argument? Very simple.

Under a majority view in Islamic Law — ah, now we are in the majority — the Islamic punishments are a “ceiling” and not a “floor” of the maximum penalty. In other words, jurists — even orthodox jurists — accept that when you are going to flog someone for fornication you cannot flog them more than 100 times. Thus, our first goal, as reformists, should be to try to lower the “ceiling” from stoning adulterers/lashing fornicators to 100 lashes for both (since that is more consistent with the Quran).

In other words, first we have to collapse the distinction between pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex. Then we have to argue that the most either can be punished is 100 lashes, as the majority concurs. Then, we will take we have to really get our reformist asses active, and say, as does the Quran in Surat ul Burooj (Chapter of the Castles in the Stars), “God is the oft-forgiving and most merciful” to try and lower the number of lashes from 100 to maybe 40 (which can be survived), to maybe less than that, and eventually, to zero. So, if you want to make stoning go away, this is the argument you need to use.

How successful you are will depend on how persuasively you can demonstrate that critical first step: namely, a) that the adulterer/fornicator distinction does not exist in the Quran and b) the hadith about stoning does not trump verse 24:2 (where no stoning is mention). Step ‘a’ is easier because it is a question of language. Step ‘b’ is harder - much harder - because it requires for you to demonstrate that the hadith are not a primary source of law (which flies in the face of about 900 years of majority thinking in Islamic Law). With respect to step ‘b’ you should not, however, lose heart.

Over time I will show all the numerous jurists who historically did not consider the hadith a primary source of law that could therefore veto the Quran. I will also show that if you look just at contemporary Islamic Jurisprudence the ‘minority’ is at least about 40% (and rapidly growing and soon to become the majority). Since some of you will one day become Muslim Jurists (note that non-Muslims can be Islamic Jurists too) these lessons will be instructive. I will also set forth a number of different methodological tools that jurists today are using in the area of hadith (some will be completely challenge Islamic legal history; some, however, emerge right from it).

In the long term, there is no reason to say that when it comes to stoning Islamic Law cannot be changed. It can be. The tools are there. Only the knowledge is lacking. We will remedy that over time.

By Ali Eteraz

Related reference :
Stoning - Wikipedia

Stoning to Death in Islam - Wikipedia



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