09/16/2010 10:28 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iran, Sakineh: Compliments of Lewis Carroll

Decidedly, the Iranian judges are unrivalled when it comes to spreading confusion in a debate that is lamentably simple.

And the latest is that a woman veiled from head to foot with an unrecognizable voice, claiming to be Sakineh, has come to appear on Iranian television to deny the information her son and her attorney divulged to La Règle du Jeu and, through La Règle du Jeu, the western media. It seems that she was never whipped, that she was not ill-treated during her long but pleasant stay in the dungeons of the prison in Tabriz. And it is of her own free will, cheerfully and with joy, that she came forward, last August 12th, during an initial television broadcast similar to this one, to admit her complicity in a murder of which the courts had recognized her innocent three years previously.
The sideshow would almost make one smile were it not so disgusting.

And so we shall try to avoid entering into pointless debates here and go straight to the essential.
Lashes of the whip or none, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is accused of a crime she did not commit (complicity in murder) and of another which is not a crime at all (that of having, perhaps, loved a man who was not her husband).

And for these two crimes -- for the second, in any case, but seen through the prism of the first -- there are judges willing, not only to condemn her to death, but to promise her the most atrocious death possible: bombardment with stones, until her face is transformed into a bloody pulp.
This is the reality.

This is the horror that, for months, has filled our consciences with revulsion.

And this is the thing, the only thing that, for the time being, should matter to us. We must not fall into the trap. We must not enter, not even a little, into the logic of a judicial system that has gone crazy. And especially, we must not deviate from the line of conduct we have chosen, which consists of demanding at once the release of Sakineh and the abrogation of a punishment that brings shame to civilisation in general and to Persian civilisation in particular.

The rest, all the rest, is merely quibbling, manoeuvre and diversion, and bad theatre. The rest, all the rest, beginning with this new show of 'true confessions', is only a pitiful response to a mobilisation which has lost no momentum since it was launched by Heather Riesman and Marie-Josée Kravis in Canada, the Times of London in the UK, Arianna Huffington and others in the US, and La Règle du Jeu and me in Europe, and that embarrasses the Islamic Republic of Iran a little more with each passing day.

They must resign themselves to the fact that there are millions of men and women the world over women who will remain mobilized as long as justice is not served. And this kind of masquerade, this manner of playing with the destiny of an innocent woman and with the nerves of her family can have, as a result, only one effect: not that of crushing the élan but, on the contrary, of intensifying it, not that of creating doubt, but of inspiring even greater indignation.