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Bernard-Henri Lévy

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Letter to Sakineh

Posted: 08/22/10 09:19 PM ET

A new initiative to try to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has just been launched in France. Inspired by last week's petition, signed here by Mia Farrow, Jody Williams, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of these lines, and a few others, this new initiative is a joint initiative of a major women's magazine that is well known in the United States (Elle), a daily newspaper of the left (Libération), and a literary review (La Règle du Jeu). What does it consist of? In substance, it amounts to a daily letter to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Starting today and every day, an artist, an intellectual, a political leader or simply an internet regular will send an open and public message of solidarity with the young Iranian presently living on death row at Tabriz prison, waiting for the sentence of stoning to death to be carried out. Long or short messages, a quote or citation, a word, a poem, a plea, a cry--all of these will be welcome as long as they let Sakineh know that she is not as alone as it may seem to her, and as long as they let her assassins know that the world is watching them and judging them. Here, for the readers of Huffington Post, is the first of these letters, signed by the great French actress, Isabelle Adjani. Others will follow. Many others. Let's pray for Sakineh.

Bernard-Henri Lévy

Sakineh, your name beats in my heart, and my heart beats, writing to you. Your name is on all lips and will be murmured to burst the eardrums of the judges who remain deaf to the moans of the women among whom you are the invincible figure of liberty. You are the real woman, cruelly rich with unrealized possibilities, the one who gives flesh and blood to a sense of justice that makes the entire world shiver in disgust, the one that would rip its skin off were we not capable of conquering the deliberate obscurantism of men who are enraged by the power of your very existence.

The woman writing you is only a French actress whose artistic vocation leads her to take on, as humanly as possible, the faults and the torments of often tragic heroines. She is only the minute extension of the "fragment of our destiny as women" which you represent and of your refusal of this "savoir mourir" forced upon you by those who are obsessed, in the name of criminal ignorance, with the desire to liquidate the magnificence of your dignity. They are crazed with rage at the simple idea of love--yes, love--your liberty represents. I leave you, dear Sakineh, you who remain with us constantly.

-Isabelle Adjani