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Revolution and Pro-Democracy Aspirations

Two Statements by Iranian Jurists Against The Proposed “Law of Retribution” (April 19 and May 12, 1981)

the Iranian Law Faculty Professors, Judges, and Attorneys of the Ministry of Justice/ABF translation
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
April 19, 1981
Statement

Statement of a Number of Judges and Jurists Regarding the "Retribution (Qesas) Bill"

19 April 1981

Translated by Kambiz Afshar

WHEREAS, modifying the country's [or society's] penal system is a critical and sensitive task which must be undertaken with the utmost precision, since it deals directly with people's lives and liberties as well as the public order;

WHEREAS, many of the religious scholars' decrees ("Fatwa") are issued taking into account social mores and customs as well as the necessities and the requirements of the times, and since bringing Islamic rules into conformity with the modern-day ethics and economic conditions of our society requires new and innovative [religious leadership and] mastery of religious jurisprudence ("Ijtihad"), which would ensure that, while remaining true to the texts, spirit, and objective of Islamic rules and divine principles, Islam's dynamism and logical evolution are maintained and that [Islam] is not presented in an outdated fashion and format;

WHEREAS, the implementation of certain legal principles will not have the desired effect if it is not predicated upon individual integrity and high moral standards [but will have the opposite effect and] will be a cause for abuse by opportunists, and will derail those principles and prevent them from attaining their main objective, and [since] reliance on the validity of testimony and oath in proving [or presenting evidence for] murder is undoubtedly one such principle;

WHEREAS, in order to prevent unjust enrichment, to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth, and to preserve the rights of the poor, penal policy in Islamic society must be in line and in conjunction with economic policies, and since conflict and contradiction between the two neutralizes both policies and disrupts the judicial as well as the economic order; therefore, in a country where Islamic justice has not yet been achieved in the economic and political arenas, the full implementation of the Islamic penal rules seems inappropriate. Furthermore, in a society that is taking steps to socialize certain rights and to nationalize industries [policies alien to traditional Islamic order], we cannot exempt the wealthy from punishment [simply] because of their financial capabilities, and deprive the poor of their right to seek justice, or consider murder a private affair between the murderer and the victim's next of kin, and [hence] disregard and not take into account the right of society [as a whole.]

WHEREAS, a value system must conform to society's expectations of individuals and of the government's social policies so that morality and law may come together and bring success to man's strife for progress and perfection and assist him in reaching his commendable goals, therefore, in a society where women are expected to fight alongside men and become martyrs in war fronts and on the streets, and bear witness to the entirety of history, their testimony cannot be considered invalid[1] [as evidence] in proving premeditated murder (and this, in spite of a number of Ravayaat [2] accepting women's testimony as evidence in proving murder, in addition to the fact that certain renowned Shi'a religious scholars, such as Sheikh Toosi[3], Mohaqqeq[4], Shahid e Thaani[5], and Allameh[6], have not accepted the invalidity of a woman's testimony to this effect.)

WHEREAS in an orderly society adjudication of cases must be in the sole purview of public authorities, and no one must be allowed to commit murder under the guise of punishing a felonand not be held accountable[7] and whereas prescribing such murders [to become] a rule will undoubtedly be subject to abuse and will encourage criminals to devise diabolical schemes to characterize private murders as implementation of the law; The possibility of such abuse is greater in the case of crimes such as insulting religious sanctities, which do not have an obvious material effect.

WHEREAS the Qesas Bill, prepared by the Supreme Judicial Council and approved by the Government, contains, from a variety of perspectives, serious legal, moral, and religious defects (such as the effect of "Ekrah" to injury and dismemberment[8]) and one can predict that its undesirable effects will cause significant social and international damage [to Islam and Iran] and cause an unfavorable assessment of Islamic justice, we therefore propose that the Supreme Judicial Council or Majles [the Iranian Parliament] bring the same before a council composed of knowledgeable religious scholars, aware of social exigencies and familiar with the principles of penal science, and of specialists in criminology, sociology, and law, experienced in penal science, so that [the issue] can be closely and scientifically analyzed and critiqued, and a religious jurisprudential conclusion can be deduced by this council, taking into consideration all the facts, and the conclusions be presented to Majles.

WE are not out to critique every single provision of the Bill; however, as far as we can understand, analysis of the Holy Koran's Ma'edeh Sura [a Chapter of the Koran], Verse 32, [which states that] " whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely," can constitute a basis for the reconstruction of penal rules regarding murder and its individual and social repercussions, since, in a society where the unjust murder of an individual is considered the murder of all, the consequences of such a crime go beyond the private relationship between the murderer and the victim; and society, having suffered from the crime, must align itself with private plaintiffs and defend its rights, be involved in preventing such crimes, in punishing the perpetrator, and [generally] guide penal policy.

THROUGHOUT the history of Shari'a, observing the interests of Moslem society has always been the inspiration for scholars and researchers of this science and has constituted the basis for many of its rules, and [this] must never be forgotten in religious jurisprudence. One example is secondary aspects of the religious issue having been left in abeyance in the Qesas Bill, based on expedience, and we expect that other interests be taken into consideration in the same fashion.

WE are of the belief that, the Islam that values a scientist's pen more than the blood of a martyr, the Islam that orders to think, to plan, and to reason throughout the Koran, the Islam that advises the faithful to seek knowledge even though it might be at the farthest reaches of the world, [this Islam] does not disagree with science and the use of scientific methods in social affairs, especially if they are for legitimate and higher purposes. Hence, it is we who must come to know the requirements of the times and utilize all of man's scientific achievements in order to reach the goals of this human-making school [of thought.]

IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC, to reconstruct society and to achieve [the goals of] Cultural Revolution, we are in need of expert religious jurisprudence in the true meaning of the words, religious expertise that is based on new scientific finds that are meant to address new needs and exigencies, and that will assist us in reaching the goal of Islamic spirituality. Translation and adaptation of the work of our forebears, albeit an invaluable task which sheds light upon the evolution of law, is simply not sufficient to address our current needs. Behind the veil of legal words, there is a spirit which must be discovered and recognized and strived to achieve. Content must never be sacrificed for the sake of form and the end must not be sacrificed for the means.

WHAT has been achieved in the course of history through the efforts of scientists and researchers in the fight against crime and for the rehabilitation of criminals, belongs to humanity and civilization [as a whole.] It is therefore not appropriate for a government that rules in the name of Islam, to disregard them [all] and for us not to be able to detect even a sign of what those achievements have put at the disposal of modern man, for the purposes of discovering crimes and rehabilitating criminals. To claim that the Islamic legal system is not capable of integrating these scientific achievements and cannot arm itself with new weapons, is a catastrophe that must be averted with utmost vigilance and awareness. It is to this end that we warn all politicians and Majles representatives that the Qesas Bill needs to be wholly revised.

***

Names and professions of the signatories:

1. Dr. Sadrzadeh Afshar, University Professor; 2. Dr Zia'eddin Peymani, University Professor; 3. Dr. Javad Sheikholeslami, University Professor; 4. Dr. Jamshid Momtaz, University Professor; 5. Dr. Ghassem Eftekhari, University Professor; 6. Dr. Hooshang Moghtader University Professor; 7. Dr. Abdolhamid Abolhamd, University Professor; 8. Dr. Mahmood Souresrafil, University Professor; 9. Dr. Nasser Katouzian, University Professor; 10. Dr. Behrooz Akhlaghi, University Professor; 11. Dr. Mohammad Razavi, University Professor; 12. Dr. Salar Nassri, University Professor; 13. Dr. Hormoz Hekmat, University Professor; 14. Dr. Keyvan Azari, University Professor; 15. Dr. Ali Azmayesh, University Professor; 16. Dr. Mohammad Fard Saidi, University Professor; 17. Dr. Fatemeh Ghadimipour, University Professor; 18. Dr. Heideh Pirayesh, University Professor; 19. Dr. Nourali Tabandeh, Attorney at Law; 20. Nassereddin Moravveji Assl, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 21. Mohammad Reza Alemzadeh, Counselor to the Circuit Court; 22. Mohammad Zaman Dadbakhsh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 23. Valiollah Dalvandi, Counselor to the Circuit Court; 24. Faraj Aminzadeh Vahedi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 25. Hossein Lotfian, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 26. Mojtaba Kazazi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 27. Youness Ghahremani, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 28. Amir Hosseinabadi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 29. Mojtaba Pouya, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 30. Habib A'raabi, Investigating Judge, Office of the Prosecutor; 31. Manoochehr Noorayi, Counselor Judge to the Legal Department [of the Ministry of Justice]; 32. Abbas Malekzad; 33. Dr. Parviz Ansari, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 34. Mohammad Ebrahim Ta'ef, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 35. Mohammad Kharrazi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 36. Eskandar Mohammadpour, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 37. Gholamreza Amid, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 38. Aziz Vahidi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 39. Mohammad Hossein Jabbarizadeh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 40. Kheirmorad Jalilvand, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 41. Firouz Faghih, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 42. Rassoul Shamlou, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 43. Mohammad Ali Shayesteh Azar, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 44. Abolghassem Forghani, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 45. Ghassem Abai, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 46. Mehdi Hafezi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 47. Ebrahim Ahadi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 48. Alireza Bagha'i, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 49. Seyyed Zia Kalantarian, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 50. Mohammad Ali Zamiri, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 51. Amir Sepahvand, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 52. Jalal Geranmayeh, Counselor Judge to the Legal Department [of the Ministry of Justice] 53. Seyyed Mohsen Gharani, Counselor Judge to the Legal Department [of the Ministry of Justice] 54. Ahmad Sadaf Gooya, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 55. Ali Vakil, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 56. Seif, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 57. Hashemi, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 58. Faramarz Zamani Salim, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 59. Ahmad Sahebazzamani, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 60. Mohammad Khajeh Nassir Toossi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 61. Rahmatollah Sa'idi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 62. Mohammad Reza Faghih Mohammadi, Assistant District Attorney; 63. Amin Rafi'i, Assistant District Attorney; 64. Meghdadi, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 65. Mansour Bani Sadr, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 66. Reza Hashemi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 67. Abdolali Tahami, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 68. Bah'oddin Ahmadi, Assistant District Attorney; 69. Reza Edaalat, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 70. Eftekhar Dadkhah, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 71. Ali Akbar Yelfani, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 72. Mohammad Hossein Hashemi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 73. Mohammad Ali Hashemi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 74. Seyyed Hossein Fatemi, Assistant District Attorney; 75. Ali Pourkarimi, Investigating Judge, Office of the Prosecutor; 76. Akbar Javadi, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 77. Asghar Nabavi, Assistant to the Tehran General Prosecutor; 78. Ali Mohammad Ghodssi, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 79. Hassan Azaani, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 80. Ardalan, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 81. Massoud Karampour, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 82. Ali Akbar Lavassani, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 83. Amanollah Sadat Akhavi, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 84. Mostafa Tavaafoghi, Assistant District Attorney; 85. Farajollah E'temad, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 86. Illegible; 87. Mohammad Vali Salehi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 88. Illegible; 89. Mahmoud Hemmati, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 90. Mohammad Afsharchi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 91. Ali Akbar Mirza Reza'I, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 92. Abdollah Tale'zadeh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; 93. Hossein Azadpour, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 94. Ahmad Taghavi, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 95. Taghi Vahidi, Assistant to the Tehran General Prosecutor; 96. Jalil Majidpour, Assistant District Attorney; 97. Alireza Sa'idi, Assistant District Attorney; 98. Ali Saberi, Assistant to the Tehran General Prosecutor; 99. Jamshid Farhangian, Assistant District Attorney; 100. Saidfar, 101. Fereydoun Nassaj, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 102. Rezvani, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 103. Mokhtar Ghaffari, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 104. Savadkouhi, Counselor Judge, Circuit Court; 105. Dr. Abdolkarim Lahiji, Attorney at Law; 106. Sanabargh Zahedi, Attorney at Law; 107. Mahmoud Bani Najjarian, Attorney at Law; 108. Seyyed Abbas Shafa'ati, 109. Mahmoudzadeh, Chief Judge, Circuit Court; 110. Abolghassem Rezvani, Assistant District Attorney; 111. Seyyed Mohammad Seifzadeh, Assistant District Attorney; 112. Mohammad Reza Vakilian, Assistant District Attorney; 113. Ali Shafagh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims; and a number of other illegible signatures.

The statement signed by professors of the Faculty of Law, Political Science and Economics of Tehran University, judges of the Ministry of Justice and lawyers, regarding the "open discussion" on the proposed "Law of Retribution."

12 May 1981

Translated into English by H. Hekmat

In the name of God

Following the publication of the statement signed by a number of jurists and prosecutors regarding the proposed "Retribution Bill", one hoped that the Supreme Judiciary Council would cease insisting on an expeditious approval of the bill and, instead, set up the proposed council in order to revise and rewrite it without regard to the ongoing partisan debates. In order to create such a council, it was appropriate to withdraw the proposed bill from the Majles [House of Representatives], discontinue its enforcement and set up a special group from among theologians and lay jurists, steeped in criminal law, and experienced judges. Only such a group could, with due deliberation, and with a view to the best interest of the Muslim community, analyze and assess the positive and negative aspects of the bill and suggest a rational and measured penal code.

Yet, this did not come to pass. Indeed, a number of Majles deputies are trying to prevent even their colleagues from exercising their right to debate and discuss the proposed bill in the plenary session. Instead, they are in the process of empowering the committee on legislation to approve the bill and thus authorize its implementation by the government. On the other hand, it has been claimed in certain circles that criticisms leveled at the bill by "ill-wishers" should be refuted by truly committed and pious jurists. Furthermore, in some public meetings a number of speakers, in their customary unfriendly tones, have called the critics of the bill "hypocrites"[Munafiq] who are not happy with the enforcement of divine rules and are therefore trying to prevent their implementation and thereby impede the realization of an Islamic society. In such an atmosphere, which is probably going to become more heated, Iran's radio and television stations have broadcast an announcement issued by the Supreme Judicial Council about a roundtable discussion to be held in the Ministry of Justice on the first of April. The announcement, furthermore, invites the critics of the proposed bill to designate two signatories of the "Statement" to hold a joint session with two representatives of the Supreme Judicial Council, two representatives of the Guardian Council and two representatives of the Legislative Committee of the Majles, in order to exchange their points of view regarding the bill. Such an invitation, however, assumes that criticism of the bill is limited to the signatories of the statement and thus only their representatives should be invited to participate in the scheduled roundtable meeting. In fact, however, letters coming forth from across the country reflect widespread support of our statement about the bill. In Tehran, too, a number of judges have expressed their dismay over the fact that they have not been able to sign the statement or informed about it.

On the other hand, the statement's signatories have never claimed to be the most qualified in the field of social problems or Islamic jurisprudence. How, then, one can answer the question why only their representatives should participate in the roundtable discussion and why our society should be deprived of the knowledge and expertise of other jurists and scholars who have either- for their own reasons- been reluctant to elaborate openly on their criticisms, or have been unaware of the existence of the statement itself.

"We expect leaders and responsible government authorities to take into account the requirements of our times and the best interest of Islam."

In addition, serious debates and discussions on social or scientific problems, especially in the area of penal system and its systematic restructuring in a revolutionary society- cannot be limited to a particular time or constrained by formalities or propagandistic statements. Open discussions of such vital issues alternatively touch upon finer scientific facts, social and religious imperatives, and questions of policy and procedure. They should be conducted, therefore, in calm and civil atmosphere imbued with the love of learning and research, and away from the gaze of spectators, reporters and television cameras, lest these extraneous factors curb the freedom of thought and expression of the participants. However, the proposed round table is similar to a council where the words and personality of the participants are exposed to all kinds of spectators and where no scientific or social problem has a chance to be solved. Such a round table, a most suitable forum for an electoral debate among Western parliamentary or presidential candidates, is normally used to obfuscate the truth by resorting to rhetoric and trivial points. This forum is not, therefore, the proper setting for an objective scholarly discussion.

We have no desire to take part in such propagandistic shows and are surprised to see that men who have been raised in religious schools and away from superficial embellishments have become so deeply fascinated by this manner of thinking. They have, by their reactions, subjugated the scientific spirit to political maneuvers. Which university or scholarly institution has sought to arrive at the truth by resorting to propaganda or rhetorical discussions? The issue of altering the country's penal system is more important, and more complex, to lend itself to solutions formulated at such levels. At this juncture, the reputation and honor of a universal religious ideology, the life and liberty of a revolutionary and hard-pressed nation, and, last but not least, the future of the country are at stake. How can these momentous issues be summarily dealt with in a limited and perfunctory discussion? If we are truly seeking logical solutions and revolutionary interpretations of Islamic principles, then we must welcome the contributions of all capable and experienced individuals so that we could construct the desired penal system, within the framework of Islamic principles, through a specific plan that relies on the findings of research groups, regardless of how long all the process might take. In a word, we believe that merely translating and adopting the treatises of religious scholars- as valuable as their thoughts and religious judgments are- would not nearly satisfy the needs and requirements of a modern society. The contemporary generation must be allowed to seek, on the basis of divine tenets, those solutions that best suits its life. Let us pay more attention to the loftier goals of the divine lawgiver. Let us set aside the form and reach for the substance.

We have not quite benefited from, or hold pleasant memories of our experiences with, the western penal system either. It is, after all, a system more immersed in material motives than in spiritual values. Yet, the advances made by scholars, psychologists and sociologists in the area of penal policy do not belong exclusively to West or East. They are the achievements of humanity and human civilizations, not to be dismissed lightly by anyone. One, therefore, must utilize them in order to ensure the social order and the well being of citizens. So should scientific discoveries be used and incorporated in a society's native culture.

In our statement, we had referred to the roots of reform movements that will eventually lead to the emergence of a new interpretation of the issue of retribution. We continue to insist on the validity of these movements, particularly on the necessity to recognize the public nature of homicide, to safeguard the rights of women and to prevent the commission of acts of retribution by individuals. It is our hope that our jurists and scholars continue to further contribute to these reforms.

Finally, we would like to briefly emphasize and elaborate on a number of essential points in order to further clarify the purpose of our original statement.

1. Islam is, foremost, a school for edification of man, for elevating the individual's spiritual capacity so that he becomes ready to tread God's path easily and think more about altruism and self-sacrifice than self satisfaction. But in a legal system, the objective is to train just and disciplined citizens who respect laws of the land and avoids unjust deeds. The function of law and its relationship to morality is not the same in the foregoing systems. In a religious society, law is thoroughly intertwined with ethics and, therefore, will lose its essential characteristics without the imprint of religious tenets. As an example, the value of a testimony is intrinsically related to the witness's faith and sense of responsibility without which his testimony would be devoid of real meaning. The Koran advises the believers: "Do not bear false witness, for he who does, would at heart be a sinner." A true Muslim, therefore, would not give false testimony and does not think of it as an obligation, for, he does not wish to become a sinner and believes that God is aware of all he does. Furthermore, he who has heeded Koran's command: "Do not turn the truth into falsehood or hide it," shall not twist the truth or hide part of it. But, how can one expect a faithless witness to abide by these commands? In present day populous societies where one can not know everyone else or tell the just from the unjust, it is both dangerous and harmful to simply rely on testimony. So is reliance on sworn testimony which a true Muslim avoids but materialists are willing to resort to hundreds of times every day in order to mislead others.

"The suggested round table, which is worthy of the electoral debates and propaganda campaigns prevalent in Western societies, is not useful for a scholarly discussion since it is normally used to trifle with the truth."

In the case of retribution, Koran also advises Muslims to avoid excessive use of retributive killing and extols the value of tolerance and forgiveness. However, such commandments are not legally sanctioned even though they could be effective factors in abating the desire for violence and vengeance. Indeed, Islamic jurisprudence is based on a combination of these ethical and legal codes, which will lose their original meaning and purpose if they are relied upon selectively and not as a whole.

Furthermore, to truly guarantee the enforcement of the law one must prevent a clash between legal and ethical principles. Thus, prior to enactment of any legislation, one should make sure that it does not violate the society's cultural norms, otherwise, before long, the law would be confined to the paper it is written on while the society continues to move on the old paths. Therefore, in order to be able to implement the law effectively, the prevailing cultural norms must undergo a truly revolutionary change. In other words, new laws must reflect, and be compatible with, the evolving cultural norms. Or, at least, the public should gradually be exposed to new legal norms and commensurate cultural values. Without such precautions, mere reliance on law, verdicts of the courts or law enforcement agencies would not produce the desired objectives. Forceful and violent imposition of a new legal system on society will turn off the hearts and minds of the citizens and replace true belief with a desire for dissimulation and resistance.

2. The meaning of "Islamic standards" and "religious principles and commandments", which are specified in Articles 4 and 72 of the Constitution, as the fountainhead of legislation, do not require unbending adherence to the opinions of past religious jurists. One must not confuse the opinion of a religious jurist with primary religious tenets. An individual's interpretation is always informed by personal desires and judgments and influenced by society's understanding of justice. For, man's perception and judgment are subject to social, political and economic conditions of his time. One, therefore, must no fear new interpretations of religious tenets. One must also bear in mind that the requirements and perceived interests of society will inevitably affect one's opinions. Indeed, many of the rules and commandments contained in Islamic jurisprudence have been issued by those religious jurists who sought to satisfy such needs and interests. As conditions and requirements change, so do opinions and religious fetwas accordingly. In today's world, social requirements inform learned opinions and provide the necessary justification for all legislative acts. Such a process is not alien to Islamic jurisprudence. Examples of this tradition may be found in the writings of learned Islamic jurists such as Mohamad Shatebi.

3. We particularly warn the drafters of the proposed "Retribution Bill" over the rights of religious minorities which have not been addressed in the bill. According to Artocle 14 of the constitution: ". . . the Islamic Republic of Iran and all Muslims are duty-bound to treat non-Muslims fairly, accord them the benefits of Islamic justice, and respect their human rights. . ." No punishment is prescribed in the "Retribution Bill" for a Muslim who murders a non-Muslim. There is also no reference to the punishment of a non-believer who kills a Muslim. The drafters have apparently opted for an expedient approach to the issue and, therefore, have left their true intent unspecified so that in practice they could resort to authoritative fetwas of Islamic jurists.

We find such a scheme to be inappropriate and in violation of the principles of Islamic justice. If the omission is not rectified, the enemies of the Islamic revolution will accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran of sanctioning religious and ethnic discrimination and promoting the standards of the slavery period. They might even compare the Islamic Republic of Iran with the government of South Africa. The fact is however, that in numerous treatises on Islamic jurisprudence the punishment of a Muslim who murders a non-Muslim has been stipulated. The prophet himself is quoted as having said: "He who hurts a non-Muslim, has hurt me." Therefore, if there is room for new religious interpretations, now is the time for affirming the unconditional equality of these minorities with Muslims in penal matters, especially since, according to Articles 14, 19 and 20 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, it is incumbent on the government to assure the implementation of this principle.

We do not claim to know the solution for all our problems. Conversely, no one should assume our approval of the developments about which we have remained silent. But we expect the leaders of the government to pay attention to the requirements of our times and the interest of Islam and realize that their most important task is to assure that our people don't lose their faith in Islamic justice. It is this concern that compels us to ask you again to change course, legislate with due deliberation and revise the proposed bill according to social requirements and new interpretations of Islamic principles.

"Even now, some members of the Majles are trying to prevent the nation's representatives from publicly expressing their views on the proposed penal bills.

***

Names and professions of the signatories:

A: University Professors

1.Dr. Nasser Katouzian, School of Law, 2. Dr. Ali Azemayesh, School of Law, 3. Dr. Hormoz Hekmat, School of Law, 4. Dr. Javad Sheikh-el-Eslami, School of Law, 5. Dr. Abbas Milani, School of Law, 6. Dr. Abdolhamid Abolahmad, School of Law, 7. Dr. Mohammed Razavi, School of Law, 8. Dr. Behrouz Akhlaghi, School of Law, 9. Dr. Jamshid Momtaz, School of Law, 10. Dr. Mohammed Salar Nasri, School of Law, 11. Dr. Ghasem Eftekhari, School of Law, 12. Dr. Mohammed Fard Saiidi, School of Law, 13. Dr. Fatemeh Ghadimipour, School of Law, 14. Dr. Mohammed Ashouri, School of Law, 15. Dr. Heideh Pirayesh, School of Law, 16. Dr..Mahmoud Souresrafil, School of Law, 17. Dr. Keyvan Azari, School of Law.

B: Judges

18. Reza Mostofizadeh, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 19. Mohammed Moghtader, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 20. Seyed Mohammed Taghi Mateen, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 21. Behrouz Homayounfar, Chie Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 22. Mohammed Reza Dadashhi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 23. Hosein Elahi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 24. Touraj Mostofi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 25. Hosein Falahkheir, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 26. Maleki, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 27. Raman Peerouznia, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 28. Iraj rezaii, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 29. Farzam, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 30. Habib Araabi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 31. Houshyar, Chief Investigator, District Court, 32. Naveebi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 33. Seyed Mohammed Moeenian, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 34 Massud Naraghi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 35. Taghi Razeghi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 36. Reza Ardebili, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 37. Massudi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 39. Mohssen Tajvidi, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 40. Seyed Abbas Shafati, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 41. Abazar Khakpour, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 42. Nasser Bigdeli, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 43. Enayat Allah Kiadaleeree, Investigator, Office of the Prosecutor, 44. Dr. Jalal Khalilian, Deputy prosecutor, 45. Yahya Massudi, Deputy prosecutor, 46. Rassul Rakha, Deputy Prosecutor, 47. Taghi Vahidi, Deputy prosecutor, 48. Mohammed Sadegh Mussavi, Deputy prosecutor, 49. Feeruz Faghih, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 50. Medi Hafezi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 51. Mohammed Ebrahim Taef, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 52. Amir Hosseinabadi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 53. Gholamreza Amid, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 54. Kheirmorad Jalilvand, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 55. Mojtaba Pouya, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 56. Ebrahim Ahadi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 57. Aziz Vahidi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 58. Ezatollah Sheikholeslami, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 59. Mojtaba Kazazi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 60. Yunis Ghahramani, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 61. Alireza Baghaii, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 62. Yunis Baghaii, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 63. Nassereldin Moravejihassl, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims. 64. Mohammed Hossein Jabarizadeh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 65. Eskandar Mohammedpour, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 66. Mohammed Ali Shayesteh Azar, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 67. Zya Kalantaryan, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 68. Parviz Ansari, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 69. Abulghasem Faghani, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 70. Mohammed Kharrazi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 71. Rasould Shamlou, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 72. Hossein Mohammed Nabi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 73. Fereydoun Tahssildoust, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 74. Seyed Ebrahim Samimi,k Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 75. Abdulah Talezadeh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 76. Ali Shafagh, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 77. Reza Sadat Barnekani, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 78. Mohammed Afsarchi, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 79. Keetash Kasmaii, Chief Judge, Court of Small Claims, 80. Mohammed Hossein Hashemi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 81. Farrokh Aminzadeh Vahedi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 82. Hassan Azani, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 83. [omitted], 84. Mohammed Hemmati, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 85. Reza Hashemi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 86. Rahmatollah Saiidi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 87. Mohsen Sadr Haghighi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 88. Mohaammedvali Salehi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 89. Mohammed Ali Khajehnassir Toussi, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 90. Abulghassem Ghaemmaghami, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, 91. Hossein Azarpour, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court, , 92. Mehei Tavasoli, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 93. Faramarz Zamani Salimi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, Mehdi Abidi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 95. Ahamad Seyban, Counselor to the Circuit Court 96. Amanollah Sadat Akhavi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 97. Ali akbar Lavasanifar, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 98. Ezatollah Arjomand, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 99. Ali Akbar Yalghani, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 100. Massud Karimpour, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 101. Ahamd Sedgh Guya, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 102. Akbar Javadi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 103. Mansur Rasuli, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 104. Shokrolah Rofagha, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 105. Ali Vakili, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 106. Yahya Jalilvand, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 107. Valiollah Dalvandi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 108. Amir Sepahvand, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 109. Ataollah Sabzevari, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 110. Mohammed Ali Gonudi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 111. Hassan Heidarzadeh, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 112. Reza Karimi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 113. Email Mahdavi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 114. Mohammed Reza Mansuri, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 115. Jahangir Mehrabi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 116. Nader Azadi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 117. Ali Mohammed Savad Kouhi, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 118. Ahmad Taghavi, Counselor to the Circuit Court , 119. Mohammed Reza Alamzadeh, Counselor to the Circuit Court, 120. Habib Alizadeh, the General Tribunal attorney, 121. Gholamali Abedi, the General Tribunal attorney, 122. Amin Rafii the General Tribunal attorney, 123. Mohammed Reza Faghih Mohammedi, the General Tribunal attorney, 124. Mohammed Hossein Shahruzi, the General Tribunal attorney, 125. Davood Ruhi, the General Tribunal attorney, 126. Seyed Mohammed Seifzadeh, the General Tribunal attorney, 127. Mohammed Reza Vakilian, the General Tribunal attorney, 128. Jamshid Farhangian, the General Tribunal attorney, 129. Ali Reza Saiidi, the General Tribunal attorney, 130. Seyed Hossein Fatemi, the General Tribunal attorney, 131. Ali Asghar Alimardanni, the General Tribunal attorney, 132. Mohammed Jenabi, the General Tribunal attorney.

C. Attorneys

133. Amir Mashalah Yuzchulu, 134. Akbar Lajevardi, 135. Mohammed Bani Najarian, 136. Sanabargh Zahedi, 137. [Omitted], 138. Davood Fatemi, attorney, 139. 140. [Omitted], 141. Hamid Jannati, 142. Ahmad Hamedsepasi, 143. Mohammed Reza Soltanian, 144. Hejazian, 145. Ali Gharghi, 146. Mohammed Ali Afrand, 147. Mahmoud Jafarian148. Fereydun Musamvi, 149 Mustafa Ranjbaran, 150. Hossein Shamsi, 151. Seyed Ziaeldin Tabatabaii, 152. Nader Rafiei Nejad, 153. Seyed Abulhassan Siahpush, 154. Ahamd Ali Erfani, 155. Manijeh Habashi156. Ali Parheez, 157. [Omitted]. 158. Abulghasem Rezvani159. Reza Khaksar, 160. Dr. Nurali Tabandeh, 161. Dr Abdulkarim Laheejee, 162. Manucher Navaii, Counselor to the Legal Office, 163. Ahmad Bashiri, Counselor to the Legal Office, 164. Assadolah Rafati, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court 165. Hossein Lotfian, Chief Judge of the Court of Small Claims 166. Kheir Morad Jalilmand, Chief Judge of the Court of Small Claims, 167. Gholam Reza Zarrabi, Counselor to the Circuit Court.


[1] In the current Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there are instances where a woman's testimony is categorically not accepted (such as "Moharebeh" or enmity with God, theft, and intentional murder) and others where the testimony of two women is equivalent to that of one man, if given in conjunction with the testimony of other men.

[2] "Revayaat" (singular "Revayat") are opinions and/or quotes attributed to the Prophet and the Twelve Imams of the Shi'a faith, which form a jurisprudential basis for many of the rules and fatwas of subsequent Islamic laws and scholars, respectively.

[3] Sheikh Abu Jafar Toosi (385-460 H- 11th AD). In the opinion of leading Shi'a scholars, after Sheikh Toosi no scholar had the courage to issue Fatwas contrary to any matter dealt with by him for a long time. Sheikh Toosi has been accepted as the leader or the guide of Sh'ias to such a degree that in the books of "Fiqh", wherever the term Sheikh appears it refers only to Sheik Toosi.

[4] Mohaqqeq Hilli (602-676 H- 13th AD). Mohaqqeq Hilli was a very important Shi'a scholar ("Mujtahid") and the last of the Mutaqaddameen (Early Shi'a Scholars.) He was so learned and erudite in "Fiqh" that he is known simply by the title of "Mohaqqeq" or "the researcher." Whenever reference is made to Mohaqqeq, it is understood that it is referring to Mohaqqeq Hilli.

[5] Shahid e Thaani ("Second Martyr") (911-966 H.- 15th,AD) It is said that all the scholars who came after Shahid e Thaani may be counted as his disciples because his scholarly work is taught as a textbook in all the Shi'a seminaries.

[6] Allameh Hilli (648-726 H- 13th AD). A prolific Mujtahid, he was one of the best known Shi'a scholars of his time. There are at least a hundred books written by him that are known, some of which are still in the form of manuscripts.

[7] Pursuant to the law of Qesas, if the next of kin (who have the final say in whether or not to kill one who has committed murder) decide not to exact retribution, the perpetrator will go free, thus making even the crime of intentional murder a private matter in which the rights of society as a whole are completely disregarded.

[8] "Ekrah" (literally meaning reluctance, aversion) in Shari'a means forcing someone to carry out a crime under the threat of harm to himself or his family, which he does willingly, although reluctantly. The difference with committing the same acts under duress is that the element of volition, integral to the former, is not present in the latter, that is, the person under duress has no power in deciding whether or not to commit the act.