Respectful Insolence

Whipped for a couple of beers

If you’re ever in Iran, you’d better be really, really careful about imbibing a little beer:

Norwegian-Iranian Mamand Mamandy had a brutal meeting with police after drinking two beers while on holiday in Iran.
“It’s getting better now, but I am still in great pain,” Mamandy, 35, told Aftenposten.no. “My brother is a doctor, and treated me after the whipping. I was in great pain and could not sleep.”

Mamandy, a Kurd, explained that he was visiting his mother in Baneh, Iran in April when he was arrested by police.

“We were on an outing with family and friends, six or seven in the evening, and were having a barbecue and enjoying ourselves. Altogether I drank two beers. The police happened to drive by,” Mamandy said.

He said that he was immediately arrested and taken to the police station where he was sentenced to 130 lashes. This sentence, for beer drinking, was carried out publicly according to news agency Iran Focus.

“I received 130 lashes on the back of my body. Police whipped me,” Mamandy said. He came to Norway as an asylum seeker in 1999. He lives in Drammen with his wife and they are awaiting Norwegian citizenship.

Assuming that this story is accurate and that there isn’t something more going on here, this is yet another example of religious fanaticism leading to endangering the lives of those who fall into its clutches. There’s really not much more to say about this. Besides, a picture is worth a thousand words (as they say), and there’s one below the fold of the results:

i-798057d1f7cfbb21ebe00938ddef2978-_mamandy_br_d1_jpg_552416g.jpg

Comments

  1. #1 sailor
    May 18, 2007

    I love beer, but it is not worth that!
    However, before we get too hypocritical about it, don’t the US throw people in jail and withhold the key for a long long time if they partake of another relatively harmless drug, namely grass?

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    May 18, 2007

    I can’t speak for Orac but to me, imprisoning people for posession/use of grass is just as much “another example of religious fanaticism leading to endangering the lives of those who fall into its clutches” as for alcohol.

    But yet the extremely addictive tobacco is legal?

  3. #3 Coin
    May 18, 2007

    I am a little bit curious as to the details of how this works. Specifically, if beer drinking is illegal in Iran, then where did the beers come from? Did he bring them from Norway or something? Or is there some kind of thriving underground beer distribution network in Iran despite the fact that it’s apparently illegal enough that drinking it results in whipping?

  4. #4 manfred
    May 18, 2007

    Does freedom really equal booze? (Quite aside from the fact that the US also had an extended period of prohibition – introduced by amendment to the constitution, if I remember correctly – and were consequently a sober and safe country.) Looks quite like the usual Iran-bashing propaganda.

    Funny also how the “asylum seeker” voluntarily returns to his native Iran (i.e. the country where he was allegedly ” persecuted for political reasons”) for a vacation.

  5. #5 DuWayne
    May 18, 2007

    manfred -

    Freedom equals being able to do anything you damn well please, that doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.

    No, the U.S. was not safe or sober during the prohibition on alchohol.

    This is not Iran bashing, it is the bashing of religiosly motivated persecution that happened to take place in Iran.

    Finaly, the asylum seeker returned to Iran to visit his mother. I would assume that you place some value on family and the rights to visit family members.

  6. #6 IAMB
    May 18, 2007

    Sober and safe? During prohibition? I sincerely hope your post is meant as sarcasm, manfred. Sadly, I doubt it is.

  7. #7 Tyler DiPietro
    May 18, 2007

    “Quite aside from the fact that the US also had an extended period of prohibition – introduced by amendment to the constitution, if I remember correctly – and were consequently a sober and safe country.

    You are either grotesquely ignorant of American history or making a very half-hearted attempt at parody. Either way, your post has just made everyone reading this thread dumber. Go away.

  8. #8 Orac
    May 18, 2007

    Quite aside from the fact that the US also had an extended period of prohibition – introduced by amendment to the constitution, if I remember correctly – and were consequently a sober and safe country.

    Manfred has obviously never heard of Al Capone or speakeasies.

  9. #9 jim
    May 19, 2007

    So what are the equivalents for MJ?

    I’ve never experienced either, but I’d place 130 lashes at somewhere between a month and a year in prison. First guess 3 months.

    So how much marijuana smoking would get you a three month sentence under US law, and why is Iran’s law somehow more — what — barbaric? religiously fanatical? — than American?

  10. #10 LogicallySpeaking
    May 19, 2007

    So how much marijuana smoking would get you a three month sentence under US law, and why is Iran’s law somehow more — what — barbaric? religiously fanatical? — than American?

    As far as I know, two wrongs still do not make a right.

  11. #11 Joan
    May 19, 2007

    Those of you positing moral equivalence between a brutal beating for beer drinking and the penalties imposed in the US for smoking pot need to return to reality.

    If you’re caught smoking pot, you get a slap on the wrist, if that — different story if you’re caught dealing it.

    This kind of thinking — “No matter what’s happening in the world, the US is always at least as bad, usually worse,” — is just lame. Why can’t you admit that some things are objectively worse than others? So you think it’s stupid that in the US, marijuana is still criminalized. Fine, it’s stupid. That doesn’t excuse at all the fact that this man was whipped to a pulp for drinking two beers in Iran. Why was he in Iran? Why does that matter? What was he doing drinking beer if he knew it was illegal? Why does that matter, either? Or are you saying that he knew what the punishment would be (unlikely) and therefore deserved the whipping for breaking the law?

    The point of this post was to present an example of the horrific punishments meted out in Iran. Human Rights Watch would most likely agree that the officials in this case went overboard, don’t you think? We’re not talking about the US here, and we’re not talking about whether or not the man should’ve known better — the point is, he was horribly abused by law enforcement. People should know that this kind of thing is the rule and not the exception in countries like Iran. If you want to insist that the US is just as bad because you might have to spend the night in a lockup if you get busted smoking a joint, I’ll decline to share your delusion.

  12. #12 Maronan
    May 19, 2007

    Joan: It’s horrible that religious whackos in Iran are willing to injure people because of their delusions. However, as LogicallySpeaking said, two wrongs still do not make a right. Penalties for mere possession of marijuana can be up to six months or a year, even though use of marijuana in a context that doesn’t harm others is one of our fundamental rights. (We all have the right to control our own bodies and what we put in them.) Furthermore, how do you expect to get any marijuana without buying or cultivating it and getting caught for dealing or cultivating? Both carry much more severe penalties for something anybody has a right to do.

  13. #13 jim
    May 19, 2007

    Of course I believe that what the Iranians did was wrong, and out of proportion for the offence. When I first came across the story, I got a quick hit of outrage too. But this story is getting a lot of play all round the place because it’s an extreme and unfamiliar punishment for what is familiar and normal behaviour to most of us in the West. It’s a great headline — quotable, memorable. Encapsulates an outrage in a few words. A nicely shaped rock to throw at the fundamentalists. Smooth, round, fits the hand perfectly.

    But, having come across it two or three times before, I have to wonder whether it’s so prominent because it shows something important, or because it is so nicely shaped.

    Google “Sharia atrocities”. There is no shortage of horror stories, many of them much worse, objectively, than this.

    I don’t believe that all prison sentences are more humane than all physical punishments, and I don’t believe that a government has any more business restricting pot than they do alcohol. And, for the record, I am not attacking the US laws specifically — pick any country that has a prison regime and laws restricting people’s personal choices.

    Now put this incident in context with those and with the results of the Google search. There’s a lot of injustice to compare against. Where does this story rate on a scale of 1 to 10?

    But it is nicely shaped . . .

  14. #14 William the Coroner
    May 19, 2007

    The American ban against marijuana was not, as daedalus2 stated inspired by religious fanatacism. Religion was a component of the ban on alcohol in the U.S. Marijuana was banned, primarily at the instigation of William Randolph Hearst and cronies, because they had interests in alcohol production and didn’t want the competition.

    Prohibition came about primarily as a vehicle for women’s empowerment, a way of keeping industrial workers sober, and an anti-immigrant/anti Catholic movement (we don’t drink like those degenerate sots coming in from Europe)

    Finally, the post is one example of the religious lifestyle police in Iran worrying and doing things about, oh, beards on men (gotta have ‘em), burkas and education of women (no-no).

  15. #15 daedalus2u
    May 19, 2007

    I don’t dispute that the original motivation of the ban on marijuana was primarily due to the econonomic motives of the alcohol industry, and the continued legality of tobacco relates to the economic interests of the tobacco industry. However, the continued illegality of marijuana (and the harshness of the penalities) is (in my opinion) primarily due to conservative religious sensibilities.

    It certainly isn’t due to any rational assessment of potential harm.

  16. #16 Justin Moretti
    May 19, 2007

    rational assessment of potential harm Like the guy I treated in Emergency, who ate half a dope cookie and was insensibly psychotic for several hours afterwards? Put that stuff in your body if you like, but don’t come near me while you’re doing it.

  17. #17 Amy Alkon
    May 19, 2007

    The continued illegality of marijuana is due to the fact that finger-to-the-wind politicians want to get re-elected by a mostly non-libertarian-leaning electorate.

  18. #18 S. Rivlin
    May 19, 2007

    I am surprised that no one has questioned the fact that the accused was imprisoned and then received 130 lashes, without standing a trial. I think this is the real injustice when the police is the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner.

  19. #19 David C. Brayton
    May 19, 2007

    Something is not quite right with this story….he sought asylum in Norway and then he decides to vacation in Iran to see his mother. I may be mistaken, but isn’t asylum for people that fear for their lives because other governments threaten them?

    I’m not trying to blame the victim–he didn’t deserve 130 lashings for drinking beer. But going back to a country as repressive as Iran is, renouncing your Iranian citizenship / seeking citizenship in Norway, and then drinking beer publicly seems really, really stupid.

  20. #20 Graculus
    May 19, 2007

    If you’re caught smoking pot, you get a slap on the wrist, if that

    Getting caught smoking grass could easily result in you becoming a non-citizen (felons cannot vote in many states after serving their time) and a second class citizen (employment, housing, etc problems).

    who ate half a dope cookie and was insensibly psychotic for several hours afterwards?

    If he was psychotic, it wasn’t grass.

    The continued illegality of marijuana is due to the fact that finger-to-the-wind politicians want to get re-elected by a mostly non-libertarian-leaning electorate.

    Oh, meadow muffins. The War on Some Drugs is extremely profitable for many corporations, plus it appeals to the fascisti and religious reich (these are all overlapping sets). Win-win for the politicians, but I don’t think that the latter two groups can be said to be most of the population of the US.

  21. #21 S. Rivlin
    May 19, 2007

    A just published study claims that marijuana can cause psychotic episodes in certain users.

  22. #22 manfred
    May 19, 2007

    Orac wrote:
    Manfred has obviously never heard of Al Capone or speakeasies.

    Of course I have heard about Al CAPONE and speakeasies.
    Well, I have also heard about South American cocaine cartels who ship tons and tons drugs to the USA and Europe. So why should we prohibit consumption of cocaine as there will always be somebody who illegally sniffs and others who cater to them? By that logic any law is useless, because there will always be someone to break it.
    And of course one does not have to be an FBI expert to know of the relation between alcohol and for instance, domestic violence, so a society that bans alcohol will likely see a decline in violent crime, a fact which should be self evident.
    ____________________________________

    Jim wrote:
    Google “Sharia atrocities”. There is no shortage of horror stories, many of them much worse, objectively, than this.

    And of course, most of them will be found on neo-con anti-Arab hatesites like frontpagemag.com
    The US has no business in the legislation processes in foreign countries – Mister AHMADINEJAD does not dictate US laws either.

  23. #23 DuWayne
    May 19, 2007

    Justin Moretti -

    I find it highly unlikely that that person was just on ingested marijuana. I would guess that there was either something else in the brownie or there was a highly concentrated extract that was sythasized to convert other cannobanoids into THC. The process of which will convert some of the cannabanoids into comething very different, producing a substance that will create a high not dissimilar to that of mescaline.

    S. Rivlin -

    I have heard something about that, I have tried to find the study and can’t. If you know where an abstract can be found online I would love to see it. Click on my tagline for access to my email.

    I would tend to think that people effected that way are very rare. I have used pot for years, with a very wide variety of people and the only times I ever came across that happening to people who were not using other drugs with it, was with a couple of people who had taken an extract like the one I described above. Other than that, only one person I know of actually had an aggressive response to smoking regular, unadalterated marijuana and he has a history of fairly extensive use of LSD – though he wasn’t on it at the time.

    That said, I would imagine that someone who has bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or similar chemical imbalances could potentialy have a fairly agressive response, especialy if it was particularly strong weed.

    William the coroner -

    Actually, the strongest support for marijuana prohibition came from the paper and cotton industries. That is why hemp that contains negligable to no THC was included in the prohibition laws and still stands today – carrying the same penalties that exist for growing “the good stuff.”

    That’s not to say that the alchohol manufacturers didn’t have a hand in it, but keep in mind that the alchohol industry was extremely disorganized and weak at the time, due to the prohibition era. For the most part, it was still a cottage industry, when the marijuana prohibition went into effect. Also keep in mind that Hurst had a huge stake in the paper industry – much more than the alchohol industry.

    manfred -

    So why should we prohibit consumption of cocaine as there will always be somebody who illegally sniffs and others who cater to them?

    I for one, don’t think that we should prohibit it. If people want to destroy their lives with addictive, dangerous drugs, that should be their right. Heroin, the same thing. Of course, there are those who occasionaly use such substances and don’t destroy their lives or end up hopelessly addicted. On the other hand, if they commit horrible crimes, while under the influence of those or any leagal drug, they should be duly prosecuted for their crimes. Just like I think anyone who drives drunk, should be prosecuted far more harshly than they are – attempted manslaughter would be a reasonable charge against drunk drivers, or those driving under the influence of other mind-altering drugs.

    And of course one does not have to be an FBI expert to know of the relation between alcohol and for instance, domestic violence, so a society that bans alcohol will likely see a decline in violent crime, a fact which should be self evident.

    But most certainly was far from evident during America’s prohibition on alchohol. There is no evidence of any decline in domestic violence or any other violence related to alchohol consumption. In fact, the evidence shows that there was neither a decline nor an increase in alchohol related violence, during prohibition. While there was certainly an escalation of violence related to organized crime. It was also during prohibition that organized crime managed to build up a serious power base in this country, which was still a serious problem as short a time ago as the mid-seventies.

    Illicit drugs, prostitution and gambling, should not be crime. When people engaged in any of those activities, violate the rights of others, they should be prosecuted, otherwise, they are engaged in activities that affect those involved. This should well be their right – laws against them are undue restrictions on everyone’s freedom.

    The US has no business in the legislation processes in foreign countries – Mister AHMADINEJAD does not dictate US laws either.

    I agree with you. That does not mean that we should sit back and refuse to criticize religious brutality, or any barbaric laws and customs – any more than we should claim that we’re perfect.

    David C. Brayton -

    While I agree that drinking the beer, was really stupid, going to see his mom was not all that uncommon. As I understand it, some countries, Iran, China and N Korea among them, will allow dissidents back into the country to visit family, especialy due to mitigating circumstances, such as illness. Of course, they are also usually watched very closely while they are there, making the drinking especialy stupid.

  24. #24 Coin
    May 20, 2007

    So how much marijuana smoking would get you a three month sentence under US law, and why is Iran’s law somehow more — what — barbaric? religiously fanatical? — than American?

    I think many people would indeed be of the opinion that a whipping is more barbaric than a three month jail sentence, yes

  25. #25 Chris' Wills
    May 20, 2007

    I am a little bit curious as to the details of how this works. Specifically, if beer drinking is illegal in Iran, then where did the beers come from? Did he bring them from Norway or something? Or is there some kind of thriving underground beer distribution network in Iran despite the fact that it’s apparently illegal enough that drinking it results in whipping?
    Posted by: Coin | May 18, 2007 04:13 PM

    It would, in Iran, depend on his nominal religious affiliation and possibly where he was drinking it.
    Just as it does in Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen or the UAE.

    Odd as it may seem, Iran is liberal in some ways though getting less so.

    If he still claimed (on his documentation) to be a muslim then Sharia (whichever version is used in Iran) would apply and whipping for consumption of alcohol is the standard punishment.
    The ferocity of the whipping is against their religions teaching, as is the apparent lack of a trial, but it is common place in a number of muslim countries.

    If he was drunk and shouting at people or drinking outside a mosque then he would also be in trouble. Irrespective of his religion (please note the concept of atheist doesn’t really exist in Sharia).

    If he was a non-muslim and was drinking alcohol peacefully nothing should happen to him under Iranian law. There are/where legal breweries in Iran but only non-muslims can own or work in them; only non-muslims can sell alcohol and they are only meant to sell to non-muslims (not sure how you tell a Christian/Jewish/Zoroastrian Iranian from a Muslim Iranian).

    I suspect that the police had been tasked with finding him guilty of something (he was a trouble maker with anti-Iranian views after all) and this was the easiest, especially as no mention is made as to what happened to those he was drinking with.

  26. #26 jim
    May 20, 2007

    Coin: I think many people would indeed be of the opinion that a whipping is more barbaric than a three month jail sentence

    Please forgive my harping on this point, but the attitude that all direct physical punishment is more barbaric than all prison punishment is one that I’ve never understood. I remember asking about it in school, many many years ago, and being in a minority of one in suggesting that there could be a scale of equivalence. Everyone concluded that I “just didn’t get it”. Whatever “it” is, I still haven’t “got” it, and I’d be grateful to be enlightened about the roots of the attitude.

    If I were sentenced to be punished, and offered a choice between 20 years in a bad prison, and 3 lashes of a leather whip, I would choose the whipping. I think that the 20 years is a much more “barbaric” punishment. If you think this is unreasonable, then we have no common ground. If you agree with me, then we’re just dickering about the scale of how many lashes is equivalent to how many days or imprisonment, taking into account the conditions of each. Such is my logic. Now, what am I not “getting”?

  27. #27 Chris' Wills
    May 20, 2007

    I think many people would indeed be of the opinion that a whipping is more barbaric than a three month jail sentence, yes
    Posted by: Coin | May 20, 2007

    I’ld opt for the whipping rather than being sodomised or tortured every day in an Iranian jail.

    It would be even more of a no brainer for a female.

    Please remember, these aren’t the soft chain gang / hard labour jails of the US southern states run by fat sweaty bastards wearing sun glasses beating you with whips. Iranian jails are hard.

  28. #28 Jurjen S.
    May 21, 2007

    Coin wrote: Or is there some kind of thriving underground beer distribution network in Iran despite the fact that it’s apparently illegal enough that drinking it results in whipping?
    There is a thriving black market in alcohol in every country on the Persian Gulf where the purchasing of alcohol is restricted, and that includes Iran. It’s actually quite easy to find a party in north Teheran (the upscale area of the city) with booze any given weekend, but then, the more affluent Iranians not only buy off the local cops, but get them to provide protection.

    jim said: Please forgive my harping on this point, but the attitude that all direct physical punishment is more barbaric than all prison punishment is one that I’ve never understood.
    I’d say that the distinction is that any corporal punishment may potentially result in permanent injury, whereas incarceration, in and of itself, will not. Presumably, by “a bad prison” you mean one in which the inmate is likely to be subjected to some measure of physical abuse, either at the hands of the guards or of other inmates, but when the punishment is supposed to consist of incarceration alone, any such physical abuse must be considered to be extrajudicial.

  29. #29 JS
    May 21, 2007

    In regard to the ability to obtain alcohol in Iran, I suspect that the Iranian religious police is not as all-pervasive as it would like to be, at least in the major cities. At least that’s the message from the European newsies reporting from Tehran.

    In regard to asylum seekers visiting their country of origin, it’s not quite as unusual as one might think (oh, and this particular guy has probably not renounced his Iranian citizenship, btw, since from the article he hasn’t yet gotten a Norwegian one).

    If it were Zimbabwe or North Korea, I would be more surprised, but I think there is a limit to what a country like Iran would do to a person who is legally under the protection of a European country.

    You saw the fuss made by Norwegian newsies over the whipping. I don’t imagine that disappearing him would exactly do wonders for Iran’s international image. And considering that there’s still a very real risk of an American attack, Iran needs its international image reasonably intact right now.

    - JS

  30. #30 sailor
    May 21, 2007

    ‘rational assessment of potential harm Like the guy I treated in Emergency, who ate half a dope cookie and was insensibly psychotic for several hours afterwards? Put that stuff in your body if you like, but don’t come near me while you’re doing it.”
    The human mind is designed to deal with the immediate and personal (this includes what you see on TV, which makes the distant close) which is why we are so hopeless at rationally assesssing dangers. Good example – people were too terrified to fly after 9/11.
    This good medical professional, on the basis of one example seems sure he knows what a dreadful thing dope is. In order to make a rational judgment on something like this you need science and statisitics.

  31. #31 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    May 21, 2007

    Which brand of beer? Maybe this guy could make do some commercials for the brewery. The money would help pay for his medical expenses.

  32. #32 jim
    May 21, 2007

    Jurjen S.: I’d say that the distinction is that any corporal punishment may potentially result in permanent injury, whereas incarceration, in and of itself, will not.

    Thank you. That is at least a bright line in principle, if not in practice. Of course, not all permanent injuries need be physical. I’ve always felt that the strongest argument in principle against corporal punishment is that the state should refuse to commit premeditated violence directly. I just have a hard time believing that prison in practice is always ethically preferable.

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