Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Top judge quashes stoning, amputation

TEHRAN — Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, head of Iran’s hard-line judiciary, quashed the stoning sentence of a woman convicted of adultery and a sentence of amputation for an armed robber, Iranian media reported yesterday.

The woman, identified only as Seema, was sentenced to 100 lashes and stoning for adultery and 15 years in prison for being an accomplice in her husband’s murder. The husband was killed by one of the woman’s lovers, the daily Shargh reported. The ayatollah only quashed the stoning sentence.

In the case of the robber, the amputation sentence was revoked and his conviction reduced to ordinary theft, the Iranian Students News Agency reported. The man, who was not identified, used to steal cars dressed as a woman.

Murder, armed robbery, rape, apostasy and serious drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Iran. At least 85 persons have been executed in Iran this year, according to reports in the country’s main newspapers and other media monitored by Agence France-Presse. Amnesty International reported that there were at least 108 executions last year.


System lacks people’s trust, poll finds

AMMAN — Eight in 10 Jordanians have little faith in their country’s democratic system, fearing that criticism of the government would have repercussions, said a poll published yesterday.

A little more than 80 percent of those polled said they could not “criticize the government openly or differ with its views without themselves or their families being subject to security repercussions,” the poll found. The survey was conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan.

A sweeping 90 percent said existing political parties do not represent the people’s political, social and economic aspirations.


Robots to replace child jockeys in races

DOHA — Qatar is set to substitute robots for jockeys in camel races, a favorite sport in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region, which has faced widespread criticism over the use of child jockeys from the Indian subcontinent.

But the sport’s top official in Doha insists that the emirate never abused child camel jockeys in the first place, and that the plan to use Swiss-made “robot-jockeys” within the coming year was not in response to protests by human-rights groups.

“We have successfully completed three phases in the production of the robot,” Sheik Hamad bin Jassem bin Faisal al-Thani, president of the organizing committee of camel races in Qatar, told Agence France-Presse. “We are awaiting a visit by the engineers handling the project to start the fourth, and probably last, phase.”

Weekly notes

Turkish-Cypriots moved closer to early elections yesterday after their minority government abandoned efforts to build a new coalition. “The government has to reflect that 65 percent of Turkish-Cypriots voted for a solution to the Cyprus [reunification] problem when they voted ‘yes’ to the U.N. plan in last April’s referendum,” said the head of a key party. … Ravil Gainutdin, chairman of the Council of Russia’s Muftis, wants Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims to merge their religious lives in Russia. He said at the second gathering of the All-Russian Azerbaijani Congress that he had asked Russian authorities to allocate land for a Shi’ite mosque, Interfax reported yesterday. “But I pose a question to the Congress: Should we continue making a distinction between Shi’ite and Sunni mosques? For they share all major Islamic teaching,” he added.

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