Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Opening one's eyes

Back in May I wrote about a case in Iran in which the court ordered the blinding of a man as punishment for his throwing acid in the face of a woman who had scorned him. The sentence was to be carried out because the victim, Ameneh Bahrami had demanded qisas, a form of retributive justice under Sharia law.

This past weekend, Ms. Bahrami changed her mind.  

Isna quoted Ms Bahrami as saying: "I struggled for seven years with this verdict to prove to people that the person who hurls acid should be punished through 'qisas', but today I pardoned him because it was my right.
"I did it for my country, since all other countries were looking to see what we would do."
Ms Bahrami was quoted on Iranian TV as saying: "I never wanted to have revenge on him. I just wanted the sentence to be issued for retribution. But I would not have carried it out. I had no intention of taking his eyes from him."

Ms. Bahrami pardoned her attacker, Majid Movahedi, on the day he was scheduled to have sulfuric acid placed into his eyes.

I have no idea whether Ms. Bahrami never intended for Mr. Movahedi to be blinded. For all I know this is what she wanted all along -- for Mr. Movahedi to live in fear of being blinded before pardoning him at the last minute. Maybe she was pressured to pardon him in the face of growing international concern over the cruelty of the punishment.

All I know is that it took great mercy and conviction for Mr. Bahrami to forgive the man who took her sight. As I wrote back in May, blinding Mr. Movahedi was not going to bring back Ms. Bahrami's sight. It was not going to undo the damage to her face.

In the meantime, we're appalled at the very idea that a court would order a man to be blinded as a punishment for his crime. Yet we have no qualms about the state sticking a needle in someone's arm for the express purpose of murdering them.

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