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« Pretty is as pretty does | Main | Arms and the woman »

May 15, 2009

’The world will know’

Soraya The words above are the last words spoken in the shattering film The Stoning of Soraya M. Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the aunt of the young woman who has just been murdered by family and friends, has succeeded in making sure that the crime will not be hidden. Unable to protect her beloved niece, Zahra nevertheless ends the film with this triumph over the evil that destroyed Soraya (Mozhan Marnò).

The story, based on a real case that took place in the 1980s, is told simply and straightforwardly. French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (Jim Caviezel) is stranded in a small Iraqi village when his car breaks down. Seeing the tape recorder poking out of his bag, Zahra persuades him to come to her home while his car is being fixed, and tells him what happened to her niece just the day before.

Via one extended flashback, we see Soraya's husband, Ali, plotting with other men of the village, including the mullah, to get rid of his "inconvenient wife" so he can marry a 14-year-old girl and move to the city. Ordered to work for a widower and his son who need help, Soraya is then accused of sleeping with her employer, and he is pressured into confessing the adultery that never happened.

The conspiracy ends where the title promised it would: with the gentle wife and mother bound, buried up to the waist in a pit, and bombarded with stones by her father, husband, sons, and neighbors. The stoning of Soraya is graphic, bloody, and painfully slow, and explains the film's R rating. (I had hoped against hope they would rush through that part. They didn't.) 

The film is a valuable window on a culture that debases and punishes women simply for being women. It is, as producer John Shepherd said before the screening, "a story that had to be told." But it's even more than that: It's also a reminder that, as Chuck likes to say, all of us have the law of God, which tells us the difference between good and evil, written on our hearts, regardless of culture.

Right before the murder, we see the village's mayor praying for a sign, so that he'll know if he's doing the wrong thing in allowing the stoning to take place. Zahra never had any doubts: As she will tell Freidoune fiercely the next day, "I know right from wrong. What happened here yesterday was wrong." But even when the mayor receives what he asked for -- when Soraya's father throws the first stones and fails to hit her, an old woman cries out that it's a sign -- he hesitates barely a second before allowing the stoning to continue. It drives home the lesson that the determination to get our own way, the belief that other lives are worth less than ours, and the human heart's limitless capacity for self-deception can lead to terrible things.

The Stoning of Soraya M. opens in ten cities on June 26. Visit StoningParable.com for screening information and ministry resources based on this powerful film.

A final bit of irony. While leaving the theater, we had to pass a poster for the movie Lymelife with this tagline: "The American Dream Sucks." It was impossible to see those words at that moment and not be struck afresh by just how spoiled rotten we Americans are. Say what you will about the American Dream, it beats the radical Islamic dream all to pieces.

(Image © Mpower Distribution)

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I vaguely remember this when it happened at the time, and it's no less shocking these years later. I look forward to seeing the film, and pleased i read this blog. Thanks.


Corollary with abortion frenzy we are living through is the incredible degradation of women - worldwide.

While some may ask how this stoning in an Islamic country relates to our abortion feeding frenzy...both are lives that we think ----not worth much.

I remember when a kid---when the feminist movement revived (noisily) in the late 1960's, women would protest when other women were treated as objects--AND when women were abused! That loud defense got drowned (mostly) in the soon following love affair with abortion...when it suddenly became legal in the early 70's--with a wave of the federal court's wand.

NOW---noone even notices---the stoning stories in the news...Michael Vick (today on ESPM)gets INCREDIBLY LONG coverage on his release from jail for dog racing--- but FAMOUS SPORTSMEN who abuse wives, girlfriends; who possibly rape (or at least intimidate) other women; who need a court order to make them pay for their kids...YAWN>>> who notices all that much?!

Both the unborn---and women (in many ways) are being demeaned.

(PS A small footnote: If you are an employer, do you pay all your employees, male, female, of whatever beliefs or race...what their job and skills and work ethic entitles them to?? I've still observed (and sometimes personally experienced---lesser wages---with no discernable difference---except being female...And my husband has seen where new immigrants get the most hazardous jobs.)

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