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Islamic Punishment Protest Email - Photos of Boy's Arm Being Crushed Under Car Wheel

Summary:
Email forward claims that a series of attached photographs show an 8 year old boy in Iran having his arm crushed by a car as punishment under Islamic law for stealing bread (Full commentary below).



Status:
False - Photographs are real but do not depict an Islamic punishment

Example:(Submitted, February 2009)
Subject: Fw: THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE THIS

THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE THIS!!!!!
MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON US!!!

AN 8 year old child was caught in a market in Iran for stealing bread.

In the name of Islam he is being punished, his arm will be crushed by a car. He will loose forever the possibility to use his arm again.

Is this a religion of peace and love?

Iran boy arm under car wheel 1

Iran boy arm under car wheel 2

Iran boy arm under car wheel 3

Iran boy arm under car wheel 4

Iran boy arm under car wheel 5

Iran boy arm under car wheel 6

No religion can ever justify such hideous crimes

Pass it on ......let the world know what's happening in the name of Islam...

Pass this to all, for public awareness.
It must be sent WORLD WIDE!
Even if this message is sent to you more than once, just keep on passing it on!

Photo credit Siamak Yari, Peykeiran.com




Commentary:
The disturbing set of photographs shown above has now been circulating via email, blogs and forums for several years. According to the explanation that accompanies the images, they depict an 8 year old child being punished under Islamic law for stealing bread from a market in Iran. The message claims that the images show the boy's arm being deliberately crushed by a car wheel as retribution for his crime, all in the name of Islam.

However, as is often the case with images that circulate cyberspace, things are not what they seem. While the photographs themselves are genuine, the event they show had nothing whatsoever to do with Islamic law and was not a punishment for stealing. In reality, the stunt was a street performance conducted for the entertainment of onlookers. The photographs were originally published on the Iranian news website Peykeiran. According to information published on the Little Green Footballs blog, a reader who contacted Peykeiran about the images received the following reply:
It seems you have not read the text that came with the pictures. In irna there some who earn their bread by Maareke giry. In our case one of these maarke gir _ha had hired a kid to do those unhuman show.

Photo credit Siamak Yari, Peykeiran.com

Iran boy after stunt
A seventh image, showing the boy after the stunt, is generally left out of the protest message
The first photograph in the series shows a man talking into a microphone and this collaborates the claim that the event is part of a street performance. It appears that the microphone wielding "host" is explaining the stunt to onlookers.

Moreover, most versions of the protest message omit the seventh photograph in the series, which shows the boy sitting up after the stunt, apparently with no serious injuries. Thus, the claim in the message that the boy permanently lost the use of his arm is clearly untrue.

Furthermore, although strict interpretations of Islamic Sharia law do call for amputation or cutting of hands as punishment for stealing, it is unlikely that such a punishment would be carried out on an 8 year old child who only stole bread. Various references point out that one of the conditions that regulate penalties for stealing is that the thief must have reached puberty before a severe penalty would be enforced. Other references suggest that the maximum penalty of hand-cutting may not be carried out on a person who stole minor or inexpensive items, especially if the person stole only food because he was hungry. There are many credible references that describe the Sharia Law maximum penalty for stealing as the possible amputation or cutting of the thief's hands. However, I could find none that described the crushing of the thief's arm under a car or any other heavy object.

©iStockphoto.com/Karen Moller

Cross and Crescent
Misinformation about Islam that circulates via the Internet can increase cultural and religious divisions


Thus, it seems that this long running diatribe against Islam is simply the result of a misinterpretation of the event depicted in the photographs.

Of course, even without the erroneous religious interpretation that has been placed on it, many would consider it reprehensible to use a young child in what appears to be a dangerous, painful and frightening stunt, even if the child was paid for his participation. However, forwarding the email in its present form will do nothing to help this child or others like him.

The obvious excesses and human rights violations perpetrated by such groups as the Taliban under the umbrella of Sharia Law quite rightly generate intense debate and condemnation from many commentators. But, muddying the waters with misinformation such as that contained in this email forward is decidedly counter-productive and will serve only to widen divisions and foster even more hatred and misunderstanding in our already strife-torn world.

References:
Peykeiran
Shari'a Punishment' Photos Misattributed
Islamic Republic of Iran and Penal Codes
Reflections on the Islamic Penal Law
The Legal Penalty for Stealing

Last updated: 12th February 2009
First published: 12th February 2009

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen