This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals.
During his murder trial in Williamsport Pennsylvania in 2006, Brian (born Hosayn) Yasipour's words came back to haunt him. In August 2001, he had killed his four-year-old daughter Susan. In 2002, his wife Millie (Amaneh Jabbari) sued for divorce. In the course of those 2002 proceedings, Brian uttered his loathsome statement to make the point -- incorrectly-- that under Iranian law he could not even be held accountable for the murder, let alone be considered to have committed a fault under which he could be divorced from his wife against his will. Prosecutors seized on the statement during his 2006 murder trial to argue that Brian was calculating that, in Iran (where they alleged he planned to flee), he would be immune from prosecution for the murder of Susan by law or by custom. However, an analysis of court transcripts, interviews, and media coverage of the Yasipour case and contemporary Iranian discussions of filicide illustrates that similar assessments of guilt, sanity, and proportional punishment existed in the Iranian and American contexts. In 2001, it so happened, the Iranian government was reviewing its laws relating to filicide and published a report comparing Iranian laws relating those of other countries (in particular, Mohammad Ishaqi, Mojazat-i pedar va madar dar jorm-e koshtan-i farzand: maddeh-e 220 qanun-i mojazat-e eslami [Tehran: Safir-i Subh, 2001]). This tragedy and this report provide an opportunity to compare the legal and cultural frameworks in the US and Iran regarding the persistent and universal crime of filicide. The essential similarities observed do not imply real or perceived equivalence in how this sort of crime was contextualized. There were meaningful differences between the US and Iranian discourses on filicide. In the US, there was an observable Orientalist gaze that, at times, highlighted what Brian did as an honor crime that would have "made sense" in his "other," original, Iranian culture. While Iranian discussions of filicide at this time saw it as an ill to be remedied, in part, by the reassertion of "dynamic" Twelver Islamic jurisprudence with respect to Iran's criminal code, rather adapting a Western solution. The Iranian criminal code was revised in 2012. The punishment Brian received in the United States – murder in the 3rd degree – was, for all the differences in culture, legal procedure and legal philosophy, quite similar to what he might have expected under Iranian law as it was and is written.