Sensationalist Film Exploits Important Human Rights Issue in Iran

Ordinarily, human rights activists would be pleased when the rare major motion picture shining a light on human rights violations comes along. In fact, aside from documentaries, it is very unusual to see issues that Amnesty International has worked on appear on film. However, sometimes a film can so distort an important human rights issue, that it may do more harm than good to the cause.

Sadly, this is the case with the new movie opening this Friday, “The Stoning of Soraya M,” the purportedly true story of the brutal execution by stoning of an innocent Iranian village woman. For one thing, the film is marked by crude story-telling: the main character Soraya is merely a mutely suffering victim while her brutish husband, who falsely accuses her of adultery so that he can marry a teen-aged girl, is a cardboard caricature of evil and malice. More importantly, aside from the numerous inaccuracies and implausibilities, the climax of the film—a bloody and prolonged stoning scene with villagers mercilessly pelting the victim—is so sensationalized that the audience response is likely to be disgust and revulsion at Iranians themselves, who are portrayed as primitive and blood-thirsty savages.

The film is presented as an indictment of Iranian society as a whole, and the setting—a remote rural village of about 25 years ago—is presented as typical of contemporary Iran. In the film, the victim’s aunt (who though she is supposed to be an ignorant village woman, inexplicably speaks excellent English and smokes cigarettes with 1940s femme fatale flourishes) is eager to have the French-Iranian journalist, who stops in the village shortly after the incident, smuggle a tape of her relating the story out of the village. She states that she wants the whole world to know what happened there, presumably so that those on the outside (the west?) can rescue the benighted Iranian people from their barbaric practices.

In fact, Iranians themselves—and in particular Iranian women’s rights activists– have organized and carried out a vigorous campaign against the practice of stoning and have themselves been actively documenting the practice. Opposition to the practice occurs at the highest level of the Iranian legal system; the Head of the Iranian Judiciary announced a moratorium on stoning back in 2002 and it was reiterated in August 2008. Sadly, at least three people have been executed by stoning since then. Interestingly, all three were men.

By criticizing the film, I am not dismissing the importance of the issue. Amnesty International issued a major report on stoning in January 2008, in which it is described how this form of execution is prescribed for adultery—although in practice, it is usually adultery in conjunction with some other crime, such as being an accessory to the murder of a husband. Furthermore stonings are carried out in prison yards by government agents, not by members of the community.

Crucially, we must look at stoning in the overall context of executions in Iran. Stonings represent a tiny fraction of executions in that country. Iran executes more people than any other country in the world except for China. In 2008 it executed at least 346, the overwhelming majority of whom were executed by hanging, sometimes for politically motivated offenses, and often after flawed legal proceedings. But again, Iranians don’t need people from outside Iran telling them what is good for them because Iranians themselves have taken the lead in opposing executions in their country. The renowned Iranian human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi was recently awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals award, partially for his anti-death penalty activism.

I would urge those who really want to see important social issues in Iran critically examined should check out some of the great films made in Iran such as “A Time for Drunken Horses” which deals with poverty among Iran’s Kurdish minority, “The Day I Became a Woman” and “As Simple As That” about the frustrations experienced by women in Iran, and “Santoori” which deals with drug addiction.

An accurate and thoughtful film about executions in Iran would be welcome, but we will still have to wait as the “Stoning of Soraya M” is not it.

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92 thoughts on “Sensationalist Film Exploits Important Human Rights Issue in Iran

  1. Wow! Imagine this comment from an Amnesty International representative, "Crucially, we must look at stoning in the overall context of executions in Iran. Stonings represent a tiny fraction of executions in that country." And later, "Furthermore stonings are carried out in prison yards by government agents, not by members of the community." Then go on to demonize a filmmaker for telling a story of an isolated incident.

    But's it okay, because there's only been 3 reported stonings since 2002. Coincidentally there were 3 people waterboarded at Guantanamo. I must have missed all those blogs from Amnesty condemning people who brought up that torture.

  2. Wow! Imagine this comment from an Amnesty International representative, “Crucially, we must look at stoning in the overall context of executions in Iran. Stonings represent a tiny fraction of executions in that country.” And later, “Furthermore stonings are carried out in prison yards by government agents, not by members of the community.” Then go on to demonize a filmmaker for telling a story of an isolated incident.

    But’s it okay, because there’s only been 3 reported stonings since 2002. Coincidentally there were 3 people waterboarded at Guantanamo. I must have missed all those blogs from Amnesty condemning people who brought up that torture.

  3. Well…it is a true story and if you have read the book you will understand it is almost completely accurate. The book is even more violent! You should research more before you write an article based off intellectual cynicism. From Amnesty International I would have expected an article with more incite and wisdom. As a human rights activist this film touched me so deeply having lived in worlds where these injustices still occur! Someone needs to stand up for these injustices in America. Too many times have I gone to the theaters and seen Hollywood films about NOTHING! Sounds like those are the kind of films you are interested in! I am sorry if you were discomforted by this film, but it is a true story and look how far it has traveled from a tiny remote village in Iran! I have lost some respect for Amnesty after reading this article that is for sure.

  4. I think there was a stoning May 8 2009 and I just heard of one that happened 10 days ago. So in a month that is 2. Two more than there should have been. Let's do something about this! I am so happy they made this film because now people will stand up and fight for what is right! Shohreh is amazing!! A true hero! Let's put an end to stoning!!

  5. Well…it is a true story and if you have read the book you will understand it is almost completely accurate. The book is even more violent! You should research more before you write an article based off intellectual cynicism. From Amnesty International I would have expected an article with more incite and wisdom. As a human rights activist this film touched me so deeply having lived in worlds where these injustices still occur! Someone needs to stand up for these injustices in America. Too many times have I gone to the theaters and seen Hollywood films about NOTHING! Sounds like those are the kind of films you are interested in! I am sorry if you were discomforted by this film, but it is a true story and look how far it has traveled from a tiny remote village in Iran! I have lost some respect for Amnesty after reading this article that is for sure.

  6. I think there was a stoning May 8 2009 and I just heard of one that happened 10 days ago. So in a month that is 2. Two more than there should have been. Let’s do something about this! I am so happy they made this film because now people will stand up and fight for what is right! Shohreh is amazing!! A true hero! Let’s put an end to stoning!!

  7. There is no denying that stoning is a human rights issue. Amnesty International has documented a total of six stonings since 2002 and three since August 2008 when a moratorium on stoning was reiterated. All three stoning victims since August 2008 have been men. The most recent one was in March 2009. The question is not whether the issue is important, the question is how the movie portrays the issue. There is no independent evidence as to whether or not the events in the movie are true or not. The problem is that the movie is presented as an indictment of Iranian society–in need of help from the outside. In fact Iranian activists themselves, such as Shadi Sadr, have been very actively working to stop the practice of stoning. The stonings that have been documented by Amnesty also are not public; they take place on the premises of prisons and are carried out by government agents, not members of the community. Also, Soraya's chador would never have been removed; the only reason she appears bare-headed and wearing a white dress in the movie seems to be so that the blood pouring from her wounds will be more striking.

  8. I think the point of the piece may be more about how people in the West (to generalize vastly) often have simple, grand, mistaken ideas of what life is like in Iran. It's a contested place. It's always (well, for a long time) been a very contested place – with many people who consider themselves intellectual, and who would be taken as such by people in the States and elsewhere. That is, to say, that the gross stereotypes of barbarism don't really apply so well. And in the larger political spectrum, it's important, for long term growth, to not hold or reinforce gross stereotypes in our minds, as that works against overall development. Such that, while the film makes a strong point, it sacrifices much in the process.

  9. There is no denying that stoning is a human rights issue. Amnesty International has documented a total of six stonings since 2002 and three since August 2008 when a moratorium on stoning was reiterated. All three stoning victims since August 2008 have been men. The most recent one was in March 2009. The question is not whether the issue is important, the question is how the movie portrays the issue. There is no independent evidence as to whether or not the events in the movie are true or not. The problem is that the movie is presented as an indictment of Iranian society–in need of help from the outside. In fact Iranian activists themselves, such as Shadi Sadr, have been very actively working to stop the practice of stoning. The stonings that have been documented by Amnesty also are not public; they take place on the premises of prisons and are carried out by government agents, not members of the community. Also, Soraya’s chador would never have been removed; the only reason she appears bare-headed and wearing a white dress in the movie seems to be so that the blood pouring from her wounds will be more striking.

  10. I think the point of the piece may be more about how people in the West (to generalize vastly) often have simple, grand, mistaken ideas of what life is like in Iran. It’s a contested place. It’s always (well, for a long time) been a very contested place – with many people who consider themselves intellectual, and who would be taken as such by people in the States and elsewhere. That is, to say, that the gross stereotypes of barbarism don’t really apply so well. And in the larger political spectrum, it’s important, for long term growth, to not hold or reinforce gross stereotypes in our minds, as that works against overall development. Such that, while the film makes a strong point, it sacrifices much in the process.

  11. I have been working in some of the poorest countries in the world for the past few years, and I am so happy they made this film. This film is an eye opener to good and evil. In the West it is very grey because of all the technology and ease from such things. In poorer areas for example in parts of South America, you do not have grey. There is a black or white mentality. In Africa as well, as you can see from the genocide in Rwanda. Evil is much more visible. So this film puts in more in perspective for those who spend a lot of time in the grey. It is uses a circumstance metaphorically to display the innocent that are slain throughout the world. We have all been victimized in some way, so unless you are pro-evil you will side with this film. We have all been hurt by those that should have loved us, and been let down, some torn apart. So for those in the grey you will feel completely absorbed in this film even if you cannot relate to the environment of the setting. It is a film for any person with any good in them, so I don't know what that says for Amnesty.

  12. I am really surprised that Amnesty International is not more supportive especially with what is going on in Iran right now…? How can you write a review like this? I saw this movie and I am dumbfounded right now. Then you try and justify it, because "Soraya’s chador would never have been removed," this should have never happened! It was made by an Iranian cast and crew and Ahgashdaloo witnessed a stoning during her life their. Yes they were two men, but have you not heard of representation. That is art, and if all you see is fact and never "read between the words" then you should not be working for an organization that prides itself at helping others. FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT YOU ARE CRAZY!

  13. I have been working in some of the poorest countries in the world for the past few years, and I am so happy they made this film. This film is an eye opener to good and evil. In the West it is very grey because of all the technology and ease from such things. In poorer areas for example in parts of South America, you do not have grey. There is a black or white mentality. In Africa as well, as you can see from the genocide in Rwanda. Evil is much more visible. So this film puts in more in perspective for those who spend a lot of time in the grey. It is uses a circumstance metaphorically to display the innocent that are slain throughout the world. We have all been victimized in some way, so unless you are pro-evil you will side with this film. We have all been hurt by those that should have loved us, and been let down, some torn apart. So for those in the grey you will feel completely absorbed in this film even if you cannot relate to the environment of the setting. It is a film for any person with any good in them, so I don’t know what that says for Amnesty.

  14. I am really surprised that Amnesty International is not more supportive especially with what is going on in Iran right now…? How can you write a review like this? I saw this movie and I am dumbfounded right now. Then you try and justify it, because “Soraya’s chador would never have been removed,” this should have never happened! It was made by an Iranian cast and crew and Ahgashdaloo witnessed a stoning during her life their. Yes they were two men, but have you not heard of representation. That is art, and if all you see is fact and never “read between the words” then you should not be working for an organization that prides itself at helping others. FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT YOU ARE CRAZY!

  15. Haven't seen the movie.

    But i wouldn't read anyone who spoke "as an Amnesty representative" & not, primarily, for herself.

    i would read only someone who writes only what s/he thinks & feels, & not what good politics or the party line dictates.

    i think Elise writes in that spirit, unsparingly as she should, speaking primarily for herself as the reviewer, & in such spirit she deserves to be answered . We can point to her aesthetic deficiencies or factual inaccuracies if any, but not her "wrong" politics, because she must choose her own.

    Amnesty people have the right to their own tastes & views, & everything they say shoudn't be attributed to their organisation.

    We wouldn't want AI to be that sort of place, either.

    As for critiques, i always liked a good strong one, unsparing & forthright.

    If anything, those who disagree with Elise can only be glad her views enabled their views & versions to be seen in a broader perspective for whatever merit they may or may not have, for no truth is more sharply underlined than when it is contested.

  16. "Art" if Elise "writes in that spirit, unsparingly as she should, speaking primarily for herself as the reviewer, & in such spirit she deserves to be answered" why would she not stand up for those same privileges that women like herself are forbidden in places like Iran, instead of slandering a human rights film that stands up for the very rights she is taking full advantage of?

  17. Haven’t seen the movie.

    But i wouldn’t read anyone who spoke “as an Amnesty representative” & not, primarily, for herself.

    i would read only someone who writes only what s/he thinks & feels, & not what good politics or the party line dictates.

    i think Elise writes in that spirit, unsparingly as she should, speaking primarily for herself as the reviewer, & in such spirit she deserves to be answered . We can point to her aesthetic deficiencies or factual inaccuracies if any, but not her “wrong” politics, because she must choose her own.

    Amnesty people have the right to their own tastes & views, & everything they say shoudn’t be attributed to their organisation.

    We wouldn’t want AI to be that sort of place, either.

    As for critiques, i always liked a good strong one, unsparing & forthright.

    If anything, those who disagree with Elise can only be glad her views enabled their views & versions to be seen in a broader perspective for whatever merit they may or may not have, for no truth is more sharply underlined than when it is contested.

  18. “Art” if Elise “writes in that spirit, unsparingly as she should, speaking primarily for herself as the reviewer, & in such spirit she deserves to be answered” why would she not stand up for those same privileges that women like herself are forbidden in places like Iran, instead of slandering a human rights film that stands up for the very rights she is taking full advantage of?

  19. Thank you for your spiirted response, dear L. Bechleshe. Your unsparing words are just the spirit in which advocacy for the oppressed is needed.

    What KIND of support do the oppressed really need, anywhere on earth ?

    A critical support or an UNcritical one ??

    An uncritical support has no life, merely a dull repetitveness !! Or it can be the glib flatulence for which El Obama is noted . A lot of uncritical support for the Iranian protestors abounds in the Western media & power points !! Such support has the agenda of its speakers at heart, not the interests of Iranians.

    Critical support, whether correct or incorrect, brings the real issues AT STAKE to life. If Elise wrote an uncritical but supportive review, she would get NO COMMENT at all, if we judge by the response film reviews get on this blog . i would go farther and insist that ALL SUPPORT to an oppressed people OUGHT TO BE CRITICAL SUPPORT , BECAUSE THERE'S NO TIME OR SCOPE TO PRETTIFY THINGS HERE !! Speak to the problems — or don't speak at all !!!!
    But here, of course, i can only speak for myself .

    What i'd like to hear from the overwhelming majority on this issue ( the lovers of the film ) are alternative analyses of the film itself — not a reassertion of their own positions on Iran or rights. i'd love to hear how the film can be differently viewed. NONE of the film's supporters deconstructed the film to show us what IT is about, according to their own vision. Elise was the ONLY person who went with a comb through the film itself — as any critic must. A critic is NOTHING IF NOT CRITICAL.. She analyses by her lights — her detractors have ONLY focused on their version of how the film OUGHT TO BE seen — THEY HAVE NEVER VENTURED INTO THE FILM'S OWN TERRAIN as Elise has. As long as you avoid YOUR OWN WORK of FILM criticism ( which is what this issue is about ) while simply BLAMING HER FOR DOING HERS, you leave your OWN critical contributions unrealised. And THESE are eagerly awaited.

  20. Thank you for your spiirted response, dear L. Bechleshe. Your unsparing words are just the spirit in which advocacy for the oppressed is needed.

    What KIND of support do the oppressed really need, anywhere on earth ?

    A critical support or an UNcritical one ??

    An uncritical support has no life, merely a dull repetitveness !! Or it can be the glib flatulence for which El Obama is noted . A lot of uncritical support for the Iranian protestors abounds in the Western media & power points !! Such support has the agenda of its speakers at heart, not the interests of Iranians.

    Critical support, whether correct or incorrect, brings the real issues AT STAKE to life. If Elise wrote an uncritical but supportive review, she would get NO COMMENT at all, if we judge by the response film reviews get on this blog . i would go farther and insist that ALL SUPPORT to an oppressed people OUGHT TO BE CRITICAL SUPPORT , BECAUSE THERE’S NO TIME OR SCOPE TO PRETTIFY THINGS HERE !! Speak to the problems — or don’t speak at all !!!!
    But here, of course, i can only speak for myself .

    What i’d like to hear from the overwhelming majority on this issue ( the lovers of the film ) are alternative analyses of the film itself — not a reassertion of their own positions on Iran or rights. i’d love to hear how the film can be differently viewed. NONE of the film’s supporters deconstructed the film to show us what IT is about, according to their own vision. Elise was the ONLY person who went with a comb through the film itself — as any critic must. A critic is NOTHING IF NOT CRITICAL.. She analyses by her lights — her detractors have ONLY focused on their version of how the film OUGHT TO BE seen — THEY HAVE NEVER VENTURED INTO THE FILM’S OWN TERRAIN as Elise has. As long as you avoid YOUR OWN WORK of FILM criticism ( which is what this issue is about ) while simply BLAMING HER FOR DOING HERS, you leave your OWN critical contributions unrealised. And THESE are eagerly awaited.

  21. I just cannot figure out what Amnesty's problem with this film is. Sensational? Really? Read the book and then tell me it was sensationalized on screen.

    Is it because the critic is an Iran "specialist" at AI and has probably worked toward the elimination of stoning in that country and does not want public perception to be that it is still a big issue? It IS still a big issue.

    Or is AI just not interested in touching on the bigger issue brought forth by the film of the nature of Islam and the unchecked application Islamic law? Fine.

    There were only a few documented stonings since 2002 and they were of men. Human rights applied to men last time i checked. How many stonings would AI estimate went UNdocumented? None? Please.

    The film is going to bring much needed awareness and debate to the issue of stoning, of religious oppression and of human rights in general no matter what insignificant inaccuracies and other things you can nit pick about that you might find in it.

    This "review" (when did Amnesty start its movie critic wing anyway?) is really making me question my involvement and support for AI. Sad.

  22. Elise, go read Shirley Jackson's THE LOTTERY and realize what a failed human being you are. I suppose it's okay if only TWO young men are hung from construction cranes for being gay. Or if only ONE teenaged girl, Atefeh Rajabi, is hung for having sex before marriage. That's only three kids, and they're Iranian. That's not my concern, I'm not Iranian.

    Now, whenever someone GOOGLES "Elise Auerbach," this review will appear. How does that make you feel? Does Amnesty International need someone like you?

  23. I just cannot figure out what Amnesty’s problem with this film is. Sensational? Really? Read the book and then tell me it was sensationalized on screen.

    Is it because the critic is an Iran “specialist” at AI and has probably worked toward the elimination of stoning in that country and does not want public perception to be that it is still a big issue? It IS still a big issue.

    Or is AI just not interested in touching on the bigger issue brought forth by the film of the nature of Islam and the unchecked application Islamic law? Fine.

    There were only a few documented stonings since 2002 and they were of men. Human rights applied to men last time i checked. How many stonings would AI estimate went UNdocumented? None? Please.

    The film is going to bring much needed awareness and debate to the issue of stoning, of religious oppression and of human rights in general no matter what insignificant inaccuracies and other things you can nit pick about that you might find in it.

    This “review” (when did Amnesty start its movie critic wing anyway?) is really making me question my involvement and support for AI. Sad.

  24. Elise, go read Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY and realize what a failed human being you are. I suppose it’s okay if only TWO young men are hung from construction cranes for being gay. Or if only ONE teenaged girl, Atefeh Rajabi, is hung for having sex before marriage. That’s only three kids, and they’re Iranian. That’s not my concern, I’m not Iranian.

    Now, whenever someone GOOGLES “Elise Auerbach,” this review will appear. How does that make you feel? Does Amnesty International need someone like you?

  25. A genuine critique of Elise cannot be one other than a critique of the film.

    Yet to see one.

  26. thank you for writing this. AI has always been among the first to speak up on human rights issues in Iran and I reallly really appreciate your sensitivity and attention to detail.

    I commend you for writing this review. I trust you with human rights work in m country. We need people like you. Keep up the great work.

  27. A genuine critique of Elise cannot be one other than a critique of the film.

    Yet to see one.

  28. thank you for writing this. AI has always been among the first to speak up on human rights issues in Iran and I reallly really appreciate your sensitivity and attention to detail.

    I commend you for writing this review. I trust you with human rights work in m country. We need people like you. Keep up the great work.

  29. Pingback: Sensationalist Film Exploits Important Human Rights Issue in Iran « Muslimah Media Watch

  30. Wow. Some of the comments on this are ridiculous. Sometimes, I feel that the western world wants to see only bad movies that generalize that all "brown people" are evil. The movie was good, but it fails to explain to the undiscerning and unintelligent the differences between a horrible event and a common practice (the complete disregard of women and their rights). Stoning is a horrible horrible way to "punish" someone, but no one, including the movie, discussed how such a mob of people can respond to one man's claim and be willing to march and stone someone to death. What are the dynamics, the mental issues behind it?

    Also, it completely ignores that this habit is in the old testament. As if it is something born in Iran. Hello people? I think what people fail to understand most, is that Iran-like all "developing" countries-does NOT want change from the outside. And is completely capable of change from the inside, if we'd just leave it, and everyone else for that matter be.

  31. Wow. Some of the comments on this are ridiculous. Sometimes, I feel that the western world wants to see only bad movies that generalize that all “brown people” are evil. The movie was good, but it fails to explain to the undiscerning and unintelligent the differences between a horrible event and a common practice (the complete disregard of women and their rights). Stoning is a horrible horrible way to “punish” someone, but no one, including the movie, discussed how such a mob of people can respond to one man’s claim and be willing to march and stone someone to death. What are the dynamics, the mental issues behind it?

    Also, it completely ignores that this habit is in the old testament. As if it is something born in Iran. Hello people? I think what people fail to understand most, is that Iran-like all “developing” countries-does NOT want change from the outside. And is completely capable of change from the inside, if we’d just leave it, and everyone else for that matter be.

  32. At last .

    Of all the interesting commentators on this issue AFTER Elise, Jennifer is the first to critique the movie itself . That itself merits her recognition.

    She points to what she feels to be the film's sin of ommission — the signal silence about the CULTURE ( & a TRANSNATIONAL culture it is, not an iranian or islamic phenomenon alone, as she reminds ) where one gender is singled out for society's righteousness & frustrations.

    This sublte but unavoidable line between a single crime & an entire sociohistorical phenomenon she draws is a crucial distinction.

    What if the film had addressed this issue it had itself raised in the first place — if there was little time for a wholistic treatment, the point could perhaps have been made through comments or asides by characters in the script, enlightening side observations like you apparently find in Shakespeare.

    In the end Jennifer asks us in turn to avoid the other sin, that of commission, by protesting but NOT DIRECTLY INTERVENING in another people's problems. In the instance of iran & the moment, this is a singularly salutary suggestion.

  33. At last .

    Of all the interesting commentators on this issue AFTER Elise, Jennifer is the first to critique the movie itself . That itself merits her recognition.

    She points to what she feels to be the film’s sin of ommission — the signal silence about the CULTURE ( & a TRANSNATIONAL culture it is, not an iranian or islamic phenomenon alone, as she reminds ) where one gender is singled out for society’s righteousness & frustrations.

    This sublte but unavoidable line between a single crime & an entire sociohistorical phenomenon she draws is a crucial distinction.

    What if the film had addressed this issue it had itself raised in the first place — if there was little time for a wholistic treatment, the point could perhaps have been made through comments or asides by characters in the script, enlightening side observations like you apparently find in Shakespeare.

    In the end Jennifer asks us in turn to avoid the other sin, that of commission, by protesting but NOT DIRECTLY INTERVENING in another people’s problems. In the instance of iran & the moment, this is a singularly salutary suggestion.

  34. I saw the film and was deeply touched by it. I cannot believe things like this go on in the world. I didn't even know what a stoning really was until I saw it. Well now I do, and I think we as the United States should stop critiquing each other and do something about it. It may not be just a Muslim practice, I have heard it mentioned in the bible and in historical contents from even before Christ. However, never did I picture it to be so horrific. A film that makes people want to take action against evil acts has every kind of good intention I believe. So instead of attacking a film, we should attack the act. You are amnesty international are you not? Do something about it!

  35. I saw the film and was deeply touched by it. I cannot believe things like this go on in the world. I didn’t even know what a stoning really was until I saw it. Well now I do, and I think we as the United States should stop critiquing each other and do something about it. It may not be just a Muslim practice, I have heard it mentioned in the bible and in historical contents from even before Christ. However, never did I picture it to be so horrific. A film that makes people want to take action against evil acts has every kind of good intention I believe. So instead of attacking a film, we should attack the act. You are amnesty international are you not? Do something about it!

  36. I just watched the film last night, and saw you have a campaign to stop stoning. However then I read this review. Though I believe Miss Elise is entitled to her own opinions, I have a fear that her political stances and underlying agenda may reflect that of amnesty international. Her review is on their site and tied in with the organization itself. She, as an individual, should have chosen a blogger site to express individualist opinions. I thought this was a human rights organization. Did you shun Schindlers List or The Invisible Children because they were not completely accurate. I hope not. I hope you continue lobbying for human rights. Keep in mind though, you are representing Amnesty International and are not a film critic. Let the critics do their job and activists do theirs. I hope you remove this review for everything it stands against morally and just as humans. This is not just an Iran issue, this is a human issue.

  37. I just watched the film last night, and saw you have a campaign to stop stoning. However then I read this review. Though I believe Miss Elise is entitled to her own opinions, I have a fear that her political stances and underlying agenda may reflect that of amnesty international. Her review is on their site and tied in with the organization itself. She, as an individual, should have chosen a blogger site to express individualist opinions. I thought this was a human rights organization. Did you shun Schindlers List or The Invisible Children because they were not completely accurate. I hope not. I hope you continue lobbying for human rights. Keep in mind though, you are representing Amnesty International and are not a film critic. Let the critics do their job and activists do theirs. I hope you remove this review for everything it stands against morally and just as humans. This is not just an Iran issue, this is a human issue.

  38. Thanks to all who have left comments. I just want to respond to some of the comments that people have made. As I stated clearly in the original piece, I am not suggesting that stoning is not a serious human rights issue. What I am saying is that the film's representation of stoning is distorted and misleading. Stoning most certainly is a serious problem, even if it is quite uncommon in Iran. In the original piece I cited Amnesty International's January 2008 stoning report as well as the most recent urgent action on stoning, dating to May 29, 2009. First of all, the film is based on a book which is allegedly based on a true story. However, I have not seen any independent evidence, apart from the claims of the book's author, that the story is indeed true. The whole premise of the story is highly implausible. The husband of Soraya wants to marry a young girl and therefore Soraya gets stoned. Since Soraya's husband is such a bully, and since he has influence with the powerful men of the village, surely he would have been able to force Soraya's permission to take a second wife, or if not, to divorce her without having to return her dowry (men get custody of children), without having to resort to the elaborate plot of accusing her of adultery and hoping she will be stoned to death. Furthermore, the depiction of the stoning in the film simply does not accord with any of the stonings documented by reliable sources; again stonings take place in prison yards and are carried out by government agents, not by villagers, among other inaccuracies. But most importantly, the film portrays Iranians as primitive and mean-spirited. Unfortunately, this portrayal will likely reinforce the pre-existing and unfounded prejudices that many in the west have about Middle Eastern and Muslim societies. Also, Soraya's aunt is anxious for the tape with the account of the stoning to be taken to the west so people in the west can come in and civilize Iranians. As I stressed in my original piece, Iranian human rights activists such as Shadi Sadr have been campaigning tirelessly to end the practice of stoning, at great personal risk to themselves. Our January 2008 report on stoning contains a long section detailing the efforts of the Iranian Stop Stoning Forever campaign. As human rights activists outside of Iran, our role is to support the efforts of activists within Iran and indeed we have been asked by Iranian activists to support their campaigns. So we are not coming in and imposing our own alien values on Iranians; we are acting in solidarity with Iranians who are just as committed to the universal principles of human rights as we human rights activists outside of Iran.

  39. Thanks to all who have left comments. I just want to respond to some of the comments that people have made. As I stated clearly in the original piece, I am not suggesting that stoning is not a serious human rights issue. What I am saying is that the film’s representation of stoning is distorted and misleading. Stoning most certainly is a serious problem, even if it is quite uncommon in Iran. In the original piece I cited Amnesty International’s January 2008 stoning report as well as the most recent urgent action on stoning, dating to May 29, 2009. First of all, the film is based on a book which is allegedly based on a true story. However, I have not seen any independent evidence, apart from the claims of the book’s author, that the story is indeed true. The whole premise of the story is highly implausible. The husband of Soraya wants to marry a young girl and therefore Soraya gets stoned. Since Soraya’s husband is such a bully, and since he has influence with the powerful men of the village, surely he would have been able to force Soraya’s permission to take a second wife, or if not, to divorce her without having to return her dowry (men get custody of children), without having to resort to the elaborate plot of accusing her of adultery and hoping she will be stoned to death. Furthermore, the depiction of the stoning in the film simply does not accord with any of the stonings documented by reliable sources; again stonings take place in prison yards and are carried out by government agents, not by villagers, among other inaccuracies. But most importantly, the film portrays Iranians as primitive and mean-spirited. Unfortunately, this portrayal will likely reinforce the pre-existing and unfounded prejudices that many in the west have about Middle Eastern and Muslim societies. Also, Soraya’s aunt is anxious for the tape with the account of the stoning to be taken to the west so people in the west can come in and civilize Iranians. As I stressed in my original piece, Iranian human rights activists such as Shadi Sadr have been campaigning tirelessly to end the practice of stoning, at great personal risk to themselves. Our January 2008 report on stoning contains a long section detailing the efforts of the Iranian Stop Stoning Forever campaign. As human rights activists outside of Iran, our role is to support the efforts of activists within Iran and indeed we have been asked by Iranian activists to support their campaigns. So we are not coming in and imposing our own alien values on Iranians; we are acting in solidarity with Iranians who are just as committed to the universal principles of human rights as we human rights activists outside of Iran.

  40. I'm disappointed that Amnesty would publish such a review. It must be very disheartening to the people in Iran working against stoning. I expected more from Amnesty than saying it's worse to portray humans who would stone another human as "primitive and blood-thirsty savages" than to remain silent in the face of such evil and injustice. I can't see the movie as an indictment of Iranian society in toto. It's about an event in an isolated village, not a national pastime. If Amnesty's opinion is that crude story-telling, a woman smoking cigarettes, and a villager being able to speak English take away the film-maker's right and/or ability to tell a true story about injustice, then they are not really as against stoning as they claim to be. Perhaps defending the "civilized and justice-loving humanists" who stoned Soraya M. is a higher priority for AI now. Sad indeed.

  41. I’m disappointed that Amnesty would publish such a review. It must be very disheartening to the people in Iran working against stoning. I expected more from Amnesty than saying it’s worse to portray humans who would stone another human as “primitive and blood-thirsty savages” than to remain silent in the face of such evil and injustice. I can’t see the movie as an indictment of Iranian society in toto. It’s about an event in an isolated village, not a national pastime. If Amnesty’s opinion is that crude story-telling, a woman smoking cigarettes, and a villager being able to speak English take away the film-maker’s right and/or ability to tell a true story about injustice, then they are not really as against stoning as they claim to be. Perhaps defending the “civilized and justice-loving humanists” who stoned Soraya M. is a higher priority for AI now. Sad indeed.

  42. Elise-

    Congrats on standing tough to all those critical of your critique..though I agree with some of the points made by your critics and some of yours.

    I want to point to something that jumped out to me. I have not seen the film, but according to you the film portayed all Iranians as primitive and mean-spirited and it's representation of stoning is distorted and misleading.

    Some of your issues with the film are the very same issues I take with AI, much of the agenda driven liberal media, certain politicians, popular culture and other human right organizations.

    I'm talking about the half-truths and complete lies, the twisted, distorted and misleading information fed to the public about Guantanamo Bay and the war on terror. It is so bad…John Q. Public still believes hundreds of the detainees at GITMO are being tortured, water-boarded, and live 24/7 in tiny individual cells. None of which is true…and if the general population was fed the whole truth they would know a total of 3 high ranking al-qaeda members (including khalid sheikh mohammed) was ever waterboarded by the CIA. They would know the information that was revealed and the planned attacks that were avoided. They would know that the detainees that do not pose a threat are living in open bay barracks and a majority of detainees do not want to return to the native nations or even Palau.

    It would be nice if activists, journalists, "documentary" movie makers, etc… told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let people have the unfiltered/unspun truth and let them make up there own minds.

  43. Elise-

    Congrats on standing tough to all those critical of your critique..though I agree with some of the points made by your critics and some of yours.

    I want to point to something that jumped out to me. I have not seen the film, but according to you the film portayed all Iranians as primitive and mean-spirited and it’s representation of stoning is distorted and misleading.

    Some of your issues with the film are the very same issues I take with AI, much of the agenda driven liberal media, certain politicians, popular culture and other human right organizations.

    I’m talking about the half-truths and complete lies, the twisted, distorted and misleading information fed to the public about Guantanamo Bay and the war on terror. It is so bad…John Q. Public still believes hundreds of the detainees at GITMO are being tortured, water-boarded, and live 24/7 in tiny individual cells. None of which is true…and if the general population was fed the whole truth they would know a total of 3 high ranking al-qaeda members (including khalid sheikh mohammed) was ever waterboarded by the CIA. They would know the information that was revealed and the planned attacks that were avoided. They would know that the detainees that do not pose a threat are living in open bay barracks and a majority of detainees do not want to return to the native nations or even Palau.

    It would be nice if activists, journalists, “documentary” movie makers, etc… told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Let people have the unfiltered/unspun truth and let them make up there own minds.

  44. Elise,

    You are doing a fantastic job on Iran. That country is a shining paradise of human rights! There are no illegal detentions or executions and certainly the leaders of Iran don't sponsor terrorism and murder in Lebanon or anywhere else. There certainly are no people in Iran who use religion as an excuse to treat women unfairly and deny them human rights.

    I think you're work is done. Now you should start working against the Great Satan of the USA which is imprisoning freedom fighters and waterboarding people.

    Michael

  45. Elise,

    You are doing a fantastic job on Iran. That country is a shining paradise of human rights! There are no illegal detentions or executions and certainly the leaders of Iran don’t sponsor terrorism and murder in Lebanon or anywhere else. There certainly are no people in Iran who use religion as an excuse to treat women unfairly and deny them human rights.

    I think you’re work is done. Now you should start working against the Great Satan of the USA which is imprisoning freedom fighters and waterboarding people.

    Michael

  46. Pingback: Sensationalism and Stereotypes « Caledoniyya

  47. Ms. Auerbach –

    You've evidently touched a nerve, in your sound criticisms of this film. You and Amnesty International have been sorely criticized on The Huffington Post, for instance, by what appear to be a number of "spoof" users (some with quasi-Persian names!), all of whom have _only_ commented on the subject of The Stoning of Soraya M. So it seems that even attacks on Amnesty International are a part of the "viral" campaign for the film.

    MPower Pictures, the conservative-affiliated producer of the film (previously producer of the wretched "satire" An American Carol) has done loads of publicity, and is pushing the film as something like an urgent documentary statement on human rights–which is peculiar, because American conservatives aren't especially known to look past their wonted xenophobia and nationalism, to champion the cause of human rights under authoritarian governments. (Not before the advent of Operation Desert Storm, I should say.)

  48. OH MY!!!! I want to know how we can help to stop any of the stonings that happen in these countries.. Will someone please share where we can do something or whatever where we can help get this stopped? I can not believe that A.I. is giving this comment. So how can people help out here with this issue of stoning?? Point is rather the movie is overdone or not it happens and needs stopped…mary

  49. Ms. Auerbach -

    You’ve evidently touched a nerve, in your sound criticisms of this film. You and Amnesty International have been sorely criticized on The Huffington Post, for instance, by what appear to be a number of “spoof” users (some with quasi-Persian names!), all of whom have _only_ commented on the subject of The Stoning of Soraya M. So it seems that even attacks on Amnesty International are a part of the “viral” campaign for the film.

    MPower Pictures, the conservative-affiliated producer of the film (previously producer of the wretched “satire” An American Carol) has done loads of publicity, and is pushing the film as something like an urgent documentary statement on human rights–which is peculiar, because American conservatives aren’t especially known to look past their wonted xenophobia and nationalism, to champion the cause of human rights under authoritarian governments. (Not before the advent of Operation Desert Storm, I should say.)

  50. OH MY!!!! I want to know how we can help to stop any of the stonings that happen in these countries.. Will someone please share where we can do something or whatever where we can help get this stopped? I can not believe that A.I. is giving this comment. So how can people help out here with this issue of stoning?? Point is rather the movie is overdone or not it happens and needs stopped…mary

  51. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  52. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  53. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  54. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/uaa07108.pdf to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/uaa17509.pdf to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  55. It is difficult to comprehend why an organization that is concerned with human rights would rip this movie. Ms. Auerbach states that people may get the wrong idea about the rights of women in Iran. She also speaks of the "frustrations experienced by women in Iran" and admits that there are numerous hangings which are the result of dubious legal practices. Rapes, shootings, hangings, and stonings are far more serious than mere frustrations and to characterize what happens to women in Iranian society as frustrations trivializes the horror.. One needs to look no further than at the events occurring in Iran today to realize that it is a country oppressed by religious zealots who will resort to violence and murder to maintain control. Shame on Amnesty International for trying to silence this movie. Spend more time on condemning Iran and no time reviewing movies.

  56. It is difficult to comprehend why an organization that is concerned with human rights would rip this movie. Ms. Auerbach states that people may get the wrong idea about the rights of women in Iran. She also speaks of the “frustrations experienced by women in Iran” and admits that there are numerous hangings which are the result of dubious legal practices. Rapes, shootings, hangings, and stonings are far more serious than mere frustrations and to characterize what happens to women in Iranian society as frustrations trivializes the horror.. One needs to look no further than at the events occurring in Iran today to realize that it is a country oppressed by religious zealots who will resort to violence and murder to maintain control. Shame on Amnesty International for trying to silence this movie. Spend more time on condemning Iran and no time reviewing movies.

  57. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  58. Wow! Maybe AI should check its facts before coming to such a impassioned defense of the poor Iranian regime, so badly maligned by this movie. I am someone who has encountered the full brutality of the regime in its early days, the blood-thirsty mobs, the righteous mullahs, the thuggish Revolutionary Guards and Komitehs, and I can assure you that there is nothing crude about the depiction of the movies characters. Watching from afar, you can afford to pass judgment, but you are doing a disservice to the people of Iran, so shame on AI

  59. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  60. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/ua… to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  61. Wow! Maybe AI should check its facts before coming to such a impassioned defense of the poor Iranian regime, so badly maligned by this movie. I am someone who has encountered the full brutality of the regime in its early days, the blood-thirsty mobs, the righteous mullahs, the thuggish Revolutionary Guards and Komitehs, and I can assure you that there is nothing crude about the depiction of the movies characters. Watching from afar, you can afford to pass judgment, but you are doing a disservice to the people of Iran, so shame on AI

  62. Dear Mary:

    Thanks for asking what you can do to stop executions in Iran. Iran executes more people than any other country except for China. Iran is also the only country in the world that continues to execute juvenile offenders. Delara Darabi was executed by hanging on May 1, 2009 of a murder, that she may well not have committed, that occurred when she was just 17. This execution was particularly heart-breaking for the many activists who campaigned so tirelessly for her. She had received a two-month stay of execution just about two weeks before she was hanged. Please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/uaa07108.pdf to take action on behalf of another juvenile offender who could be executed as early as July 16. Mohammad Reza Haddadi was sentenced to death for a crime which he allegedly committed when he was only 15 years old. You can also go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/uaa17509.pdf to take action on the case of courageous Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei who has represented at least 25 juvenile offenders sentenced to death in Iran. He was arrested in the wake of the post-June 12 election crackdown. He was released on bail but still faces serious charges. Thank you for taking action on these important cases.

    Elise Auerbach
    Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist

  63. Hi Elise,

    After three weeks of imprisonment in Iran, GlobalPost correspondent Iason Athanasiadis is finally speaking out, writing of Iranian journalists and friends who remain in jail. Iason was one of many journalists reporting on the protests in Iran who have subsequently been arrested and imprisoned on bogus charges by the increasingly paranoid Iranian government.
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/middle-east/09

    What do you think of what he has to say?

  64. Hi Elise,

    After three weeks of imprisonment in Iran, GlobalPost correspondent Iason Athanasiadis is finally speaking out, writing of Iranian journalists and friends who remain in jail. Iason was one of many journalists reporting on the protests in Iran who have subsequently been arrested and imprisoned on bogus charges by the increasingly paranoid Iranian government.
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/middle-east/09

    What do you think of what he has to say?

  65. Hi Elise,

    After three weeks of imprisonment in Iran, GlobalPost correspondent Iason Athanasiadis is finally speaking out, writing of Iranian journalists and friends who remain in jail. Iason was one of many journalists reporting on the protests in Iran who have subsequently been arrested and imprisoned on bogus charges by the increasingly paranoid Iranian government.
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/middle-east/09

    What do you think of what he has to say?

  66. Hi Elise,

    After three weeks of imprisonment in Iran, GlobalPost correspondent Iason Athanasiadis is finally speaking out, writing of Iranian journalists and friends who remain in jail. Iason was one of many journalists reporting on the protests in Iran who have subsequently been arrested and imprisoned on bogus charges by the increasingly paranoid Iranian government.

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/middle-east/090714/iran-cracks-down-press

    What do you think of what he has to say?

  67. This world is a sick world full of evil things and as human beings move away from God everyday we are going to see more suffering. The west always want to portray itself as human rights protector. In real life, they are the ones which sponsor human rights violations by helping dictators cling to their position. Example France supported the Gabonian dictator to stay in power for more than 30 years and now they are on the verge of crowing another dictator. And when the west appear to be genuine to remove a dictator, they often make the situation worse – Example Zimbabwe. The Iranian case is not different from Zimbabwe. Things would have been different if the approach of the western world was friendly to the Iranian government. No one needs to be told that stoning is bad if he/she is human.

    Organizations like Amnesty International can only reveal injustice and fixing falls again on governments which unfortunately are not in a position to address problems but to be make it worse.

  68. This world is a sick world full of evil things and as human beings move away from God everyday we are going to see more suffering. The west always want to portray itself as human rights protector. In real life, they are the ones which sponsor human rights violations by helping dictators cling to their position. Example France supported the Gabonian dictator to stay in power for more than 30 years and now they are on the verge of crowing another dictator. And when the west appear to be genuine to remove a dictator, they often make the situation worse – Example Zimbabwe. The Iranian case is not different from Zimbabwe. Things would have been different if the approach of the western world was friendly to the Iranian government. No one needs to be told that stoning is bad if he/she is human.

    Organizations like Amnesty International can only reveal injustice and fixing falls again on governments which unfortunately are not in a position to address problems but to be make it worse.

  69. Hello Elise,

    Thank you for writing this piece. I have not seen the movie nor have I read the book, but I am a student of Middle Eastern Studies and a relatively experienced activist with Amnesty International. While I am not able to agree or disagree with your opinion of the movie, I just would like to point out that there is an entire area of study devoted to this issue. It's called Orientalism.

    It is the idea that people in the Middle East are portrayed in a way which simplifies their culture and depicts them as brutal, uncreative, and in need of rescuing. This theory claims that this inaccurate portrayal has been going on for centuries (since colonialism) through popular media. At first, it was through artwork and poetry; now it is through the news media, books, and movies. For example, a book was published a few years ago called "Reel Bad Arabs" which documents the use of film to continue a negative stereotype of people in the Middle East.

    In other words, while it may sound strange to criticize a movie that touches on such a terrible and sensitive subject, your point may not only be completely valid but is likely to be agreed upon by scholars of the region.

    I will definitely see the movie while keeping your points in mind. In the meantime, I hope those who disagree continue to post their thoughts. I also hope that they are able to do so respectfully. We are all human rights activists here. We should be above some of the nasty sarcasm and personal attacks ("failed human being") that we have seen here.

    Peace,
    Ashley

  70. Hello Elise,

    Thank you for writing this piece. I have not seen the movie nor have I read the book, but I am a student of Middle Eastern Studies and a relatively experienced activist with Amnesty International. While I am not able to agree or disagree with your opinion of the movie, I just would like to point out that there is an entire area of study devoted to this issue. It’s called Orientalism.

    It is the idea that people in the Middle East are portrayed in a way which simplifies their culture and depicts them as brutal, uncreative, and in need of rescuing. This theory claims that this inaccurate portrayal has been going on for centuries (since colonialism) through popular media. At first, it was through artwork and poetry; now it is through the news media, books, and movies. For example, a book was published a few years ago called “Reel Bad Arabs” which documents the use of film to continue a negative stereotype of people in the Middle East.

    In other words, while it may sound strange to criticize a movie that touches on such a terrible and sensitive subject, your point may not only be completely valid but is likely to be agreed upon by scholars of the region.

    I will definitely see the movie while keeping your points in mind. In the meantime, I hope those who disagree continue to post their thoughts. I also hope that they are able to do so respectfully. We are all human rights activists here. We should be above some of the nasty sarcasm and personal attacks (“failed human being”) that we have seen here.

    Peace,
    Ashley

  71. You people are all banging your heads against the wall.Nothing will change until the truth comes out that all religions,royal houses governments,militaries and polices are imposed factions therefore all are terrorist and criminal organizations.They are all of the same origin and are connected regardless of the names they use.The evidence screams to be listened to throughout our human history.The last of their cultural genocides is now taking place in Africa.They have been in control for thousands of years.We are now all born to,identify with and enslaved within them,(Stockholm Syndrome).Their terrorist threat of Armageddon is real but it is not we are taught to believe it to be.Armageddon is for the total destruction of all Life through us as we try to emulate them,biggest houses etc..I have written a book about this living nightmare.If you are interested in reading it give me an address.I have sent it to many places and everyone is affraid of it.No one is talking That's how easy it is to control humanity(fear).Media won't expose them as they are controlled by them.It is covertly known as the conspiracy of silence.If you chose not to read it,then stop complainig about our global human condition as you will enable them to force us down their road to Armageddon.There will be no future to offer to the young.

  72. You people are all banging your heads against the wall.Nothing will change until the truth comes out that all religions,royal houses governments,militaries and polices are imposed factions therefore all are terrorist and criminal organizations.They are all of the same origin and are connected regardless of the names they use.The evidence screams to be listened to throughout our human history.The last of their cultural genocides is now taking place in Africa.They have been in control for thousands of years.We are now all born to,identify with and enslaved within them,(Stockholm Syndrome).Their terrorist threat of Armageddon is real but it is not we are taught to believe it to be.Armageddon is for the total destruction of all Life through us as we try to emulate them,biggest houses etc..I have written a book about this living nightmare.If you are interested in reading it give me an address.I have sent it to many places and everyone is affraid of it.No one is talking That’s how easy it is to control humanity(fear).Media won’t expose them as they are controlled by them.It is covertly known as the conspiracy of silence.If you chose not to read it,then stop complainig about our global human condition as you will enable them to force us down their road to Armageddon.There will be no future to offer to the young.

  73. PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Suspected Islamist militants blew up a girls middle school climax to the mains urban district in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, watch said. The public school was empty at the habits of the lay waste and no one was injured.

    A timed perilous gubbins is believed to be suffering with caused the paddy that mischievously damaged the institute on the outskirts of Peshawar, buy cheap Viagra now constabulary officer Hamdullah Khan said.

  74. PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Suspected Islamist militants blew up a girls middle school climax to the mains urban district in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, watch said. The public school was empty at the habits of the lay waste and no one was injured.

    A timed perilous gubbins is believed to be suffering with caused the paddy that mischievously damaged the institute on the outskirts of Peshawar, buy cheap Viagra now constabulary officer Hamdullah Khan said.

  75. PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Suspected Islamist militants blew up a girls middle school climax to the mains urban district in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, watch said. The public school was empty at the habits of the lay waste and no one was injured.

    A timed perilous gubbins is believed to be suffering with caused the paddy that mischievously damaged the institute on the outskirts of Peshawar, buy cheap Viagra now constabulary officer Hamdullah Khan said.

  76. PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Suspected Islamist militants blew up a girls middle school climax to the mains urban district in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, watch said. The public school was empty at the habits of the lay waste and no one was injured.

    A timed perilous gubbins is believed to be suffering with caused the paddy that mischievously damaged the institute on the outskirts of Peshawar, buy cheap Viagra now constabulary officer Hamdullah Khan said.

  77. Pingback: Muslimah Media Watch » Sensationalist Film Exploits Important Human Rights Issue in Iran

  78. Elise, I'm not sure if you realize that the movie does not indict Iranian society any more than Amnesty International intervening in unjust executions suggests that no one in Iran can campaign in someone's defense except with your help. It is clear that international attention is needed on such sensitive and disturbing issues and pubic opinion has gone a long way in assisting activists within Iran but you really do a disservice when you insinuate the West feels it has to save Iranian society from itself. Stop being so condescending and accept that we are outraged at the system that created the problem, not the good people of Iran.