Sakineh, Ahmadinejad, and the "Insolents"

And so Iran is backing down. The Islamic Republic does it in its own way, tortuously, but it is backing down. And that is what is evident in two stands made public this morning, after the new stay of execution accorded Sakineh under the pressure of public opinion and of the chancelleries.

The first comes from the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manouchehr Mottaki, telling his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner that "the authorities of justice had not pronounced the final verdict in the affair concerning Sakineh Ashtiani" -- a discreet, to say the least, way of making one (temporarily) forget the letter addressed by the Supreme Court of Tehran to the application of sentences office of Tabriz prison instructing that the young woman be executed as rapidly as possible.

And the second, from M. Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported by the Isna press agency, regrets that the Westerners have the "insolence" to transform "the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who has committed crimes and is guilty of betrayal, an affair of human rights". What insolence, indeed, M. Mehmanparast insists, to have made of "her case a symbol of the liberty of women" and to "use a simple case (the criminal law case) as a means of pressure against Iran".

Ah, what a lovely way to express things. And how elegantly put the ire of the Iranian government. Fortunate "insolence", in any event! Happy mobilization that has transformed Sakineh's face into a global icon, a symbol, and thus put off, for the time being, the date of her expected death!

For me, of course, the struggle continues. It continues even more than ever. For a stay of execution is not a pardon. And, lamentably, execution of the sentence can still occur, and at any moment. We must keep up the pressure. There must be increasingly more citizens--signing, for example, the petition of La Règle du Jeu-who express their solidarity with the young woman unjustly condemned and, of course, with her son, Sajjad.

Let's not give in.

Let's continue to be "insolent".

Bernard-Henri Lévy