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.