Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Iranian Vigilantes Cleared of Murder

Vigilantism is not above the law in Iran; it is the law in Iran.

Sunday, 15 April 2007:
The BBC reported that Islamic "vigilantes" who went on a killing spree in a number of gruesome murders were found Innocent by the Iranian Supreme Court. "The killers said they believed Islam let them spill the blood of anyone engaged in illicit activities if they issued two warnings to the victims. " "The vigilantes were not guilty because their victims were involved in un-Islamic activities, the [Iranian] court found." A vigilante, according to Webster's dictionary, is "a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime". So, actually in Islamic law, vigilantism is perceived as a virtue.

It's interesting to note that what the Iranian vigilantes did in Iran would clearly be seen as a crime in America, but what the Minute Men are doing in the U.S. is clearly legal, Constitutional vigilantism; yet however, they are considered as criminals by many.

The Iranian Supreme Court concluded, the perpetrators were not criminals but faithful Muslims, who had functioned within the rubric of Sharia law. Anyone is commanded to submit to Allah and acknowledge His prophet Muhammad.

Everyone can warn their neighbor twice that they are involved in un-Islamic behavior. If a Muslim or non-Muslim is found engaging in illicit activities, they can be warned twice. If not heeded, apparently, any citizen has the right to execute that person.

"The case raises serious questions about vigilantes in Iran taking justice into their own hands and undermining the rule of law. "

This previous statement was made by a "Western" reporter's point of view. After all, a vigilante in western terms is used for those take matters into their own hands, functioning outside the law of their society, as juror and judge. It appears Frances Harrison, the person who reported this story, inserted his Western view of the "law": Life, Liberty, and Property protected by the state, and guaranteed under due process. But whose "law" is Francis talking about? Moses' or Mohammed's?

According to the Iranian court, the perpetrators were not acting outside the law, or above the law--they were working within the law. Perhaps we have been looking at the executions through our Western eyes. We just assume they're thinking the same way as we do about people's rights. But actually, they are very much working in the Sharia paradigm.

Do you believe universal inalienable rights exist, even if a society doesn't recognize them?

I found the statement above to be very illuminating. Why didn't I see this before? Of course the Iranian courts ruled not guilty. This can really help us in our understanding of the current wide-spread killing in Iraq. We've been looking into the death and carnage as an absolute failure of a U.S. policy, and with total bewilderment at the murderous acts of the Iraqis. If universal inalienable rights do not exist, then we've been looking at Iraq with our own "Western" ethnocentrism. What looks like chaos and civil war is actually the ancient, societal norms in which Muslims are called upon by their prophet to solve the problems of immorality, eradicate blasphemy, and subdue their enemies.

After all, have we not all been taught in college or experienced the trickle down effect of liberal teaching of relativism that one culture should not be judge by the traditions of another culture? It appears we are guilty then of assuming that everyone believes that inalienable rights should apply. But if we are to be consistent with the "scientific" dictum taught in anthropology, we shouldn't be judging any other culture by any ethic or moral standard other than that found within it's own culture. I should just shrug and say, "Hey! If inalienable rights don't exist in that country or culture, who am I to judge?" Liberate yourself! Shake yourself free from any ethnocentrism, and be-numb yourself when you hear of the bullet riddled corpses of little children tossed into ditches on the sides of highways like filthy rubbish. Apparently, the Shiites and Sunnis are being very "vigilent" under a different set of values.

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