The Stoning of Soraya M.

This powerful adaptation of a 1994 book by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam of the same title pictures the inhuman practice of stoning women accused of adultery, which ectually continues to this day.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is more than a movie. It is based on a true story that the whole world should know. I personally got very touched  with this story and the topic in general. Sincerely I’ve never cried so much in my life while watching any other movie. I felt so much shame and sadness about the brutality of the humankind. This is a very powerful movie. The Stoning of Soraya M. is the first film drama to expose the torture of public stoning in the Muslim world.

Set in a small Iranian village in the mid-1980s, an innocent woman – Soraya, is caught in a scheme by her cruel husband who conspires against her with charges of infidelity. Husband Ali was anxious to be rid of his devoted wife, Soraya, so he would be free to marry a 14-year-old girl. But, as we see, Soraya resists a divorce, fearing it will mean economic ruin for her and her four children. Ali enlists the local mullah and fellow villagers to conduct a tribunal that declares her guilty. Her sentence is death by public stoning, still employed in Iran and other radical Islamic countries.

The disturbing violence and torturous suffering that attend the climax are conveyed extremely graphically, though one can easily imagine the reality would be far worse. When French-Iranian journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam, published The Stoning of Soraya M., it became an international bestseller, focusing attention on the practice of stoning in Iran, as well as the lack of women’s rights there. Despite official denials, untold numbers of people, mostly women, continue to be put to death by stoning in many countries around the world.

Title Card of the movie:

Don’t act like the hypocrite, who thinks he can conceal his wiles

while loudly quoting the Koran.” – Hafez, 14th Century Iranian Poet

Watch the trailer:

The 1979 Iranian revolution made Shariah ( the ancient collection of laws derived from the Quran ) the template for the nation’s civil legislation. As a result, adultery, which under the shah was merely punished with fines or community service, became a capital offense.


Due to the secrecy of these executions, accurate statistics are hard to come by. Reports suggest that there have been at least 1,000 women stoned to death, primarily for marital or sexual violations, in Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, and Pakistan during the past 15 years. The United Nations estimates that some 5,000 women each year, including some in the U.S., become victims of so-called “honor killings” in which family members kill a woman who has allegedly brought dishonor on them through such acts as dressing provocatively or engaging in illicit sex. In 2008, a 13-year-old Somali girl was stoned by 50 men in a football stadium in front of a crowd of 1,000 spectators. According to BBC reports, the mob buried her up to her shoulders while she begged for her life, pleading “don’t kill me, don’t kill me.” Eleven people in Iran, nine of them women, were waiting to be stoned to death for adultery last year, according to Amnesty International. The United Nations estimates that 5,000 women each year become victims of “honor crimes” in which family members kill a woman who has allegedly brought dishonor on them.

In the beggining of 2010, according to Iran Human Rights Voice, Branch 12 of the appeals court in Western Azerbaijan province sentenced two people to death by stoning for having a sexual relationship outside of marriage. 22 March report by the autonomous Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 647 women were killed in the name of ‘honour’ in 2009 – up 13 percent on the 574 killings in 2008.

If you wish to know more about stoning of people, especially from the legal point of view, please visit the web-site of Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women.

The film contains a sequence of intense violence, torture, sexual references and one rough and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Read the following quote to understand how Muslims expline this brutal behavour. From “Lashinf, stoning, mutilating: Islamic law is barbaric and outdated. Defend the case of Islam”, by Abdullah Mohammed:

“To eliminate the root cause of zina (the unlawful sexual union between a man and a woman who are not married to each other), Islam also takes other large scale precautionary and prohibitory measures such as developing God-consciousness, repugnance to sin and the belief in accountability, in every stage of education and it also encourages “early marriage and provides aid from the Public Treasury for those who wish to get married yet cannot afford to do so”. Islamic societies, for this reason, will also not tolerate lures, mixed parties, pornography and the like which is likely to arouse the passion and disturb family relations because after all, according to the Qur’an, “Man is created weak” (4:28).”

And another quote:

“Despite all the lawful channels provided, if a person transgresses the limits beyond all bounds of decency to commit zina in ‘public’, then Islam provides severe chastisement to safeguard the family and to save society from corruption and destruction and the punishment acts as a strong ‘deterrent’ to others. For fornication between unmarried couples the penalty is 100 lashes and for adultery between married couples the penalty is stoning to death (rajm)…  only that kind of adultery is punishable by stoning which is committed intentionally by a free person who is both mature and sane, the accused must be committed to a marriage and has had intercourse with his lawful spouse, the accused must have committed zina voluntarily without compulsion and the act of zina must be attested by four honest, reliable and trustworthy witnesses who must have all seen the act of penepration and all four witnesses must be ‘unanimous’ in every stage of the act.

Such movies should become liberating stories about the power of breaking a silence and hopefully encouraging others to add their voices.


8 thoughts on “The Stoning of Soraya M.

  1. Pingback: The Stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi A. « Ad Astra Per Aspera

  2. Esto tiene que terminar esta ley esta equivocada es mucho machismo. Esta ley es hecha por hombres y no por Dios. Como decia el reportaje Dios ha de estar llorando de tanta repugnancia y asco de tanta crueldad e injusticia.

  3. Pingback: Lost Voices: The Stoning of Soraya M. « Labragirl Pictures

  4. Pingback: Lost Voices: The Stoning of Soraya M. | Labragirl Film Project

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