Stoning video could hit support for militants

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The Independent Online

Turbaned men in Pakistan gather around a woman with a black hood over her head. She sits on the ground while they pick up large stones and repeatedly throw them at her until she lies motionless, stretched in the dirt.

The stoning, in the north-west of the country, was apparently carried out by Pakistani Taliban militants, incensed because she was seen out with a man. It was shown in a video obtained by a Dubai television station.The footage is a stark reminder that militants still control areas of north-west Pakistan and impose their harsh version of Islam at will.

Al Aan television, which focuses on women's issues in the Arab world, said it obtained the tape from its sources. It was not possible to verify its authenticity or when it was filmed.

Such videos are not unusual. Last year, Pakistanis were outraged after footage widely aired on television showed militants in the Swat Valley publicly flogging a teenage girl who had been accused of having an affair. The government virtually ceded control of Swat to militants under a deal to end fighting there and some Pakistanis, disillusioned with a police and judiciary critics say are corrupt and ineffective, initially welcomed the Taliban. That video greatly undermined any public support the Taliban had in Pakistan, and this one could further sour public opinion against the al-Qa'ida-linked Taliban fighters.

Stonings occur elsewhere, too. This month Iranian authorities suspended the planned stoning of a woman convicted of adultery – the only crime which carries the death penalty by stoning under Islamic Sharia law – after the case was condemned around the world.

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