An eye for an eye

Meet Ameneh Bahrami.

Four years ago, a spurned suitor poured a bucket of sulfuric acid over her head, leaving her blind and disfigured.

Ms. Bahrami asked that her attacker be given a punishment fitting the crime. How did the court decide?

Late last month, an Iranian court ordered that five drops of the same chemical be placed in each of her attacker’s eyes, acceding to Bahrami’s demand that he be punished according to a principle in Islamic jurisprudence that allows a victim to seek retribution for a crime. The sentence has not yet been carried out.

The implementation of corporal punishments allowed under Islamic law, including lashing, amputation and stoning, has often provoked controversy in Iran, where many people have decried such sentences as barbaric.

Courts usually order families of the accused to pay “blood money” for the crimes. But Bahrami insisted on the punishment. She had several meetings with the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who tends to favor less strict interpretations of Islamic law.

“Shahroudi really pressed me to demand blood money instead of retribution. He explained that such a sentence would cause lots of bad publicity for Iran. But I refused,” she said.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ann Althouse writes

Surely, Shahroudi must know that Iran gets bad publicity for these “blood money” punishments — which look more like our tort remedies. It’s a crime. Put that man in prison for a long, long time if you want our respect.

Was the ruling in Iran barbaric or just?

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