Morals of Islam: Rape + Suicide = Paradise

A WOMAN suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.

Samira Jassam, 51, was arrested by Iraqi police and confessed to recruiting the women and orchestrating dozens of attacks.

In a video confession, she explained how she had mentally prepared the women for martyrdom operations, passed them on to terrorists who provided explosives, and then took the bombers to their targets.

“We arrested Samira Jassim, known as ‘Um al-Mumenin’, the mother of the believers, who was responsible for recruiting 80 women”, Major General Qassim Atta said.

“She confessed her responsibility for these actions, and she confirmed that 28 attempts had been made in one of the terrorists’ strongholds,” he said.

Samira Jassim was arrested on January 21. She is allegedly linked to the Ansar al-Sunnah insurgent group.

Two of the attacks for which Samira Jassim admitted responsibility in the video confession took place in Diyala province, in central Iraq, which is considered one of the most dangerous areas of the country.

The Associated Press reports US military figures indicate at least 36 female suicide bombers attempted or carried out 32 attacks last year. Women are often allowed through military checkpoints without being searched, making it easier for them to hide explosives under their traditional robes.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25006101-12335,00.html
For once in my life I am speechless in regard to these abhorrent acts.

‘It’s OK to hit your Wife’, Australian Muslim Cleric Samir Abu Hamza

An Australian Muslim cleric is at the centre of controversy over a lecture where he directed his followers to hit their wives and force them to have sex. In an earlier lecture circulated on the internet last year, Hamza was also recorded instructing his followers that under Islamic law, a man can demand sex from his wives. This runs contrary to Australian law where both partners mutual unvitiated consent is required, even within marriage.

In response Hamza claimed his words where metaphoric – but is this so?

The fact that the Quran and Sunnah allow for a man to beat his wife for disobediance including refusing sexual interourse leads me to the fact that Hamza was merely being honest in the potrayal of his beliefs. However, it is cowardly of him to step back for the sake of PR.
The contentious aya (verse) of the Quran which justifies such abhorrent actions is Surah 4 aya 34:

Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those (women)  you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against
them; God is All-high, All-great.
Surah 4:34 (Arberry English Translation)

The ignorant Muslim apologist will respond in such a manner, ‘well, it says nothing about forced sex’.  In this case we examine the context in which the aya was revealed.  As many of you may know – the Quran contains no context and it is quite useless when removed from it so we must turn to the ahadith (traditions) and the tafsir.

This single aya sufficeintly justifies Hamza’s words in the Islamic context as explained by Ibn Kathir:

(As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct,) meaning, the woman from whom you see ill conduct with her husband, such as when she acts as if she is above her husband, disobeys him, ignores him, dislikes him, and so forth. When these signs appear in a woman, her husband should advise her and remind her of Allah’s torment if she disobeys him. Indeed, Allah ordered the wife to obey her husband and prohibited her from disobeying him, because of the enormity of his rights and all that he does for her. The Messenger of Allah said,

If I were to command anyone to prostrate before anyone, I would have commanded the wife to prostrate before her husband, because of the enormity of his right upon her.)

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

If the man asks his wife to come to his bed and she declines, the angels will keep cursing her until the morning.)

Muslim recorded it with the wording:
If the wife goes to sleep while ignoring her husband’s bed, the angels will keep cursing her until the morning.
This is why Allah said:

As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them (first), abandon them in their beds, (then) beat them.
(This is surah 4 aya 34)

Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir

Islam – Still scared of criticism?

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has launched a new session and will consider a controversial resolution to declare religious defamation illegal.

The resolution is really designed to permit countries with a dominant religion, such as Islam, to squelch any free-speech rights of religious minorities, according to Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council (FRC).

“So for instance, in some Muslim countries, it’s considered blasphemy to just say what a Christian believes — because that is inconsistent with what Islam teaches,” Saunders explains. “Or, to try to switch from Islam to Christianity, that’s considered apostasy, and in those situations you can be punished by death.”

It is debatable whether a voice for religious freedom will be heard. “Rightly so, the world objects to that kind of thing and says to these countries [that] we need to have religious freedom,” Saunders contends. “And religious freedom includes the right to have any religion that you choose and to follow it.”

The Human rights Council is dominated by Muslim countries. The resolution is also expected to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly.

“The idea that free speech should be so restricted is a very dangerous one,” Saunders adds.

Blogger Arrested for 2 Years – Insulting Islam (Malaysia)

Malaysia’s most prominent blogger has been ordered to spend two years in detention under internal security laws after being accused of insulting Islam, his wife said Tuesday.

Raja Petra was detained under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly “insulting Islam and publishing articles on his website, which has tarnished the country’s leadership to the point of causing confusion among the people,” his wife said.

Full Story: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h_0rU9tc6f5grv8KTedN-NRxsy-A

Islamic Preacher: Europeans Are Immoral, Unclean, and Cowardly

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan recently published an article [1] by its columnist Sheikh Nabil Al-‘Awadhi, who is a government-appointed preacher at a Kuwaiti mosque and in the past had a television show called “An Hour of Sincerity” on Kuwaiti Al-Rai TV. In the article, titled “The Qualities of the European,” Al-‘Awadhi states that Europeans are disciplined and law-abiding only because they fear punishment; that they are unclean, since they “only wash when absolutely necessary”; and that they are selfish, cowardly and miserly. It should be noted that in August 2006, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments suspended Al-‘Awadhi from his post as preacher for three months, after he gave a Friday sermon inciting to jihad and calling for harming Jews. [2]

Reformist Kuwaiti writer Ahmad Al-Sarraf responded to Al-‘Awadhi’s article with one of his own, in which he condemned and refuted Al-‘Awadhi’s statements about Europeans. [3]

Following are excerpts from the two articles:

The Europeans’ “Bad Qualities Are Innumberable!”

Al-‘Awadhi’s article, titled “The Qualities of the European,” appeared in his regular “A Word of Sincerity” column in Al-Watan. In it, he wrote:

“In a previous piece, called ‘The Arab Qualities,’ I mentioned some of the bad qualities which distinguish many Arabs, and which Islam calls on us to reject. Some [people], who are dazzled by Western civilization, thought that the examples [I presented in the article] were intended as a comprehensive comparison between the Arabs and the West. But the truth is that I mentioned only a few [Arab] qualities, comparing them with Western characteristics.

“However, as for the West and its characteristics, especially the Europeans – their bad qualities are innumerable! This article does not mean to [discuss] all the European qualities, [but] only some of them – in particular those having to do with their relations with one another.

“Europeans Today Are Disciplined, Law-Abiding, and Punctual… Because They Are Afraid of Penalties”

“As for the Europeans’ relations with the Creator, animals are better than they are… for they do not permit what is permissible, and do not forbid what is forbidden. Moreover, whenever they find a way to please the Devil, they pursue it. I do not believe that Satan [ever] imagined that his temptation of humanity would [yield] such an extent of heresy as well as moral depravity and decay.

“Most Europeans today are disciplined, law-abiding, and punctual. But they behave in this manner not because they believe in [these virtues], but because they are afraid of penalties and fines. Just imagine, dear reader, a civilized city like London, New York, Paris or Frankfurt with the electricity cut off for even one day. What do you think the European man, in his elegant suit, and the European woman, with her elegant figure, would do?

“[Imagine] just one day without electricity, during which the surveillance cameras and the alarm systems fail. In this situation, these civilized people would turn into wild animals that would devour everything!!

“Yes, that is the truth about the West. It is not restrained by religion, values or virtue, but only by fear of punishment and fines. Furthermore, without surveillance, even the police would take part in the thievery.”

“Had Allah Not Given [the Europeans] a Cold Climate, Their Stench Would Have… Driven Away the Birds and Withered the Vegetation”

“Europeans [also] usually smell bad, because they do not wash until it is absolutely necessary. They do not clean themselves properly after urinating, nor do they wipe the filth off [themselves]. Whoever mingles with them notices this characteristic. If Allah had not given them a cold climate, the stench would have been overwhelming, driving away the birds and withering the vegetation. For real cleanliness means nothing to them.

“Other bad qualities which characterize the Europeans like no others are cowardice and stinginess. You encounter a European of impressive appearance, and you believe him to be brave and strong. But as soon as you put him to the test, you find him to be a craven coward. On many occasions, I have seen them make a big racket, like barking dogs, but once confronted, they run away like rats…

“Usually, they do not aid those who are wronged or help those in distress, except seldom. Many a time have I seen people being beaten and old people lying injured on the ground, with no one lifting a finger to help them. They pay no attention to others and think only of themselves.”

“The European is Miserly Even Towards His Own Wife and Children”

“As for stinginess, the Europeans are the very model of it. The European is miserly even towards his own wife and children. He may dine with his wife in a restaurant, and then each of them pays their own bill!! And when his son or daughter turns 18, he asks them to pay rent for living under his roof!

“Just as generosity and courage are man’s finest qualities, so are stinginess and cowardice his worst, and the latter are especially characteristic of the European. He lives for his material interests only, and does not recognize social ties. Father and mother usually mean nothing to him, and even his children – his only interest in them is materialistic.

“Most of the Europeans today are racist, especially the Germans and the French. They despise one another, and [also] despise others. They believe that they deserve a good life, while others have only the right to serve them. Those compelled to live among them experience this racism. Given an opportunity to crush the others, [the Europeans] would grab it without hesitation. In fact, their history [provides] proof of this evil quality.

“I do not write this article out of hate or resentment, though, by Allah, I do hate the infidels among them. I have written this article in fairness, so that those who are impressed with the West will not be deluded and will not think that I am dazzled by the Europeans. For, as I have said, their bad qualities are innumerable. By Allah, even one Muslim who worships Allah is better than all the infidels in the world, even if their appearance impresses some people.”

Reformist Al-Sarraf: Looking At the Europeans’ Achievements, “We Are Shocked – Not Only by the Extent of Their Progress, But Also By the Extent of Our Own Backwardness”

In his rebuttal to Al-‘Awadhi, reformist Kuwaiti writer Ahmad Al-Sarraf wrote: “A simple and quick comparison between the societies in the Gulf and those of Europe reveals enormous differences in education, agriculture and economics, not to mention space exploration, trade, tourism, archeology, hotels, roads, and basic utilities like electricity, water and alternative energy sources. If we examine their scientific institutes, [their] progress in medicine, and the standard of [care in] their hospitals, we will be shocked – not only by the extent of their progress, but also by the extent of our own backwardness, lack of productivity, and scanty participation in human enterprises.

“A quick glance at the moral differences between the two societies will [also] shock us… In Europe, [punctuality] is sacred and the work [ethic] is honored, while dishonesty is rare. In our societies, [on the other hand], the opposite is true.

“[When we consider] their cultural and humanitarian role, and their contribution in all areas to humanity as a whole over the last three centuries or more, we are astonished – not only at how little we have contributed, but [also] at the amazing number of calamities and woes that shameless fools from amongst us have inflicted upon the world, especially upon the West.

“Space does not permit [me] to enumerate the reasons for [the difference between the two societies]. However, there is no better proof of the greatness of Western culture, and of its values and ethics, than [the testimony] of the Saudi preacher ‘Aaidh Al-Qarni, whose affiliation with a strict Islamic school did not prevent him from writing [the following words] during his first visit to Europe last March. [He wrote:] ‘I am [currently] in Paris for medical treatment. I have been consulting doctors, visiting libraries, observing people, and looking at the way they behave towards each other. I have found polite and friendly people of refined culture, good qualities, and fine sensibilities. I have also found punctuality and a well-ordered way of life. [As for] us Arabs, Ibn Khaldun has preceded me in describing us as wild and uncouth. Some of my fellow clerics are coarse of character and have a desert mentality. We need an institution to train us in good manners, and another to produce high officials who are gentle, compassionate and humble… [and who] treat people decently.’ This is what Saudi preacher Al-Qarni thinks of the Europeans.”

“Kuwaiti preacher Nabil Al-‘Awadhi, who writes for Al-Watan and belongs to the very same religious school as Al-Qarni, has a completely different view of [the Europeans]… [He thinks that] ‘their bad qualities are innumerable.’ His lengthy article contains much censure, invective and abuse, and I have quoted from [it] only in order to expose… the attitude towards others held by some of us – especially towards those who are most advanced, cultured and respectful [of others] and who have contributed the most to other nations.

“I should note that I do not read Nabil Al-‘Awadhi’s column, but that someone who read it told me that he had translated it and intends to distribute it to the European embassies in Kuwait… so that, if [Al-‘Awadhi] ever applies for a visa to receive medical treatment in one of their countries, they can confront him with what he wrote.”


[1] Al-Watan (Kuwait), August 17, 2008, http://www.alwatan.com.kw/Writer%20Article%20Viewer/tabid/164/Default.aspx?article_id=439614&AuthorID=1087.

[2] Al-Qabas (Kuwait), August 6, 2006; Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments website, http://islam.gov.kw/site/news/details.php?data_id=3865.

[3] Al-Qabas (Kuwait), August 25, 2008, http://www.alqabas.com.kw/Article.aspx?id=424482&date=14092008.

An Interview with Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel is a wonderful author and activist who has first hand experience dealing with Islam, Islamic extremists and Islamic terrorist organisations. Here is an interesting interview that appeared on the New York Times website.

I recommend her book ‘Because They Hate’ to anyone interested in Islamists, the Lebanese Civil War, Role of Israel in Lebanese Christian resistance or just a touching human story.

As a Lebanese-Christian immigrant who spent her girlhood amid the bloody devastation of the Lebanese civil war, you have lately emerged as one of the most vehement critics of radical Islam in this country. Are you concerned that your new book, “They Must Be Stopped,” will feed animosity toward Muslims? I do not think I am feeding animosity. I am bringing an issue to light. I disapprove of any religion that calls for the killing of other people. If Christianity called for that, I would condemn it.

What about all the moderate Muslims who represent our hope for the future? Why don’t you write about them? The moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant. I grew up in the Paris of the Middle East, and because we refused to read the writing on the wall, we lost our country to Hezbollah and the radicals who are now controlling it.

In your new book, you write about the Muslim presence in America and bemoan the rise of Islamic day schools and jihad summer camp. Is there really such a thing? Yes. Instead of taking lessons on swimming and gymnastics, the kids are listening to speakers give lectures titled “Preparation for Death” and “The Life in the Grave.”

You also lament the public foot baths that have been installed at the University of Michigan and elsewhere to accommodate Muslim students. I lived in the Middle East for the first 24 years of my life. Never once did I see any foot-washing basins in airports or public buildings. So why are they pushing them down the throats of Americans?

I can’t get upset if people want to wash their feet before they pray. This is the way they are taking over the West. They are doing it culturally inch by inch. They don’t need to fire one bullet. Look what is happening in Europe. Do we want to become like “Eurabia”?

But relatively few Muslims live in this country — about three million, or 1 percent of the population, whereas Amsterdam, for instance, has been estimated to be as high as 24 percent Muslim. They started as guest workers in Europe; they grow at a much faster rate than any other religion.

Your last book related the story of your childhood in southern Lebanon, where you hid out in a bomb shelter for seven years after your house was destroyed by a Muslim militia. Were you surprised it became a best seller? No, I was not surprised. Anyone can relate to a story about human suffering inflicted by radicals.

Are your parents still in Lebanon? I became an orphan at the age of 23. Both my parents are buried in Israel, on Mount Zion, with Oskar Schindler.

Why did you bury them in Israel? I wanted to honor my parents. After all, it is the Holy Land. And I wanted to ensure that both my children will know where my loyalty lies — with Israel, because Israel for me represents democracy, respect and human rights, something that no other country in the Arabic world offers.

Are you an agent of the U.S. government? No.

Are you underwritten by the C.I.A.? No. Are you kidding? In 2000, I voted for Al Gore.

But I see that R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., serves on the board of American Congress for Truth, your educational foundation. We also have John Loftus, a staunch Democrat and former Justice Department prosecutor. We are not Red or Blue.

Where do you live? I do not share that information because of the death threats I receive.

Threats from anyone we know? Al Qaeda mentioned my name on their top Internet sites and recently sent a press release about my work.

If you are worried about death threats, why would you put a glamorous photograph of yourself on the cover of your new book? In Lebanon, we were raised to be glamorous, feminine and sensual. It’s the only good thing we inherited from the French.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/magazine/17wwln-Q4-t.html?_r=1&ref=books&oref=slogin

Clerics Warn Women Against Leaving Their Homes (Yemen)

A group of Yemeni clerics warned women from going outside of their homes. The order, they claim, is to protect society from “vice and sexual chaos”.

The clerics also said that political role for women contradicts Islamic values.

“We warn against opening the door for women, who will get out of their houses and mix with men,” the clerics stated in a booklet distributed during a meeting.

“Women getting out of their houses and mixing with men in places of work will lead to non-marital relations … loss of decency, adultery and illegal children,” the booklet said.

A question to these clerics would be- why is the onus on the women to give up her basic rights? A woman cannot cause a loss of decency or commit adultery without a man.  Shouldn’t they both be equally culpable?

It is this backwards thinking that does not do women any justice.

Geert Wilders: Prisoner of Islam

By Diana West

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands — Having run the polite-but-grim gauntlet of Dutch government security to gain access to Geert Wilders, I finally understood what the 24-hour security requirements of the man’s continued existence really mean: To make the survival of Western-style liberty in the Netherlands his political cause, this Dutch parliamentarian has to live under high-tech lock and key.

This stunning paradox, with no end in sight, illustrates how far political freedom in the West has already eroded. Think of it: For writing about the repressive ideology of Islam, for arguing against the inequities of Sharia (Islamic law), for making a video (“Fitna”) to warn about Islamic jihad, Wilders lives in his own non-Islamic country under a specifically Islamic death threat.

If it is politically incorrect to notice this, it is also indisputably true. True, too, is that, sans state security, this death threat could conceivably be carried out anytime, anywhere — from the picturesque streets outside the Dutch parliament, to the house Wilders hasn’t slept in since 2004. That, of course, was when, on an Amsterdam street, a Muslim assassin plunged a knife into Theo van Gogh’s corpse, thus attaching the Islamic manifesto threatening both Wilders and his then-parliamentary colleague, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with death.

Not long ago, political debate in the Netherlands met with, well, more political debate. Now, however, with a growing Muslim minority — and it’s politically incorrect to notice this, too — political debate sometimes meets with Islam-inspired political assassination. At least it has, traumatically, twice in recent years: once, with the 2002 murder of the anti-Islamic-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn by an animal rights activist who claimed Fortuyn was scapegoating Muslims; and the following year with the ritualistic Islamic murder of Van Gogh, director of “Submission,” a short video made with Hirsi Ali about Islamic mistreatment of women. In all, such Islam-inspired violence has been enough to chill Islam-inspired debate.

And that’s just the situation at home. This week, even as Amsterdam’s chief public prosecutor, Leo de Wit, announced that no charges would be brought against Wilders for “discrimination” or “incitement to hatred” related to Wilders’ writings or video, Jordan announced it is bringing a “Fitna”-related criminal case against the Dutch parliamentarian.

In other words, Jordan will indict a Dutch politician according to Jordanian (read: Islam-inspired) law. “Jordanian authorities are not aiming to arrest” the Dutch leader of the Freedom Party, Radio Netherlands Online reports. “They say the decision to prosecute was taken in order to send a signal to the Netherlands.”

A “signal”? How about a gag? Of course, like other Western peoples, the Dutch seem content to censor themselves, happily mouthing multicultural platitudes that effectively rationalize their own culture’s Islamization. Not Wilders.

I recently asked the 44-year-old Dutchman what was stronger in his country: Islam or multiculturalism.

“Unfortunately, they are both strong,” he replied, seated in his lightly furnished but heavily guarded office. “But cultural relativism is the biggest problem.” He went on to explain: “Multicultural society would not be that bad — I don’t really believe in it — but it would not be that bad if, at least, we would be strong enough to say that our culture is better and dominant. But when you combine multicultural society with a dominant sense of cultural relativism, you are heading in the wrong direction. You are committing suicide when it comes to your own culture.”

Hoping to preserve the primacy of Western culture in this Dutch corner of the West, Wilders advocates a halt to Islamic immigration. “I’m not saying that every Muslim in the Netherlands is a criminal or a terrorist,” he explains. “We know the majority is not. Still,” he continues, “there is good reason to stop the immigration, because the more we have an influx of Muslims in the Netherlands, the strength of the (Islamic) culture will grow, and the change of our societies will increase.” He sees his efforts as “a fight against an ideology that I believe at the end of the day will kill our freedom, kill our societies and change everything we stand for.”

He’s right — and, yes, it’s politically incorrect to say that, too. Everything the West stands for, starting with freedom of speech, is already changing as our institutions, up to and including, for example, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, increasingly proscribe critical references, or indeed, any references to Islam. While it’s clear that the European manifestation of Islamic ideology has already killed Wilders’ personal freedom in the Netherlands, the general impact on freedom throughout the West has yet to be fully appreciated.

“I have a mission,” Wilders said. “I believe very strongly in what I say, and my party fortunately shares this view. And nobody in the Netherlands is doing (what I do). And somebody should. And I pay a high price for it.”

What is the expression — freedom isn’t free? This is literally and acutely the case when it comes to this heroic Dutchman.

Crossroads in History: The Struggle against Jihad and Supremacist Ideologies

In fighting Islamic supremacism, instead of an approach only based on tactical measures and efforts at clever twists of terminology, what if America had a true strategy that was instead based on the defense of our values on human equality and liberty?

The true challenge of Islamic supremacism to America and the free world is not about Islam, Islamism, or terrorism, but about us. It is a historic challenge to determine whether we truly have the courage of our convictions on equality and liberty and we are willing to fight for these ideals, or if we will instead accept the continuing growth of anti-freedom ideologies here and around the world.

Islamic supremacists are counting on their belief that America is no longer willing to fight for such freedoms, that it has gotten too soft to do so, and that regardless of the success or failure of individual Jihadist tactics, eventually we will tolerate a continued growth of Islamic supremacism. The crossroads in history that we stand at remains whether or not we will prove Islamic supremacists correct, or if the idea defined in our very Declaration of Independence and chiseled in a marble memorial in America’s capital – that “all men are created equal” – is an idea that America will once again sacrifice to defend.

America and the West are at a critical crossroads in history in their faltering struggle with Islamic supremacist ideologies and Jihadist terror tactics. Increasingly, groups seek to halt any meaningful debate and halt any challenge to the ideology behind Jihad, and they seek to redirect such debate and action to focus only on the terrorist symptoms of such a supremacist ideology. Such diversionary efforts are being made by non-violent Islamic supremacist groups and activists, government officials, academics, and media commentators. The solution to this can be found in recognizing how Islamic supremacism (as any supremacist ideology) is opposed to our values, and in understanding America’s historical experience in defeating other supremacist ideologies.

Continue reading

Death Penalty for Internet ‘Crimes’

Iran’s parliament is set to debate a draft bill which could see the death penalty used for those deemed to promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the Internet, reports said on Wednesday.

MPs on Wednesday voted to discuss as a priority the draft bill which seeks to “toughen punishment for harming mental security in society,” the ISNA news agency said.

The text lists a wide range of crimes such rape and armed robbery for which the death penalty is already applicable. The crime of apostasy (the act of leaving a religion, in this case Islam) is also already punishable by death.

However, the draft bill also includes “establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy”, which is a new addition to crimes punishable by death.

Those convicted of these crimes “should be punished as “mohareb’ (enemy of God) and “corrupt on the earth’,” the text says.

Under Iranian law the standard punishments for these two crimes are “hanging, amputation of the right hand and then the left foot as well as exile.”

The bill — which is yet to be debated by lawmakers — also stipulates that the punishment handed out in these cases “cannot be commuted, suspended or changed”.

Internet is widely used in Iran despite restrictions on access and the blocking of thousands of websites with a sexual content or deemed as insulting religious sanctities and promoting political dissent.

Blogging is also very popular among cyber-savvy young Iranians, some openly discussing their private lives or criticising the system.

Human rights groups have accused Iran of making excessive use of the death penalty but Teheran insists it is an effective deterrent that is carried out only after an exhaustive judicial process.

The number of executions soared last year to 317 amid a campaign which the authorities said was aimed at improving security in society, and was sharply up on 2006 figures when Amnesty International recorded 177 executions.

All legislation in Iran has to be rubber-stamped by a conservative clerical watchdog before it is written into law. The Guardians Council vets bills to see if they are in line with the constitution and Islamic law.