The Ashtiani counter-attack: President Ahmadinejad bowls himself with a googly

To me it’s an unexpected twist. The Iranian establishment has launched an apparently calculated counter-attack over the Ashtiani stoning case.

First Iranian MPs and official Iranian news agencies have issued seemingly coordinated complaints about US “double standards” in their criticism of the stoning sentence against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani – the complaint being that with a woman called Teresa Lewis facing execution in Virginia this week, the US has no right to criticise Iran over Ashtiani. The Iranian MP Hossein Naghavi has talked of filing an international complaint if Lewis is executed.

And now President Ahmadinejad has laid in with a speech in New York. Mr Ahmadinejad has basically amplified the message: you (the US) have got over 50 women on death row in your country, so (I paraphrase) shut up about Iran.

Hmmm. How convincing is this strategy? OK, leaders always do it (people like Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao, for example, are past masters), but what sense does it ever make? Two wrongs …etc. It almost has shades of Ijaz Butt’s recent attack on the probity of the English cricket team. How was saying the English players are fixing matches supposed to make the Pakistani players any less guilty or innocent? Blimey, I do believe logic was clean bowled by an argumentative googly with this one.

In the Iran-US stand-off, on the one hand (Iran), a woman has been sentenced to death for adultery (which may be changed to execution for murder), her trial was deeply unfair and the manner of her intended execution (stoning) was outrageous; her supposed “offence” – adultery – was also something that no-one should ever even be punished for.

Then, on the other hand (USA), a woman has been sentenced to death for her role in a murder despite having been assessed as having "borderline mental retardation" (an IQ of between 70 and 72) and despite the fact that the actual killers have not been sentenced to death.

It’s hardly a matter of which is worse, more a case of sorting out the serious human rights issues involved in both of them. So, rather than pondering the tortured logic of the Iranian leadership, please take action on Ashtiani here and Lewis here.

Indeed I’d urge Mr Ahmadinejad, Mr Naghavi and other concerned citizens in Iran to take action on Teresa Lewis (if they can’t brings themselves to do the same for Ms Ashtiani), and for people in the US to do likewise on Ashtiani (and ideally Ms Lewis as well).

So no, Mr Ahmadinejad and other Iranian politicians would do better to clean up their own game before trying this tired trick of seeking to deflect attention.

Attack, as some cricketers rightly know, is not always the best means of defence. Sometimes, you have to accept there’s even something wrong with your technique, go back to the nets, sort out what’s wrong and come back to the crease.

Not sure if Mr Ahmadinejad is a fan of cricket, but I reckon he’d understand my tortured sporting analogy.

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