Sunday, April 17, 2011



Morning, meeting with Nick Hopkins, manager of the High Elms visitor centre, and his assistant Alex Filby, about their project of constructing a virtual model of the House, and accumulating as much information as possible about what life was like there in the past. Lyulph also came, and of course his collection of photographs and articles is an excellent basis for the scheme. As one would expect, though, fewer pictures of the inside of the rooms exist, and only of some of the main rooms.

Afternoon, a visit by senior members of the Bangladesh Jamaat Islami, mainly to discuss the recommendations by the US Ambassador at Large, Stephen Rapp, on war crimes issues.

If the government had implemented the proposals made by the International Bar Association following their mission to Bangladesh at the request of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, they would have saved themselves a great deal of trouble.

I also raised with the visitors the vexed question of interpretation of the Islamic law on zina, adultery, following the death of 14-year old girl who was flogged to death for this 'crime'. I was under the impression that zina didn't apply when the girl was raped,and I have asked them to let me have a reference to a ruling by a recognised authority on Islamic law clarifying the matter.

The punishment for the 'crime' of zina is precribed in the Qur'an:

"the committers of zina, male and female, flog each of them with a hundred stripes, and do not let pity for the two withhold you from obedience to God, if you believe in God and the Day of Judgement. And let a party of believers witness their punishment". (XXIV:2)

In the earlier revelation in Surah IV it is provided that if a woman is guilty of lewdness, as testified by four witnesses, she is to be imprisoned for life in her family's house. The four witnesses must be adult males; they must have seen the act, and their testimony has to match the names of the participants and the time and place where the act was committed. (See Mohamed S El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic law,ISBN 0-89259-015-7) In many cases, however, as in that of the Bangladeshi 14-year old, a confession by the participant is enough to secure a conviction, and in other cases, a girl's pregnancy has been treated as conclusive.

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