In May, Afshin-Jam interviewed her namesake by phone. Said Fateh: "Don't just help me, help all 'Nazanins' and help us to go back to a normal life." There is no shortage of Nazanins. In yet another case out of Iran -- another travesty of justice under sharia law -- Malak Ghorbany, mother of two convicted of adultery, has been sentenced to death by stoning. In Ghorbany's case, too, Left and Right are united. There are many disagreements on Iran-related issues -- the country's nuclear program, its involvement in terrorism, its Mike Wallace interviews -- but Legal Rights Institute president Lily Mazahery, who has set up a Web site on behalf of Ghorbany, says: "If there is one thing that I have learned from my human-rights work, particularly on behalf of women and girls in Iran, it is that everyone agrees and forms a united front against these atrocities, regardless of his/her political affiliation ... For a Washingtonian, such as myself, such a concept is a virtual miracle."
But the consensus must, in the end, go beyond advocacy for individual women's lives. Michael Rubin, editor of The Middle East Quarterly, is emphatic: "Incidents such as these should underscore just how antithetical it is to U.S. interests to legitimize the regime." But he charges that in Condoleezza Rice's State Department, while "there has been much talk of bribing Iran with incentives ... human-rights preconditions have been taken off the table."
In a piece in the upcoming issue of Rubin's journal, Islamic-studies scholar Denis MacEoin implores us to link human-rights issues more firmly to trade and other agreements: "Islamic countries and ordinary Muslims must be given incentives to observe human-rights norms within their borders and disincentives to apply the sharia in harsh and unjust ways."
He adds that "original Islamic jurisprudence ... does not necessarily mandate such severe punishments." That when Muslims violate human rights, they are not obeying Allah -- they are perpetrating an evil. And good people must continue to protest.