From a correspondent

September 10, 2010

In News

This week, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner expressed his willingness to “do anything” to save an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from facing the death penalty for an allegedly committing adultery as well as murder.

In recent weeks, Carla Bruni, Sarkozy’s wife, joined the clamour of voices around the globe calling for mercy for Ashtiani, telling her that “France will not abandon you.”

Mr Kouchner called the sentence of death “the height of barbarism”. He claimed that he was “ready to do anything to save her.” “If I must go to Tehran to save her, I’ll go to Tehran.” Sarkozy’s foreign minister declared that Sakineh’s case had become a “personal cause” for him.

Indeed, very bald statements. One would consider these remarks as indicators of the Frenchman commitment towards human rights, if only he had demonstrated a level of consistency in his enthusiasm for universal justice.

Compare Kouchner’s concerns for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to his reaction to Israel’s bloodbaths—far too many to count—or the countless human rights violations perpetrated by the Saudi Arabian regime. Of course, in those cases, regimes favourable to western interests are being propped up, and it would be preferable for this gang of politicians to dutifully remain silent and indifferent.

In the final days of 2008, when Israel embarked on yet another one of its military adventures in Gaza and slaughtered 1400 Palestinians (more than 400 of whom were women and children), Mr Kouchner’s strongly worded statements were nowhere to be found. Instead, Kouchner proposed a 48-hour truce to allow aid in to Gaza; after which Israel could resume its murderous rampage in this small piece of land.

“I hope there are no ground actions,” he said of the possibility of an Israeli ground offensive, just day into operation cast lead. “I think it won’t be a solution and will only increase the number of dead.” And once the Israelis had reached an acceptable death toll in Gaza, European foreign minister rolled a red carpet in Brussels for the then Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Brussels in order to discuss how best they could strengthen Israel’s stranglehold around Gaza.

Ironically, much of the same forces now claiming such concern for the welfare of the people of Iran are the same ones advocating military attack and sanctions on Iran, actions which have the outcome of harming the Iranian population.

By this, I do not mean to belittle the seriousness of Sakineh Mohammadi’s plight or the importance of the international campaign to save her life. But one might ask, is not the murder of more than 400 women and children also “the height of barbarism?” How many Palestinian deaths would have rendered the Gaza massacre a “personal cause?” Or is this perhaps a desperate attempt by a French administration to divert attention from its expulsion of more than 8,000 ethnic Roma—a matter The European Commission is now looking into?

Kouchner, Sarkozy and the like, are neither the first nor the last of their kind. In the 80s, long before Sarkozy had become a household name, their predecessors had seen no shame in providing Saddam Hussein, one of the most twisted minds in living political memory, with the deadliest weapons; from  Mirage F-1 fighter-bombers to  Super Frelon helicopters, from AS-30 laser-guided air-to-ground missiles to Saddam’s chemical weapons programme; weapons whose ultimate aim was to incinerate many of Sakineh Mohammadi’s fellow compatriots.