Ninety lashes. Blogger Charity Hume writes that “in order to grasp the nature of the punishment currently sanctioned by Iran’s government,” she Googled “flogging in Iran” and described what she saw:
Dozens of photographs came up. The pictures show flayed flesh, raw skin, and the mutilated backs and legs of human beings. Because the sentence is frequently carried out in public, many of the pictures depict a ring of spectators. Here… are the tribesmen who hold down the woman as she is flayed, here are the priests and imams who have ordered the scourging. This ring of spectators who silently witness and therefore sanction the punishment have both civil and religious authority to enact this sentence with the full blessing of their religion and their legal code.
Iran also arrested six independent filmmakers last month on charges of collaborating with the BBC and painting “a black picture of Iran and Iranians.” This oppression of filmmakers critical of the Islamic fundamentalist nation is in stark contrast to the regime’s welcome offered to Western apologist filmmakers like Oliver Stone’s son Sean, who has defended the regime’s madman president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said that he is eager to make films based in Iranian history and culture.
Meanwhile in India, which boasts the wildly prolific and lucrative Bollywood film industry, the movie Azaan has found itself embroiled in controversy after a Muslim leader petitioned the Bombay High Court. Dubbed one of Bollywood’s most expensive movies ever, the action thriller centers on an undercover Army officer out to thwart a (non-Muslim) terrorist plot. It appears that the film’s name (“azaan” refers to the Muslim call to prayer) “hurts Muslim sentiments,” especially when associated with terrorism, and led a Mumbai mufti to issue a fatwa declaring that no film can be named “azaan.”
Farookh Ghosi, the vice-president of Mumbai’s largely Muslim-supported socialist Samajwadi Party, announced that
[f]ollowing the fatwa, I have filed a writ petition in the high court seeking the court’s directions to file an FIR [first information report] against the movie producers, director and actors for abusing and exploiting the holy name of “azaan” for commercial gains, which has hurt Muslim sentiments.
Ghosi also demanded a stay on the global release of the film, scheduled to be released Friday, and a ban on the movie until the producers change the title. He threatened:
If the state government fails to respond within the next 24 hours, over 10,000 Muslims along with muftis and maulanas [respected Muslim leaders] shall stage demonstrations after the Friday afternoon namaaz [prayers] all over Mumbai.
Considering how the post-prayer demonstrations against Persepolis went in Tunisia, with a mere few hundred protesters, the threat that 10,000 Muslims whose sentiments have been hurt might rage against theaters and the filmmakers throughout Mumbai is one to be taken very seriously indeed – and yet one to be combated if freedom of expression is to prevail over fundamentalist oppression.
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