Will the United States tread the path of Europe?


The Islamic Republic of Iran, which had been lobbying hard earlier this year to join such steadfast defenders of liberty and freedom as the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Kyrgyz Republic on the United Nations Human Rights Commission, has recently touched off an international furor over its judicial system’s sentencing of 43-year-old Sakineh Mohamedi Ashtiani to death by stoning, owing to her alleged crime of adultery.

A widow with two children, Ms. Ashtiani was charged with adultery, even though her offense occurred after the death of her husband.  Originally sentenced by a lower court in Azerbaijan during 2006, Ashtiani was punished with 99 lashes, in the presence of her teenage son.

Several months later, the case was reopened by a higher court, which eventually sentenced Ms. Ashtiani to death by stoning, even though as a Turkish-speaker Ashtiani could not comprehend the court proceedings, which were conducted solely in Farsi.

Despite demonstrations in Europe and North America during the last two weeks, Iran steadfastly maintains that, even though Ashtiani’s sentence has been temporarily postponed, she will eventually be punished.  Taking a more “lenient” position, a government spokesman in Tehran stated that there was a possibility of the stoning sentence being commuted to death by hanging.

All of this brought to mind the 1994 book by the French-Iranian journalist and war correspondent Freidone Sahebjam, The Stoning of Sorayah M.  The true story recounts a visit by Sahebjam to Iran, during which his car breaks down in a remote village.  While waiting for repairs, Sahebjam is approached by the aunt of a young mother and wife who, a few years previously, had been buried to her waist in the village square and suffered death by stoning.

Sahebjam is informed by the aunt how Sorayah M. (the stoning victim) had endured the plots of a husband who had wanted to rid himself of her in order to marry a younger woman, without any subsequent financial obligation to Sorayah and her children.  With the help of the local mullah and the village mayor, trumped up charges were brought against Sorayah, who then experienced the ultimate horror of Sharia law.

Encouraged by Sorayah’s aunt, Sahebjam eventually realized that Sorayah’s only hope for justice was to tell the world of her martyrdom.  Barely escaping from the village elders, Sahebjam eventually returned to France, where he was able to publish The Stoning of Sorayah M.

In 2009, The Stoning of Sorayah M. made its way to the silver screen.  Although it was honored by the Toronto Film festival, it has not played to large audiences in the U.S.  Nevertheless, it is a film of deep emotion and reveals what apparently many Americans are unaware of: Namely, that women in some Muslim countries are subject to the most depraved and nefarious of legal systems, Sharia law, which not only tyrannizes and represses them but also on occasion subjects them to the brutality of stoning.

From the standpoint of one who spent several years living in a Muslim country and one who also is grateful for the foresight of our Founders and for the precious guarantees contained in our Constitution, the book and the film will hopefully have a wider audience.  Perhaps those most in need of Sorayah’s story are American feminists and their liberal allies in the Democratic Party’s leadership, who often take pleasure in branding those who would question the wisdom of Muslim influence in the United States as “Islamophobes.”  Looked at another way, it would seem that the current administration and many of its followers in Washington are suffering from a severe case of “Islamophilia,” which has so beguiled them that they are unable even to bring themselves to utter the words “Islamic terrorism.”

Perhaps it is not so hard to believe that a country which goes by the oxymoronic name of “Islamic Republic” can prescribe such atrocious penalties.  But it is difficult to believe that a president of these United States would continue to seek a relationship of any value to this country by cultivating the likes of Ahmadinejad and the mullahs in Tehran.  But, then again, who would have ever thought that an American president would have been so off-base as to suggest that a priority of our National Aeronautics and Space Administration was to boost Muslim self-esteem in the fields of science and mathematics.

In 1970, the Muslim population in the United States was 900,000.  Today, it is more than 9,000,000.  Within that 9,000,000, there are many who would not only commit so-called “honor killings” in their own families but would also strike out in violent acts against the country which shelters them. 

Having acquired passable Arabic language comprehension while living in the Middle East, I have stood outside mosques in my own country and have listened to “sermons” flowing from sound amplification systems which have called down the wrath of God on the United States.  And yet, in the name of “political correctness” and “diversity,” we ignore all the warning signs until we experience a tragedy of the magnitude as the massacre allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Hassan at Ft. Hood.

Europe, which has admitted over the decades hundreds of thousands of Muslim workers to help finance socialistic cradle-to-grave systems of welfare and to offset the negative effects of declining populations with rapidly increasing numbers of senior citizens, now finds itself home to a growing population of 50,000,000 Muslims.  This has led some Muslim leaders, such as the dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya, to proclaim that Europe will become Muslim, not by armed conquest but by the inexorable course of demographics.

In 2002, Dutch parliamentarian Pim Fortuyn was assassinated by a deranged individual who acted as an assassin because of Fortuyn’s legislative attempts to limit Muslim immigration into Holland.  Two years later, Theo van Gough, a great-grandson of the artist van Gough’s brother and a film maker who had produced an expose dealing with the Muslim practice of genital mutilation of women, was eviscerated by a Muslim assassin on a street in Amsterdam.  Similar events have taken place in other locations in Europe, where in ever-increasing numbers of places it is not safe for Jews to walk the streets.

Here at home, CAIR (the Council on Islamic American Relations) continues its practice of suing municipalities to gain special privileges for Muslims (such as exclusive hours for Muslim-only use of public swimming pools), while at the same time being identified as a co-conspirator in a Hamas funding case. 

Certainly, one would never wish to totally bring to an end the immigration of a single group into the United States, for we should welcome any and all who come to these shores with a desire to work and to meld with our country’s language, culture and traditions and who also come with a validated appreciation of our political institutions and our Constitution. That being said, it also goes without saying that we are involved in a war with a world–wide network of Islamic terrorists.  It is only logical, therefore, that American immigration policies should reflect those hostilities, and any individuals seeking to enter this nation from Muslim lands should be subject to intense scrutiny.  The folly of not doing so is amply on display in 21st century Europe.

John Barham, formerly a dean at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, retired from the University of Missouri in 2006.  During his career in higher education, he spent six years in the Middle East.