President Obama’s grand strategy to reach out to Muslims keeps running into a problem: reality.
Islamist leaders who impose brutal shariah law against their own people are also a threat to other countries. Obama need to learn that it takes tough actions, not flattering speeches, to get Islamist leaders to drop their stones and nuclear weapons.
Take the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a widow and mother of two in Iran. She has been in jail since 2006, suffered 99 lashes, and was sentenced to be stoned to death for an alleged act of adultery.
At least 15 other people—mostly women—have been sentenced to be stoned. Many families abandon members who receive this death sentence, out of fear and shame. That allows the brutality to continue unabated.
Sakineh’s case, however, is different. Her son brought international attention to her plight, putting himself in jeopardy by doing so. While Hollywood stars tweeted about it to their fans, Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA), alerted conservatives to this injustice.
Iran usually responds belligerently to outside opinion. Yet soon after the outcry reached a crescendo, Iranian leaders announced that the verdict stands but the sentence will be reviewed.
Its response, though inadequate, was not in a vacuum. It comes as Iran begins to realize the impact of sanctions, intended to pressure the regime to halt its nuclear ambitions.
While people decry the barbaric stoning of a woman, governments were acting on a different front to deter a deadly threat to millions of people.
In June, the U.S. passed a law that CWA supported to block Iran’s financing for nuclear activities. It penalizes Iran’s banks and banks in other countries that facilitate business with Iran.
The U.S. also pushed sanctions through the UN. Though not as tough as the U.S. wanted, the UN sanction bans selling military weapons to Iran and restricts trade and financial transactions.
Iran is also feeling pressure from its citizens. Merchants at the bazaar are in the second week of strikes, protesting a plan to increase taxes by 70%. The government is trying to make up the shortfall from falling oil prices. Even without sanctions, the country reportedly is in the midst of a massive economic crisis that may cause people to turn against their rulers.
This perfect storm of opposition may be why Iranian leaders have responded, if only weakly so far, to criticism of stoning Sakineh. They are facing a tinderbox of unrest within their country. International condemnation of their cruel system could draw attention to the fact there are better, more just ways to run a country—not based on brutal shariah law that treats women inhumanely, but Judeo-Christian beliefs that treat all people with dignity.
The exposing of Sakineh’s plight may cause people around the world to understand an important principle: A government that persecutes its own people will be a threat to others.
If we want to see what America’s enemies—Islamist radicals—have in store for us if we don’t stop them, look at Sakineh. Would we want shariah law allowed, in any form, in America? No reasonable person would say yes.