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French cities rally in support of Iranian sentenced to stoning

Protesters gathered in Paris and in several other French cities on Saturday in support of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who faces stoning after she was convicted of adultery.

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AFP - Rallies took place in several French cities on Saturday in support of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who faces being stoned to death after being convicted of adultery.

Around 300 people gathered for a rally in central Paris, including writer Marek Halter and film director Yamina Benguigui.

Benguigui said in a message to Mohammadi-Ashtiani that the demonstration was "to show you with love, determination and without reserve that we will never abandon you".

Smaller demonstrations took place in the French cities of Toulouse, Lyon, Poitiers and Montpellier.

A French campaign to prevent the death of the mother-of-two, who was also convicted of being an accomplice in her husband's death, has gained momentum in the last week, with President Nicolas Sarkozy voicing his support.

A petition for her release has been signed by two former French presidents, and Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni.

France has urged the European Union to threaten new sanctions against the Iranian regime over the case, while EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said talks were taking place with Tehran.

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