[Five Years after March 15, 1994 on SCI]



[Today is Dec 4, 1999.]  The following is a repost of my March 15, 1994 article on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup, with the same heading.  This article led to the formation of Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG).  Please see the following URL for details (which is also attached below at the end):


Now looking back, I would say if I were writing this article today, surely I would not write it the same way, but the gist of it would be the same, and in fact it proved to be true that the campaign for stopping stoning and other similar barbaric practices of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), even within the IRI, was possible and actually this is what five years later, moderates of this very system itself, the journalists of "Zan" magazine in Iran, were trying to do, when asking for ending this barbaric practice of stoning, using religious arguments, right before being shut down.


These are the kind of demands that the reformers of the system like Ayatollah Nouri and Shamsolvaezin today, are going to jail for.  [And the death threat and setting bounty against the human rights activist and Chair of IHRWG, Dr. Hossein Bagher Zadeh, for asking the end to capital punishment in Iran’s press and the aforementioned reformers going to jail for publishing it]. So I would not care as much that they [the reformers] are the ones who supported this system five years ago.  Instead, I think what they say today shows that thanks to the efforts of Iranian people and the human rights activists, even a segment of the regime itself is now believing and demanding the end of such practices, within this system.


But I think today it is not enough to ask for ending these practices within this theocracy of Islamic Republic of Iran.  I think it is now obvious for Iranian people that no reform within the religious apartheid system of Islamic Republic of Iran can end the human rights abuses in Iran.


It is now obvious that religious state, theocracy itself, must be voted out and should be replaced with a secular democratic republic of Iran.  Anything short of this is really not conducive to democracy and realization of human rights in Iran.  Theocracy should be put to a referendum in Iran and should be *voted out*. 


Asking for separation of state and religion is not just a theoretical conclusion today.  It is the result of 20 years of religious apartheid in Iran that Iranian people see it so well that they do not want a mollah government and want the separation of state and religion and want a democratic and progressive government that can guarantee the human rights and progress for Iran, as humanity enters the 21st Century.


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher




From: Sam Ghandchi

Newsgroups: soc.culture.iranian


Date: Tues, 15 Mar 1994


Dear X,


Actually I was planning not to do any thing else and just spend two weeks with my family until I received the IRAN TIMES and I could not think of any other place except SCI to express my pain.  (BTW, to answer your question not to be confused with Tehran-based Tehran Times, Iran Times is published out of Washington DC, I do not know who the publisher is and I can look it up if you want me too. Once I wrote an article in Persian and I mailed it to a few newspapers abroad and it happened that they published it.  This is the same way I publish scientific articles in the American journals.  If I like to publish in a journal, I submit article.  They may accept it or they may reject it.  I do not need to know the publisher's name.  See my article entitled "Intelligent Tools, the Cornerstone of New Civilizations" with almost similar discussions, as the one I published in Iran Times, in the Fall 1985 issue of AI Journal, the scientific journal of American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).  So I have no affiliation with Iran Times except being a subscriber.  I pay $70 a year for my subscription.  You can do the same.  I think they are the best newspaper I have ever seen published in Farsi.  They are not a sensationalist paper.   Unfortunately most of the Iranian newspapers have large MISLEADING headings, and when you search the news content, you will see the discrepancy.  In Shah's regime, Iran Times was a monarchist paper distributed by Iran's Embassy in Washington.  Nowadays they are independent and the closest you can get in the Iranian press, to what scientific journalism is supposed to be, something like New York Times, Washington Post, and Le Monde.).  So much for the meta-talk.


In the following, "S" indicates my own (Sam Ghandchi) previous posting and "X" indicates X's posting.


S Wrote:


Anybody who claims to be religious, whether pro-IRI or not, knows Jesus- the Prophet, right?  Do you remember when Jesus saw a mob wanting to stone a prostitute, he stopped them by saying only that one among you, who has not sinned, cast the first stone.  Then the mob dispersed.  Can't some real Muslim in Qom go and do the same to these mobs who are acting so barbaric?


X Wrote:


Well, there were and are a lot of discussion about the condition of stoning and as I know there are a lot of people against this HOKM among the scholars because of the condition in Iran and there are some who support. As I know IRI tried to stop the practicing of these kind of HOKMS untill the society becomes an Islamic society.


As you have pointed out in the above passage and Dr. Hossein Bagherzadeh noted passages in his posting; there are Muslim scholars and theologians who do not think of Stoning as a proper Islamic action.  Thus it shows that Muslims as well as non-Muslims have a choice to support this practice or to condemn it.  My request is that regardless of our political, philosophic, or religious differences, we should do our part to put an end to this practice in Iran.  This is a cultural issue.  It is something very barbaric in our culture; and it must be and can be stopped if enough concerned individuals raise their voice.


Just like the way Ozgooz is collecting a petition for Ayatollah Khamenei to become the Marja, we could write a petition and ask for the discontinuation of the stoning practice.  I am not good at writing petitions, but I know there are many people on this forum and the Islamic forum who can do that.


BTW, I think any ways the Shia followers want to choose their Marja is their business, but if I may, I would like to say that I praise Ozgooz's approach with his forms and petitions.  Maybe in some forums it can intimidate Sunnis, but I would dare to say that Ozgooz's approach is much more democratic than the ways Marjas were selected in the past.  In our history mostly Marjas were appointed by the King of the time.


In the Catholic Church the ecclesiastical reform of the Eleventh Century and formation of the General Councils paved the way for scholars such as St. Thomas Aquinas and William of Occam (do you remember Occam's razor in logic?) to grow.  Before then, the occupation of the Catholic fathers was issues of chastity of virgins and the prohibitions of married couples' intercourse before Sunday mass, or the sin of suicide.


For example, six centuries before the reforms, St.Augustine in his "City of God" (410-412 AD) has a hard time to prove why suicide is a sin when he is reminded of Samson's suicide.  He finally says that Samson was an exception.  Does it ring a bell?


When the virgins in Rome were raped by the Goths, St.Augustine did not know what to say about the guilt of the women who lost virginity, so he solved it by saying virginity is in your mind and if you did not feel pleasure when raped then you are OK.  Does it ring a bell?


St. Augustine also states that if you have had intercourse the previous night, you cannot enter the church.  And here is why love and sex should be done as guilty actions.  Eustochium wrote "Ever let the privacy of your chamber guard you; ever let the Bridegroom sport you within.  Do you pray?  You speak to the Bridegroom.  Do you read?  He speaks to you.  When sleep overtakes you He will come behind you and puts His hand through the hole of the door, and your heart shall be moved for Him; and you will awake and rise up; "I am sick of love,"  Then He will reply" 'A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed".   These passages remind me of some Islamist cult members who call each other "sister" and "brother" but marry each other.  Their words sound like incest to me.


At any rate, the works of the people like St. Thomas Aquinas and William of Occam put an end to all these nonsensical occupations of the Catholic Church and the Church started to become more interested in more interesting issues of natural and social sciences.  Of course their work was not easy and for example Occam was summoned for charges of heresy, etc.  But the work of these people is what remains today as the treasures of the Jesuits (Catholics).  If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is hard to miss their contributions to learning if you just pay a visit to the University of Santa Clara which is a Jesuit institution.


I think condemning practices such as stoning and starting to think about real issues of our times is the contribution that many Iranians, Muslim or not, can make to the development of our culture.


Sam Ghandchi

March 15, 1994



Following text was provided by IHRWG in Dec1998 to


Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) is a an Internet-based community of individuals committed to campaigning for the improvement of human rights in Iran.


The following text was provided by IHRWG.


It all started with the news of a yet another stoning (to death) in Iran in March 1994. Sam Ghandchi was outraged and posed the question in the electronic bulletin board soc.culture.iranian (SCI) if something could be done by way of petition to stop this barbaric practice. Hossein B. Zadeh followed it up by arguing that the real evil is the death penalty itself - human beings allowing themselves to take lives of other human beings. Then followed a series of correspondence in which Hossein also invited a group of other like-minded SCI contributors to take part.


In the discussions that followed, a number of human rights issues, including torture and various forms of death penalty in Iran were raised. It was realized that organizing a thorough and effective campaign against any of these abuses of human rights in Iran required more self-education as well as a forum for discussion and planning actions. And so the idea of forming the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) was born.


Some 14 members of the people who were involved in the discussion welcomed the idea and registered themselves as "founding members" of the group. They approved a Charter for the group and elected a 5-member Steering Committee in May 1994 after which the group was officially launched.


Early in 1995, proposals were put forward for some changes in the Charter. As a result of these changes, the number of Steering Committee members was raised from five to eight and their terms of office from one to two years (elected on a roll-over basis).


For more information about IHRWG visit their website at:




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