Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Stoning of Soraya M. is fiction

An unpublished letter to the Toronto Star (2009).

Re Violence clouds message, July 17:

The film, The Stoning of Soraya M. is fiction. The book by Freidoune Sahebjam, published in France in 1990 and on which the film was based, was not presented as a true story. The English translation emerged in the United States as factual in every "true and shocking" detail.

In a Toronto Star report of May 28, 1994, Staff Reporter Rebecca Bragg wrote: "Not one detail of the Sahebjam's story can be independently corroborated; all the characters' names are false, and not even the village is named." The author later admitted the book was "reconstructed" from various accounts. He did not name the village because he feared the army might destroy it. Stoning is illegal in Iran.

Bragg continued: "Reviewed at face value as non-fiction across North America . . . the book's figure for stoning deaths of women is now firmly established in worldwide computer information databases." It now virtually impossible to correct the record.

I have suggested the Toronto Public Library insert in its on-line descriptions, which trumpet the book's veracity, a reader alert as to the questionable nature of its content. The Library answered that they get their information from an American source, that I should contact them. Why  must we accept American information unquestioned?

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