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They Are Not Like Us
by John David Powell
31 May 2003

Nigeria is one of seven countries, all Muslim, that either engages in state-sponsored stoning or allows it as part of shariah law. As late as February of this year, a 13-year-old Pakistani girl was mutilated and stoned for dancing at a wedding.

Islamic Crescent

The May 5 edition of New Zealand’s Timaru Herald carried a story of the stoning to death of four ducks by four boys the previous weekend. The newspaper quoted an unidentified man who said that when he tried to stop the boys, one of them responded, “But we’re only killing them with rocks.”

These boys are not like the boys I knew while growing up in a small Illinois town where the worst thing one did with stones was to toss them through greenhouse windows or at streetlights.
The Associated Press reported on April 14 that angry villagers in San Juan Chamula, in southern Mexico, stoned to death a man for practicing witchcraft. After killing him, the villagers hacked up his body with machetes before setting it on fire.

Witch-burning Mexicans are not like the folks I see every day who do not use rocks, blades and fire in the superstitious elimination of those they fear. Unfounded rumor and innuendo are the weapons of choice among the college-educated crowd.

A few days ago, I received an email purportedly from a branch of Amnesty International soliciting my name to an email petition calling on the Nigerian government to stop the stoning of Amina Lawal, 31, convicted of adultery last year by a Muslim court. About five million individuals responded to the request, I have since learned.

Some problems exist with the petition, however. Amnesty International disavows any knowledge of the drive, and June 3 is the date for Lawal’s next court appeal, not her execution.

In a further confusing twist, the Nigerian group Baobab for Women’s Rights insists that misguided and misinformed campaigns such as this one risk damaging the credibility of local human rights groups, not to mention really ticking off local officials who do not like meddling by international do-gooders.

Nigeria is one of seven countries, all Muslim, that either engages in state-sponsored stoning or allows it as part of shariah law. The others include Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Sudan. As late as February of this year, a 13-year-old Pakistani girl was mutilated and stoned for dancing at a wedding.

U.S. lawmakers agree that these people are not like us. The House of Representatives in March, by a 416-0 vote, passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), that denounces stoning as a gross violation of human rights.

This issue is not new to Capitol Hill. On Feb. 25, 1998, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY, showed a smuggled video of a public stoning in Iran. A copy of the 15-minute tape is online at Apostates of It is a gruesome account, and should not be viewed by the merely curious or those easily sickened by terrifying images of torture.

About five minutes into the tape we see a group of men carrying an individual in a sheet to the center of the plaza, and we watch as they transform the sheet into a death shroud. They carefully place the mummy-like figure into a hole as if transplanting a tree in someone’s yard.

At about seven minutes into the tape, handlers place a second person into another hole. This raw video shows us the backs of people as the photographer walks around looking for a clear view of the gruesome scene of death. About 30 seconds later, hundreds of men, mostly members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, crowd into a circle around the condemned. Then the stoning begins, seemingly spontaneously.

We watch the eerie site of two white figures writhing as stones hit them. A man walks up to one shroud and pelts it with rocks. The camera zooms in on the bloodied lump surrounded by stones. The camera pans to the other individual. The cover is knocked off, he is face down, his head is bathed in blood.

The tape jumps to the scene of a third person brought in, shrouded. He stands stock still as ghastly gardeners plant him in the hole.

Dirt is shoveled into the hole around the fourth individual, who bends at the waist. Feet tamp the dirt around him, making sure all is snug.

The circle of death reforms as the man with the shovel makes his final tamps. The crowd chants in agitated anticipation.

The stoning begins with lusty yells. It is a frenzied scene devoid of humanity. Scores of stones fly quickly and strike horribly. The shroud around one head explodes into red. The two ghostly figures totter. One falls forward only to be pelted backward.

The camera zooms in. The man on the right writhes as his shroud comes loose. We see his bloody torso struck by stones. We see him struggle as the pile of stones grows around him. We see the circle contract slowly until fewer than five feet separate the murderous men from the objects of their execution.

Stone throwers stand close enough to caress their victims. But they do not. Instead, they pick up more stones and fling them with all their might.

The condemned continue to writhe, to fall over, to sit back up, to fall back over. One goes suddenly still. The other rises, almost defiantly in the face of hard death.

Now the crowd stands within inches. Men pick up rocks as quickly as they can, in some macabre competition to see who will cast the last stone in the deliverance of Allah’s justice.

Both figures are still. The crowd disperses. I recall the New Zealand boys who justified their actions by saying they only killed them with rocks. These Muslim men would appreciate the sentiments, because they are not like us.

Mundus vult decipi

John David Powell is an award-winning writer and Internet columnist, professional speechwriter, and contributor to the Christian Millennium History Project. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.  Published originally at; republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.

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