on the rise

on the rise

A mother's slap signals mercy for a convicted Iranian murderer

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A mother's pardon for the young man who killed her 17-year-old son, at the very moment the hangman's noose was around his neck, has sent a ripple through Iran. Her slap before pardoning him was her personal last-minute rebuke. Pressure has been building for some time in the Islamic Republic to end capital punishment ; Iran is in the world's top five for executing people. This act of mercy was shown in a small conservative northern town, and it has the whole nation talking about the merits of taking human life as punishment. Not before time says Amnesty International, which notes that executions are on the rise in the country, but this moment may represent a turning point in Iran, which has a hybrid of sharia law and western-style institutions. The family of the victim will instead accept a payment, and the father, a former professional footballer, has said he will use the money to open a football school in his hometown in his son's name. The reprieved man walks free after six years in jail, only burdened by the memory of the street brawl in 2008 that changed his, and his victim's family's lives for ever.