Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Ateqeh Rajabi, Again

The Ateqeh Rajabi story is getting some legs, but it hasn't got a foundation to put them on yet.

A post at a Free Iran Web site by "Ramin Etebar, MD" gives it a source in "Radio Farda" and cites interviews with "locals."

Meanwhile, Amnesty International added its outrage today to "the reported execution of a girl who is believed to be 16 years old, Ateqeh Rajabi, in Neka in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran, on 15 August, for 'acts incompatible with chastity' (amal-e manafe-ye 'ofat). Ateqeh Rajabi was reportedly publicly hanged on a street in the city centre of Neka."

The only new detail here seems to be that Rajabi was said to be "mentally ill," but that also was in the Ramin Etbar post from three days earlier. Depending on what is meant, that detail could be seen as at odds with the earlier account of the girl that suggest she was sharp-tongued and articulate. Of course, to an Islamic fundamentalist, independent thinking in a woman might look like insanity.

Yet, although AI goes on to write about the execution as an established fact, it gives no details that haven't been in the Internet reports cited by me and others, and does not establish any authoritative source for the story beyond Peyk-e Iran, the original of the Internet posts.

As a journalist of 20-some years, I'm cautious about this story. Nothing I can explain, just a faint odor of rat. Too many details, not enough sourcing.