"60 Minutes" asked to back up Allegations Against Islamic Law
19 May 1998
WASHINGTON, DC - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, is calling on the CBS "60 Minutes" news magazine program to back up allegations, made in a May 10 segment dealing with a case of child abuse in Iran, that Islamic law allows a father to kill his children.
In a letter to "60 Minutes" Executive Producer Don Hewitt, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part: "It is my unfortunate duty to bring to your attention complaints our office has received from the Muslim community about alleged misstatements of fact in Sunday's 'Iran vs. Iran' segment on 60 Minutes. In what appeared to be an otherwise well-researched segment, reporter Christiane Amanpour stated:
"'It wasn't an easy case to prosecute, because Islamic law makes it virtually impossible to convict a man of killing his own child.' Also: 'By law here, a father can't be convicted of killing his own child.' The mother's advocate was quoted as saying: 'If Arianne's father had strangled her to death in front of everybody, he would not have been punished.'
"First of all, after consulting several Muslim scholars (including Iranians), I could not uncover any interpretation of Islamic law that permits a man to kill his children. In fact, Islam holds children in the highest regard. One of the first reforms brought by Islam was the prohibition of the pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide. What source did Ms. Amanpour use for these statements?
"...Ms. Amanpour also made reference to the alleged 'inequity of Islamic law.' She then proceeded to detail the amazing progress women have made in Iran since the revolution. How does one reconcile such contradictory statements?
"Second, I find it hard to believe that Iranian law permits such actions. The segment itself refers to the man being 'acquitted' of murder and convicted of hurting the girl. How can a person be charged and then acquitted of an act that is supposedly legal in the first place? Something is wrong here.
"Finally, if by some strange occurrence Iranian law permits, or is silent on such actions, what right did Ms. Amanpour have to smear Islamic law?"
Awad added that the story indicates a need for greater protection of children in all societies. Hewitt has so far made no reply to CAIR's letter or to the allegations of journalistic inaccuracy.