19 January 2011

Iran goes for hanging record

Iran isn't a leader in many things, but no one tops it in hanging. Iran executes more people per capita than any other country, and in absolute numbers is second only to China. Last year the numbers dropped to 179 from 388 in 2009, but this year is off to a record start. In the first three weeks of 2011 the mullahs have already executed 47 of their citizens. It looks like a banner year for the hangman.

Iran has a long history with hanging. It is credited with being the first country in the world to adopt the practice 2,500 years ago. Even the Bible records a hanging in ancient Persia, when King Ahasuerus hanged Haman for plotting against the Jews (Esther 7:10).

Most of this year's hangings are for drug-related crimes although some are politically motivated as well. Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, accused the Iranian judiciary of being, "on an execution binge orchestrated by the intelligence and security agencies."

The fact that Iran is a theocracy, a government guided by religious principles, might lead one to believe it would set a high standard for respecting human life. But that would be naive. The victims of righteous religion are legion. God is a hard taskmaster, as the Bible and the Koran make eminently clear, and those who deem themselves to be in His service must therefore be hard taskmasters as well. At least that's what the mullahs seem to believe.

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