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José Ramos-Horta

José Ramos-Horta

Posted: July 8, 2010 09:35 AM

Cross-posted from TheCommunity.com


Update: Reports have emerged that Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani has been granted a reprieve from death by stoning, but still faces the death penalty for adultery.

I am aware, as I am writing this, that I come from a country far from Iran, and a religious and political culture that are different in many ways. But there are elements that tie all religions together. Compassion and love are two of those elements.

Any person who has studied the words of God or felt Allah's blessings has been privileged to know His mercy and forgiveness. So how could it be that He would approve of our treating our fellow men and women -- our brothers and sisters in his family -- with anything less?

Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani and her children are His creations as surely as you and I are.

We do not always do well at interpreting the will of our God in this world. My Church, the Catholic Church, does not stand above reproach in this. We will always have the stain of the Spanish Inquisition and the torture of innocents assumed to be heretics in our history. Today the Church is dealing with shortfalls in its treatment of those who have abused children, God's precious young ones.

But we must remember that these acts are the acts of Man, not acts of God. As individuals, and citizens of this planet, can only say that we will continually strive to do better, and to better reflect God's wisdom and mercy in our lives and in the communities and civilizations we build.

As we strive to do this, we must at times recognize that barbarities that were a part of past cultures in our religious history no longer have a place in our lives. In the case of stoning, its roots are not in the Quran but are in the Torah, believed to have been written in 500 BC -- a world that has little in common with our world today.

It is time to leave stoning as a form of capital punishment behind us as a race, to relegate it to the same place we have put stringing heretics on racks -- in a chapter of our past that we are not proud of.

The case of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani -- a terrified woman who does not even speak the language of her accusers -- is an opportunity for us to show God's wisdom and mercy to another.

I do not pretend to be a religious scholar and I do not pretend to be able to comment on the legal proceedings or details of her case. It is as a fellow human being that I appeal to those who are the Supreme Leaders of Islamic Justice, the interpreters of the will of Allah on Earth, to show His compassion and love, if not to the mother than at least to the two young children whose lives will be destroyed by this event, to touch their heads with the understanding that Allah would not want his innocent young children to be exposed to such extreme suffering at the hands of Man.

We can do better than this.