Jewish leaders condemn Iran stoning sentence

By Jessica Elgot, July 9, 2010
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Leading figures from the Jewish community have supported the campaign to stop the stoning to death of a mother in Iran.

Politicians, rabbis and businessmen put their names to a letter to the Iranian government to stop the action against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery.

The Iranian authorities have now confirmed that the widowed mother-of-two will not be stoned to death, but did not say whether her death sentence had been lifted.

The 43-year-old had already been flogged for an alleged "illicit relationship" outside marriage when another court tried her for adultery.

David Miliband MP, the former Foreign Secretary, said: “People will not tolerate cruelty and barbarism and the world is united in calling to put a stop to it.”

Other Jewish politicians lent their support to the open letter, instigated by The Times, including Margaret Hodge and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. It was also signed by Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice. Sir Sigmund Sternberg, the Jewish businessman and philanthropist, and Sir Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre.

Leading rabbis also lent their support including Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield, head of Reform Judaism and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior Masorti rabbi.

Last updated: 11:28am, July 9 2010