1986: The Stoning of Soraya M

It was on this date, according to French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s The Stoning of Soraya M, that 35-year-old mother Soraya Manutchehri was stoned to death in an Iranian village.


In a scene from The Stoning of Soraya M, the titular character awaits her titular fate.

In Sahebjam’s telling, a journalistic trip to the Islamic Republic chances upon a mountain village with a terrible secret.

The story he uncovers features one Ghorban-Ali, nasty husband par excellence who grows tired of the arranged wife he’s spent 22 years beating and (falsely) accuses her of adultery in order to put her out of the way so that he can remarry a younger bride.

With the complicity of the local mullah, the impolitic silence of the accused, and the structural misogyny of the law, Soraya Manutchehri quickly finds herself condemned to death on this date, and stoned within hours — Soraya’s own father casting the first stones.

This powerful story, officially denied by Tehran, has just been released in cinematic form. The Stoning of Soraya M. (movie homepage) features an unsubtle dramatic tableau, a stomach-churning 20-minute stoning sequence, and Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo as Soraya’s aunt Zahra Kahnum, fearlessly giving the foreign journalist this explosive story

As it happened, this cinematic condemnation of the reduced status of women in the Ayatollah’s Iran made its American debut the same week that cell phone footage of Neda Agha-Soltan, bleeding to death after being shot dead during protests against Iran’s recent election results, became an Internet sensation.

On this day..

10 thoughts on “1986: The Stoning of Soraya M

  1. Snowy fields greeted him from his office’s window. Only the view from the window gave him some sense of the outside world during his nearly month-long confinement. Little to see here. There were just a few birds and tiny animals that wandered into the field. Looking out the window, he wondered how long he’d have to endure being tethered to the house’s steel bar.

  2. actually, it isn’t specific to Islam, but it is specific to religion-it is seen in the Old Testament and was also practiced in Judaism. Islam does used the OT. However, this story is not based on Islam-it’s based on a tyrant husband and community politics that allowed this to happen by creating lies-and using those lies to frame Soraya and allow the tyrant husband to remarry.

  3. This has nothing to do with Islam or religion in general; these actions are simply part of culture, traditions and the fact that this is a men’s world like Ali, Soraya’s husband, states in the movie. Men like him and the Mulla twist religion and laws so that they can use them whenever they please. It is such a shame that this incident happened 27/26 years ago and it is also a shame that this is still happening.
    I watched the movie today and I still cannot get over this injustice.

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  5. It, HAPPEND agin now in Sudan.

    Can’t thosse men be educated??? WHY are they doing that?
    They only can read coran and… even that not, because it’s says

    DONT KILL!!!

    They are murders.!!!

  6. @Steve: That kind of behavior is cultural/tribal, not religious. Most Muslims throughout the world would be appalled by Soraya’s execution.

  7. Such a beautiful peaceful relgion… and they wonder why we don’t want them in the rest of the civilised world.

  8. Heartbreaking and devastatingly sad, to think other women who only want to live a peaceful life and have their children happy , grow up and see their grandchildren are living through this, tears me apart…

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