International TV interview with Maryam Kousha
September 27, 2004

Maryam Namazie: Atefeh Rajabi, a 16 year old girl, was executed on August 15, 2004 by the Islamic regime of Iran for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’. The judge personally put the rope around her neck and left her body hanging in the city square for 45 minutes as a lesson to passers-by. This has outraged everyone and people are asking how this could happen in the 21st century. Upon broadcasting this news, someone wrote saying they could believe almost anything from the regime but this.

Maryam Kousha: In a way the person who has asked this question is right. We who know about the news coming from Iran everyday, know that it is just unbelievable. It is horrendous that such things happen in this day and age. Even if it happened 2000 years ago, it would still be horrendous. I know horrendous things happen everyday, but executing a 16 year old for something that everybody, you and I, take for granted makes it unbelievable. But unfortunately it is happening in countries like Iran. It has happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and most Middle Eastern countries. It happens even in the heart of Europe. We have seen so many so-called “honour killings” for the same reason. The difference is that in countries like Iran it is state violence. Violence against women is not only practiced, but also encouraged. In Europe, you see honour killings but the governments obviously do not support it in law. If they catch you doing it, you will be sentenced. But such crimes are still acceptable within the various “communities”. In Iran, as I said it is pure state violence.

Maryam Namazie: We received another letter stating that when they hear about such executions, they think that the Mullahs, the clergymen themselves should be jailed, tortured or even executed. They should be punished for what they’ve done to young lives and the agony and suffering that they have imposed for 25 years in Iran. What is your opinion on that?

Maryam Kousha: I believe most people are humanitarians. People do not want humankind to be hurt. It is our nature. Somebody sees a crime happening: A 16 year old being hanged in public; it is just heartbreaking. Even if it is your enemy you do not want to see that horrific scene. The person asking the question is putting him/herself in the position of the judge who passes the sentence or in the position of a citizen of Iran and asks what the hell is going on? If it were up to me, what would I have done? When you have this rage, the immediate thing coming to your mind is who has executed her? I am going to execute him! But as we know this is not the answer. It shows some sort of concern in a way as to what can be done. I agree with the person asking the question. Yes we should do something about it. But the answer is not executing yet another person. We are not looking for somebody in this scenario to execute. We are trying to find out why Atefeh was executed; what system allowed it to happen. She had, as you said, sexual relations with someone. That is her freedom. You have the right to choose what you want to do with your life. Freedom both for women and men. That RIGHT has been taken away from her. That is the issue here. Going back to the question, what caused it? Who did it? Was it the court? Was it the actual judge? Was it he personally? The judge and the rest of the Islamic regime’s officials should be prosecuted in the international court of justice. That is the way to treat them. We should not be talking about executing the whole lot of them no matter how much we hate them. I understand the sentiment behind that question. Because you are angry, you want to do something about it, you want to find the real culprit but their execution is not the answer.

Maryam Namazie: Another person wrote asking why the man who she had sexual relations with was given a 100 lashes whilst Atefeh was executed. He has asked us to talk about the fact that there is such discrimination in the penal codes of the Islamic Republic of Iran and violence against women particularly. What is your comment on that?

Maryam Kousha: In this case we have seen 100 lashes inflicted on the man. In many cases even that doesn’t happen. The man somehow disappears! Even if we say there are different sorts of punishments for the same crime for men and women, there are two ways of looking at it.
1- Look at the situation as it is, accepting the rules of the regime, respecting it and seeing how unjust it is within its own framework.
2- Question the whole set of rules and the law.

I tend to choose the second. If you want to get bogged down into the legal system in Iran, after a while it becomes comic. The fact that Islam is discriminatory is clear in every chapter of the Koran. (This is obvious to everybody. Just look at Iran; women have to cover their bodies, men don’t; women do not have the same rights as men have; they inherit less than men and so on.) But we are not here to argue this and try to get the same rights for women and men within the framework of the Koran. We don’t accept the framework in the first place. We want to go beyond the framework.

There are some ‘reformists’ who accept the framework and want to somehow sugar coat it or gain some reforms within that framework. We are not in that business because we know from history and experience that it just does not work. We question the whole thing. We are not here to say that punishment between men and the women should be the same! Either both should be sentenced to 100 lashes or both be executed! What we are saying is that none of them should be punished in the first place. It is a good question but it depends on how you look at it. If you answer it within the framework of the existing law, you won’t go far, but questioning the whole law would yield more favourable results.

Maryam Namazie: Someone else has written and has asked where the Koran is in this situation? They say, if it were according to the Koran, there would have had to be four witnesses to have seen this sexual act. In that case she wouldn’t have been executed if they had actually followed the Koran. What are your comments on that?

Maryam Kousha: Lets be honest, it is not rocket science to figure this one out. Let’s say you were going to have sexual relations with somebody, you don’t go to your neighbour and say hello I need 4 people to come and have a look and be a witness to what I am doing! You don’t do that. So these complementary sentences in the Koran following section after section or chapter, as I said before, become comic. One of the purposes these verses serve is for scholars to sit down in a debate to discuss that the Koran could be progressive. They could say look at this section, use this sentence or that sentence. People in Iran have seen what it does and they do not need these references. We have seen these verses in action far too many times. People in Iran do not take them seriously.

Maryam Namazie: Another question is from an Iranian living in Spain. He says that he is left and believes that secularism is important in Iran, but he says perhaps most of our citizens in Iran are too used to stoning, amputations and discrimination. And given their mentality along with the judiciary system, we shouldn’t be amazed or surprised that this is happening and he is not sure if we could ever have a secular system in Iran. What do you think?

Maryam Kousha: I think what I’ve said so far and what I’m about to say reflect more of the sentiments and passion and the way of thinking of the majority of the people in Iran, rather than the very small section that would say the Koran is the way. Only a minority accepts Islamic values and way of life. But the majority do not. Nobody, not even the most vicious person, would ENJOY looking at somebody being decapitated or being executed in public (or in secret) or seeing a body part amputated. The majority of people in Iran, especially women, are sick and tired of what is going on. They are striving to gain their freedom and rights. The mere fact that the Islamic regime needs to hang a 16-year-old in public shows that people in Iran are not used to it. If it was something that you were used to, clapped for and had no problems with, the Islamic regime of Iran would not have had the need to use it as a tool to terrorise people or teach them a lesson. The reason why they resort to such actions is because they know people do not want what the regime is “offering” and has done for more than two decades. So THAT in itself shows that the statement in the question is not really true. The other part of the viewer’s comment is true. People in Iran demand secularism and separation of religion from the state.

The above is an International TV ( interview dated September 27, 2004.

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