What hath Shariah wrought?

, Brittany Fortier, Leave a comment

Some movies engage the mind or lift the spirit, but The Stoning Of Soraya M. touches the soul. The film tells the story of an Iranian village’s persecution of a woman named Soraya, who is falsely accused of adultery by her husband. Through the corruption of local village leaders, the husband is able to conspire against his wife by taking advantage of a system that is already rigged against her.

When a journalist named Freidoune Sahebjam (Jim Cavesiel, The Passion of the Christ) comes to the village, an opportunity is presented to tell Soraya’s story. Soraya’s aunt, Zahara, played by Academy Award nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog), tells Sahebjam that since “voices of women do not matter in here” she wants him to take her voice and share Soraya’s story with the world.

The film is a compelling reminder of the cruel realities of injustice for those who live under oppressive regimes. So many of their stories are unknown and unheard, making it all the more important to acknowledge that such instances of injustice still exist, even today in a world that strives to protect human rights.

Soraya (Mozhan Marn, Charlie Wilson’s War) maintains her integrity and dignity throughout her ordeal, making the betrayal and harsh treatment she is subjected to even more painful to witness. Through her extraordinary courage, she not only inspires the audience, but makes them ask themselves what they would do if they were in the same position.

Cyrus Nowrasteh, the director of the film, said on July 8, 2009 that this incident “could only take place in a situation where the penal code in Iran allows for it.” Though stoning still takes place in other countries throughout the world, Nowrasteh calls occurrences of stoning in Iran “particularly notorious.”

He adds that the Iranian regime should be “embarrassed” that such incidents still take place in their country and hopes the film will draw attention to the brutal life of many Iranian women. He says that the regime should be “forced to face these issues and hopefully abolish stoning soon.”

The cinematography of the film is visually stunning. One cannot help but admire the beauty of the Iranian landscape as depicted in the film, while at the same time contrasting it with the evil intentions of the husband and village leaders. Even more disturbing is how the villagers turn into an insatiable mob, bringing to mind comparisons to stories such as Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”

Brittany Fortier is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.