Reading Lolita coverReading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi (c) 2003

Host: Bill

Date: December 2007

Judges’ Score: TBD

Food & Drink: Pizza and Beer

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2 Responses to “#11 – Reading Lolita in Tehran”


  1. 1 Bill B. December 6, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    This Associate Press article struck me as a good illustration of the mindset that Nafisi exposes within the Islamic Republic of Iran. Why is Iran an “axis of evil” while Saudi Arabia is our “ally?” See the response of “the administration” (read: those speaking for the citizens of the United States; read: YOU) near the end of the article.

    Saudis defend punishment for rape victim

    The Saudi judiciary on Tuesday defended a court verdict that sentenced a 19-year-old victim of a gang rape to six months in jail and 200 lashes because she was with an unrelated male when they were attacked.

    The Shiite Muslim woman had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicted of violating Saudi Arabia’s rigid Islamic law requiring segregation of the sexes.
    But in considering her appeal of the verdict, the Saudi General Court increased the punishment. It also roughly doubled prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping the woman, Saudi news media said last week.

    The reports triggered an international outcry over the Saudis punishing the victim of a terrible crime.

    But the Ministry of Justice stood by the verdict Tuesday, saying that “charges were proven” against the woman for having been in a car with a man who was not her relative.
    The ministry implied the victim’s sentence was increased because she spoke out to the press. “For whoever has an objection on verdicts issued, the system allows an appeal without resorting to the media,” said the statement, which was carried on the official Saudi Press Agency.

    The attack occurred in 2006. The victim says she was in a car with a male student she used to know trying to retrieve a picture of her. She says two men got into the car and drove them to a secluded area where she was raped by seven men. Her friend also was assaulted.

    Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts according to the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

    Judges have wide discretion in punishing criminals, rules of evidence are vague and sometimes no defense lawyer is present. The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges. A rapist, for instance, could receive anywhere from a light sentence to death.

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack avoided directly criticizing the Saudi judiciary over the case, but said the verdict “causes a fair degree of surprise and astonishment.”
    “It is within the power of the Saudi government to take a look at the verdict and change it,” McCormack said.

    Canada’s minister for women’s issues, Jose Verger, has called the sentence “barbaric.”

    The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the verdict “not only sends victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press charges, but in effect offers protection and impunity to the perpetrators.”

  2. 2 bobbyjones December 7, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Yeah – I wonder if Sean McCormack would use the word suprise and astonished after being raped 7 times. You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.

    We still need to have a bout on religion. The current book, along with the release of the movie “The Golden Compass” where the Magisterium represents the Catholic church (therefore, being boycotted by some Catholic groups), and Mit Romney’s speech on Mormonism (25,000 words, he only used the word Mormon once, 25% of voters – especially amongst evangelicals in Iowa – won’t vote for a Mormon). Romney said, “it wouldn’t be tolerance if we only tolerated the religious views with which we agree.” Strange that a candidate for president of the United States has to ask for its citizens to tolerate his religion – the word tolerate seems to conote some kind of grudge.

    What is the role of religion in modern soceity? Do they cause more harm than good? Over the centuries, have organized religions been engines for oppression and fanaticism?


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