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Is there nothing to learn from Sharia and the Stoning of Soraya M

Today I finally mustered up the courage to watch The Stoning of Soraya M after being in contact with the film’s wonderful director Cyrus Nowrasteh. It’s a heart wrenching account of one woman’s life, the status of women in Iran and the brutalities of stoning and Sharia law. The stoning scene is one of those scenes that will leave anyone who watches it forever changed and hopefully more resolute in fighting to end stoning and Sharia law altogether.

On the same day – still reeling from the film – I received yet another rejection email from a funder saying amongst other things that one of the reasons for rejection was their “doubts” about “the absolute nature of the [One Law for All] campaign – is there nothing that British law can learn from Sharia courts?”

Whilst such statements no longer surprise me, I still cannot stop myself from being enranged at the ease with which the denial of the rights and freedoms of ‘others’ – those of supposedly different cultures and religions – are excused.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have but I had to write back immediately and say: “All campaigns defending rights are absolutist in some sense. You cannot oppose torture and then believe that some forms of torture are alright. You can also not defend women’s rights if you believe that religious laws that deem women to be worth half that of a man have some merit.”

I suggested in my response that the grant officer read our report on Sharia law in Britain to see why the law must be opposed, full stop. I’d also recommend that see The Stoning of Soraya M while he’s at it.

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