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The Stoning of Soraya M.: A True Story Paperback – January 12, 1995


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The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This resonant book portrays the ugliness of fundamentalist Islamic mob justice in Khomeini-era Iran. Sahebjam, an Iranian journalist based in France who has written critically of the regime, returned to his homeland under cover in 1986. While visiting a small town he calls Kupayeh, he learned how an innocent 35-year-old woman had been stoned to death for supposed infidelity. His thorough reporting, based on a further visit to the village, reconstructs Soraya's life and killing with much dialogue and interior monologue. Soraya gave birth to nine children in 14 years and her husband Ghorban-Ali also turned to prostitutes. He became involved in shady business deals and began to associate with Sheik Hassan, a criminal who was appointed Ayatollah Khomeini's local representative. When Ghorban-Ali, having fallen in love with another woman, accused his wife of infidelity, villagers lied to aid him and Soraya was left with no support in the town. Her two eldest sons sat on the male tribunal that declared her guilty, and she was stoned by a mob that included her father. This book refuses to let such horror go unremembered.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-While Sahebjam, an expatriated Iranian journalist, was in his native land on assignment for a French publication in 1986, he recorded this account. Zahra Khanum is an old woman whose niece Soraya was but one of over 1,000 people who were stoned to death in Iran in the last 15 years. Set solidly in a fundamentalist village, the story of Soraya's less-than-honorable husband; the false mullah, Sheik Hassan; and the events leading up to her stoning are relayed. The manipulation of government, church, and society by dishonorable persons; the lack of proof and villagers' support to save Soraya; and the mob mentality of the townspeople on the fateful day are all made clear. Students, parents, and teachers might want to discuss this work with Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," or with historical events such as the Holocaust or the Salem witch trails. A powerful work that should generate thought in all of its readers.
Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (January 12, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559702702
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559702706
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,518,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

It is a very sad story that brought me to tears.
CW
It is barbaric to treat women this way and this book makes sure that we are all aware of the practice.
Grandma Frankie
A fast read and an excellent book to gain insight into a culture that represses women still.
fiver cockers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 88 people found the following review helpful By JBJ on January 17, 2009
There are many Western countries today under the impression that Sharia Law, or Islamic Law, is a system of justice and impartiality. In truth, the whole concept of Sharia Law entirely benefits men; even falsely accused, women have little recourse but to submit. Under the Sharia, raped women are forced to provide witnesses to prove their innocence.

This book perfectly illustrates how easily such barbaric, outdated systems of 'justice' destroy innocent lives. The accused are guilty until proven innocent. Witnesses can be purchased. A man's testimony is worth more than a woman's, so even when he lies, the burden of proof is on the victim. True justice is non-existent.

The story of Soraya M. is heartbreaking. But the real tragedy is that it is repeated over and over in Islamic societies. Hopefully, this book will help expose the truth behind the oppression of women in the Middle East.
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91 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Kendra on June 24, 2009
I have mixed feelings about this book. I didn't "enjoy" it, but who enjoys reading about stonings and murder and misogyny and injustice? It wasn't perfectly written. And, much of it is the victim's aunt's and the writer's interpretation of thoughts rather than Soraya's actual thoughts.

Still, it's a decent book and the stoning description is very graphic. That in itself, is good. For too long westerners have continued to close their eyes to the horrors of sharia law.

What I found to be the biggest fault with the book was the description on the back of the book. It reads, "She was punished to death by stoning-- a punishment officially prohibited by Islam but widely practiced." Nope. This isn't true. At all. It isn't true at all.

Stoning is part of sharia law. Sharia law is Islamic law and stoning is specifically permitted. From Muslim Hadith no. 4206: And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al--Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her . . .

And, from the Koran itself: Sura 24:2: The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah's law.

So, if Muhammad did it, it's the perfect thing to do, according to Islam. Muhammad was the perfect example for humanity and must be emulated.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 1999
Well written, factual and horrific account of how, in many countries today, religion has been twisted to suit the needs of certain people, namely men. Having lived in a few Muslim countries, I can factually state that this sort of event is not that uncommon. It is, however, uncommon, and most likely unknown in the Western world. The reason this book is so good is that hopefully it will bring more exposure to what is happening in these third world countries. Maybe by exposing it more and more, it will, eventually, be eradicated.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. Cosentino on August 3, 2010
A culture that approves of men having sex with young girls, and a complete lack of women's rights, and the sick brutal act of stoning to death, is a severely evil and dysfunctional culture. And you are defending it. Shame on you and every Islamic woman that somehow sees fit to take that position.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dan E. Nicholas on June 12, 2011
How do you give five stars to a book on a small town execution? Freidoune Sahebjam has written an insightful and brave account of an event unimaginable to most of us. I found this book helpful in showing me once again what a deadly infection fundamentalism can become and how this sickness can overtake an entire town in one afternoon. Indeed, to value purity over simple things like life and love and truth will always lead to death and heartache. Even more so if God is mixed in. This is the message of Sahebjam's book.

This paperback can be read in one sitting and was penned by a French born and raised son of an Iranian Ambassador. It remains to this day a banned book in Iran, a country and culture not that far removed from a similar but different ethnic cleansing style fundamentalism I saw in Israel, Egypt and Palestine this week where I finished this book and wrote this review while on pilgrimage, amidst a backdrop of guns and soldiers and a chopper overhead. Muslims killing Christians and burning churches in nearby Egypt while we were there. Same old same old. We took in some 7,000 Jewish soldiers pointing assault rifles at Palestinians in the Holy Land, in Jerusalem, near the Western Wall, not far from the site and on the same day one Palestinian youth was shot and killed as I just learned from an airport monitor. We heard the gunfire over the wall. 34 were arrested; 12 killed the day we took off. Same old same old. Sad.

But back to our small town in 1979. Soraya was a mother and wife married to an archetypal creep of a man who went so far as to bring to his own house prostitutes in order to insult his wife and offload his marriage; a man unwilling to count the cost of an honorable divorce.
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