Mounting pressure on Iran to spare Ashtiani's life



Iran is under mounting international pressure to spare the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an illiterate widow and mother of two sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery charge that she denies.

Her son has issued desperate warnings that the execution of his "innocent mother" could be imminent. Sajad Ghaderzadeh, 22, fears that her delayed sentence could be carried out soon after Ramadan ends in Iran on Friday - and has beseeched the world to intercede. Paris has been the most vocal world power to respond. Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister, has offered to fly to Tehran to plead for the release of Ashtiani, 43, declaring that her case had become a "personal cause". Her 2006 stoning sentence was the "height of barbarity", he said on Monday.

Mr Kouchner's dramatic intercession was echoed yesterday by Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, who said: "We condemn such acts, which have no justification under any moral or religious code ? This is barbaric beyond words." The Vatican, meanwhile, indicated on Sunday that it was prepared to appeal diplomatically to Iran to spare Ashtiani's life. And Italy, which has strong economic relations with Tehran, urged the Iranian authorities to consider "an act of clemency".

The global outcry has stung the Iranian regime, which warned foreign countries yesterday against interfering in its legal system and turning the affair into a human-rights issue. "If releasing all those who have committed murder is to be perceived as a human-rights issue, then all European countries should release all the murderers in their countries," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Rahim Mehmanpararast, defiantly said at a Tehran news conference.

Asthtiani was acquitted in 2006 of complicity in her husband's murder a year earlier. But smarting from the international backlash, the Iranian authorities recently claimed she was an accomplice in her husband's murder. Her lawyers promptly accused the regime of inventing new charges. In a new twist, Ashtiani's lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, said on Monday that she received 99 lashes last week as punishment for the mistaken publication by The Times of London of a picture that was said to be of her.

Despite a swift correction by the British daily newspaper, a judge in the city of Tabriz, near the Ashtiani family's hometown of Osku in northern Iran, was said to have ordered the whipping for "spreading corruption and indecency". Ashtiani's alleged new sin? The pictured woman was not wearing a headscarf: under Iran's clerical rule, women must cover their hair in public. Mr Ghazerzadeh, 22, said the photograph was an excuse to punish his mother and that the hardline Iranian government's real purpose was to silence the international campaign to save her.

If so, the new penalty, which has not been confirmed by the Iranian authorities, failed miserably in its aim. Members of the European parliament are today due to vote on a resolution criticising Iran's human-rights record and calling for an end to stoning and the death penalty. Ashtiani has been subjected to several terrifying mock executions, both by stoning and by hanging, Iranian human-rights activists say.

Mr Ghazerzadeh, then just 17, chose to witness his mother's original flogging because he did not want her to suffer the terrifying and humiliating experience alone. Speaking by mobile phone from Tabriz to a press conference in Paris on Monday, he said: "Ramadan is coming to an end and, according to Islamic law executions [which are suspended during the holy month] can resume." He called in particular on Brazil and Turkey, Tehran's allies, to intervene.

"The possibility of stoning still exists, any moment," Mr Ghazerzadeh, said. "Her stoning sentence was only delayed; it has not been lifted yet." He said his mother was cut off from all contact since her televised "confession" on August 11, which he feared could signal an imminent execution. Mr Kian, her lawyer, said he believes she was tortured into confessing on camera. Ashtiani's death sentence was put on hold in July after an international outcry and is now being reviewed by Iran's Supreme Court.

Mr Kian said on Monday that state agents had raided his office and home and removed files and a computer that contained the last evidence of court verdicts that had found Ashtiani innocent of her husband's murder. "They beat up the caretaker of my apartment building so badly that he was taken to hospital," he said. While Ashtiani is a cause célèbre in the West, Iran's state-run media have hardly touched on her case. The few reformist newspapers that have not been shuttered have avoided her plight, aware of its extreme sensitivity.

Outlawed opposition websites, operating through proxy servers have, however, given Ashtiani sympathetic and widespread coverage. A senior Iranian analyst in Tehran, who declined to be named, said: "I don't think they will actually go as far as hanging or stoning Sakineh. That would trigger the worst human-rights related-problem and the regime does not seem to be in a position to risk that now." @Email:mtheodoulou@thenational.ae

Famous left-handers

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COMPANY PROFILE

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Based: Egypt
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$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

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The flights

Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines fly direct from the UAE to Singapore from Dh2,265 return including taxes. The flight takes about 7 hours.

The hotel

Rooms at the M Social Singapore cost from SG $179 (Dh488) per night including taxes.

The tour

Makan Makan Walking group tours costs from SG $90 (Dh245) per person for about three hours. Tailor-made tours can be arranged. For details go to www.woknstroll.com.sg

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The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Battery: 53kWh lithium-ion battery pack (GS base model); 70kWh battery pack (GF)
Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
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Some of Darwish's last words

"They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope." - Mahmoud Darwish, to attendees of the Palestine Festival of Literature, 2008

His life in brief: Born in a village near Galilee, he lived in exile for most of his life and started writing poetry after high school. He was arrested several times by Israel for what were deemed to be inciteful poems. Most of his work focused on the love and yearning for his homeland, and he was regarded the Palestinian poet of resistance. Over the course of his life, he published more than 30 poetry collections and books of prose, with his work translated into more than 20 languages. Many of his poems were set to music by Arab composers, most significantly Marcel Khalife. Darwish died on August 9, 2008 after undergoing heart surgery in the United States. He was later buried in Ramallah where a shrine was erected in his honour.

All We Imagine as Light

Director: Payal Kapadia

Starring: Kani Kusruti, Divya Prabha, Chhaya Kadam

Rating: 4/5

Biog

Mr Kandhari is legally authorised to conduct marriages in the gurdwara

He has officiated weddings of Sikhs and people of different faiths from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Russia, the US and Canada

Father of two sons, grandfather of six

Plays golf once a week

Enjoys trying new holiday destinations with his wife and family

Walks for an hour every morning

Completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Loyola College, Chennai, India

2019 is a milestone because he completes 50 years in business

 

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League quarter-final, second leg (first-leg score)

Porto (0) v Liverpool (2), Wednesday, 11pm UAE

Match is on BeIN Sports

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

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First match: November 20
Final 16 round: December 3 to 6
Quarter-finals: December 9 and 10
Semi-finals: December 13 and 14
Final: December 18

Nepotism is the name of the game

Salman Khan’s father, Salim Khan, is one of Bollywood’s most legendary screenwriters. Through his partnership with co-writer Javed Akhtar, Salim is credited with having paved the path for the Indian film industry’s blockbuster format in the 1970s. Something his son now rules the roost of. More importantly, the Salim-Javed duo also created the persona of the “angry young man” for Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s, reflecting the angst of the average Indian. In choosing to be the ordinary man’s “hero” as opposed to a thespian in new Bollywood, Salman Khan remains tightly linked to his father’s oeuvre. Thanks dad. 

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 15 PRO MAX

Display: 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2796 x 1290, 460ppi, 120Hz, 2000 nits max, HDR, True Tone, P3, always-on

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Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: iOS 17

Main camera: Triple: 48MP main (f/1.78) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP 5x telephoto (f/2.8); 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 25x; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 60fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting; Animoji, Memoji

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4441mAh, up to 29h video, 25h streaming video, 95h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30min (with at least 20W adaptor); MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay), second-generation Ultra Wideband chip

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: USB-C

Durability: IP68, water-resistant up to 6m up to 30min; dust/splash-resistant

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + eSIM (US models use eSIMs only)

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Stree

Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5

The specs: 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo

The specs: 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Price, base / as tested: Dh182,178
Engine: 3.7-litre V6
Power: 350hp @ 7,400rpm
Torque: 374Nm @ 5,200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
​​​​​​​Fuel consumption, combined: 10.5L / 100km

Fast X

Director: Louis Leterrier

Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Brie Larson, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron

Rating: 3/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

 

Zidane's managerial achievements

La Liga: 2016/17
Spanish Super Cup: 2017
Uefa Champions League: 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18
Uefa Super Cup: 2016, 2017
Fifa Club World Cup: 2016, 2017

Company Profile

Company name: EduPloyment
Date started: March 2020
Co-Founders: Mazen Omair and Rana Batterjee
Base: Dubai, UAE
Sector: Recruitment
Size: 30 employees
Investment stage: Pre-Seed
Investors: Angel investors (investment amount undisclosed)

Company Profile

Founders: Tamara Hachem and Yazid Erman
Based: Dubai
Launched: September 2019
Sector: health technology
Stage: seed
Investors: Oman Technology Fund, angel investor and grants from Sharjah's Sheraa and Ma'an Abu Dhabi

LIVERPOOL TOP SCORERS

(Premier League only)
Mohamed Salah 129
Robbie Fowler 128
Steven Gerrard 120
Michael Owen 118
Sadio Mane 90

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

if you go

The flights

Flydubai flies to Podgorica or nearby Tivat via Sarajevo from Dh2,155 return including taxes. Turkish Airlines flies from Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Podgorica via Istanbul; alternatively, fly with Flydubai from Dubai to Belgrade and take a short flight with Montenegro Air to Podgorica. Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to Podgorica via Belgrade. Flights cost from about Dh3,000 return including taxes. There are buses from Podgorica to Plav. 

The tour

While you can apply for a permit for the route yourself, it’s best to travel with an agency that will arrange it for you. These include Zbulo in Albania (www.zbulo.org) or Zalaz in Montenegro (www.zalaz.me).

 

RESULTS

2.15pm: Al Marwan Group Holding – Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (Dirt) 1,200m
Winner: SS Jalmod, Antonio Fresu (jockey), Ibrahim Al Hadhrami (trainer)

2.45pm: Sharjah Equine Hospital – Maiden (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,000m
Winner: Ghallieah, Sebastien Martino, Jean-Claude Pecout

3.15pm: Al Marwan Group Holding – Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,700m
Winner: Inthar, Saif Al Balushi, Khalifa Al Neyadi

3.45pm: Al Ain Stud Emirates Breeders Trophy – Conditions (PA) Dh50,000 (D) 1,700m
Winner: MH Rahal, Richard Mullen, Elise Jeanne

4.25pm: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup – Prestige Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 1,200m
Winner: JAP Aneed, Ray Dawson, Irfan Ellahi

4.45pm: Sharjah Equine Hospital – Handicap (TB) Dh40,000 (D) 1,200m
Winner: Edaraat, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

Company profile

Name: Yodawy
Based: Egypt
Founders: Karim Khashaba, Sherief El-Feky and Yasser AbdelGawad
Sector:
HealthTech
Total funding: $24.5 million
Investors: Algebra Ventures, Global Ventures, MEVP and Delivery Hero Ventures, among others
Number of employees:
500