Woman’s slap saves her son’s killer from gallows


In Iran, Balal Abdullah, now in his 20s, was found guilty of murdering Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a fight in the street seven years ago when they were both 17. Abdollah’s mother and father, who have also lost an 11-year-old son to a motorbike accident, had repeatedly asked for Balal’s execution to be delayed until a date was finally was set.

However, screaming for his life, Balal was dragged out to the gallows by officials, made to stand on a chair and had his head placed in a noose. According to the “eye for an eye” ruling of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim’s family were to take an active role in the punishment of their son’s killer. So it was expected that they would push away the chair on which he stood on the gallows. Yet, instead of sealing his fate, Abdollah’s mother slapped Balal’s face and then signalled her forgiveness. The victim’s father then removed the noose from the convict’s neck.

The victim’s father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, told a news agency that his wife had had a dream three days earlier in which their son had spoken of clemency. He said: “Three days ago, my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they are in a good place and for her not to retaliate.”

But Mr Hosseinzadeh also believes Balal did not mean to kill his son. He said they reconsidered Balal’s fate, and decided he did not deliberately try to kill their son. “Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him,” he said. “Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks.” He added that Balal was “inexperienced and didn’t know how to handle a knife… he was naïve”.

In a literal application of the sharia law of retribution, known as qisas, the victim’s family are allowed to take part in the execution. They also have a say in sparing the death sentence, but not the jail term. So it is not clear if Balal will now be freed.

Meanwhile, the convict’s mother embraced the sobbing woman whose teenager was stabbed to death by her son after her incredible act of forgiveness


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