A Fatwa Against Pets
April 19, 2011 3:00 PM   Subscribe

The Latest Enemies of Iran: Dogs and Their Owners

For much of the past decade, the Iranian government has tolerated what it considers a particularly depraved and un-Islamic vice: the keeping of pet dogs.

Those days of tacit acceptance may soon be over, however. Lawmakers in Tehran have recently proposed a bill in parliament that would criminalize dog ownership, formally enshrining its punishment within the country's Islamic penal code. The bill warns that that in addition to posing public health hazards, the popularity of dog ownership "also poses a cultural problem, a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West."

If passed, the law would ultimately energize police and volunteer militias to enforce the ban systematically.
posted by PepperMax (34 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
And in related news reported today: Chinese activists rescue dogs destined for dinner table.
posted by ericb at 3:05 PM on April 19, 2011


Iran and the US are in an arms race.

Not with nuclear weapons.

An arms race of crazy laws written by over-zealous religious nutjobs who give their respective religions a bad name.
posted by GuyZero at 3:06 PM on April 19, 2011 [18 favorites]


The law would see the offending animal confiscated, the leveling of a $100-to-$500 fine on the owner, but leaves the fate of confiscated dogs uncertain.

Obviously they will be set free in happy-rainbow land.
posted by Glinn at 3:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


If passed, the law would ultimately energize police and volunteer militias to enforce the ban systematically.

Speculation based on what? The Time Magazine article doesn't back it up.

Old news (which may have since been surpassed by newer news): The Indian Government introduced plans to impose a nationwide ban on cow-slaughter across the country, back in 2003.

One person's filthy mongrel is another's best friend, and a third person's next meal.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:19 PM on April 19, 2011


Iran: Rid anything that bites back and requires kibble.
posted by clavdivs at 3:22 PM on April 19, 2011


Wow, the first comment on that article is a doozy:

"Come on PETA let's go we can't stand for this kind of animal abuse. What will happen to these poor creatures? This makes me sick sick sick. These people should be eliminated."

So PETA's supposed to invade Iran? And...kill people?
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:25 PM on April 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I wish Iran still had a US embassy so I could poop on its lawn.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:26 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't comment on dog ownership across different income groups, but I wonder how much of a class war move this is? Many wealthy "westernized" Iranians own dogs...
posted by stratastar at 3:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just finished reading Roy Mottahedah's book The Mantle of the Prophet for a class, and it had this great little anecdote about Iranians' willingness to adhere to religious laws without being obsessive about it. The book says every Iranian knew the story of the mullah who was late for morning prayers, but as he ran to the mosque he passed by a dog shaking itself dry on the side of the road. Water sprayed onto the mullah's clothes, making them unclean for prayers, but the mullah didn't have time to go home and change. So instead he just refused to look the animal in the eye and hurried by, muttering "God willing, it's just a goat."

The phrase has become an unofficial mantra for my fellow grad students as we rush into the last days of the semester. Nothing has to be perfect, just good enough, because God willing, it's just a goat.
posted by lilac girl at 3:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [22 favorites]


I wonder how much of a class war move this is?

Are there many Persians left in Iran? I wonder if it's a Persian-Arab thing.
posted by GuyZero at 3:32 PM on April 19, 2011


Are there many Persians left in Iran? I wonder if it's a Persian-Arab thing.

Huh? Since the vast majority of Iranians are Persians, I'd expect there are plenty of Persians left in Iran.
posted by VikingSword at 3:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is why I believe in non-interference. Every country has the right to govern itself as it sees fit. The advantage to this is that when things go wrong, it's hard to blame outsiders who conspicuously do not interfere. Not that such blame would not be assigned anyway, but that it will transpire to be false upon the slightest examination, and so only the stupid/lazy/uninformed could fall for it.

Meanwhile, let every culture rise and fall on its own strengths. The Iranian government thinks their society would be better off without dogs as pets. Fine. This, and a thousand other cuts. As the gap in quality of life becomes ever larger compared to the West, their culture, I suspect, will evolve quite on its own - so no need for bombs and bullets. For the poor doggies:

.
posted by VikingSword at 3:43 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dogs
According to Quran and Sunnah


"Whoever keeps a dog, one Qirat of the reward of his good deeds is deducted daily, unless the dog is used for guarding a farm or cattle."

I heard Allah's Apostle saying; "Angels (of Mercy) do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature (a human being or an animal)."

The Prophet said, "Were dogs not a species of creature I should command that they all be killed; but kill every pure black one." [Muslim, Narrated AbuDharr: "...The black dog is a devil."]
posted by puny human at 3:53 PM on April 19, 2011


I think SOMEONE had a bad experience with a black dog as a chiiiild!
posted by stratastar at 4:12 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


hey, hey mama said the way you move
posted by clavdivs at 4:12 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


A friend of mine married a female Iraqi engineer he met in Baghdad. She moved to the U.S., and suddenly was the stepmother to his two energetic Boxers. She was not a dog person of course, coming from Baghdad. He told me she was a little freaked out at first, but now those are her dogs, and she loves them fiercely.

I've always felt a little sad that some cultures don't value dogs. Even to value them as food seems somehow better than to not value them at all.
posted by Xoebe at 4:13 PM on April 19, 2011


Not that such blame would not be assigned anyway, but that it will transpire to be false upon the slightest examination, and so only the stupid/lazy/uninformed could fall for it.

How can "only the stupid/lazy/uninformed" fall for something that's the only message in their society? One look at North Korea disproves your hypothesis -- for the most part, other countries have in fact left them alone, yet anti-western propaganda abounds, and the people there are quite convinced that the outside world wants to tear apart the Juche Idea and eat it with hollandaise sauce. Hell, the same could be said for us; remember the Cold War, and how many of us were convinced that Russian infants slid out of the womb burning with hatred for the American Way?

I agree that non-interference is appropriate here, but it's important to admit that nations which govern themselves as they see fit also have the power to change the national narrative to whatever they want it to be, reality notwithstanding.
posted by vorfeed at 4:16 PM on April 19, 2011


Hey, bulldog!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 4:32 PM on April 19, 2011


NK is a special case - I can't think of any country that's more hermetically sealed when it comes to outside information. It certainly did not apply to our erstwhile main competitor - the Soviet Union, which fell at least partially because nobody could hide the disparity between their standard of living and the West, and their choice was to keep falling further behind or attempt reform. And even in the case of NK, I must say I am not convinced that most of their citizens believe the state propaganda - maybe, maybe not, there are no reliable surveys that I know of (btw. I can recommend this excellent book on NK: "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick). And that control over information is breaking down in NK - anecdotal evidence seems to point to more and more dissent and disbelief in NK, so the trend-lines are in the right direction. In any case, as technology progresses, even an NK level of information control will not be possible, without reverting the entire country to stone-age levels of development - in this way, any country that attempts to do such will find its development, and therefore impact on the world, quite self-limiting.
posted by VikingSword at 4:38 PM on April 19, 2011


I think I read once that Mohammed was a cat person. Something about him cutting off his sleeve so he didn't have to disturb a sleeping cat. I always thought that was a rather sweet story.

I wonder how the Iranian government feels about pet cats?
posted by Jess the Mess at 4:44 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently cat ownership is illegal there as well (even though, by some accounts, Mohammed himself was fond of cats). Or so is the rationale behind the title of the film "No-one Knows About Persian Cats", about Iran's outlaw twee-pop underground.
posted by acb at 4:45 PM on April 19, 2011


I've seen the sleeve-cutting story attributed to some Christian saint, though perhaps they plagiarised it to win points with the cat people.
posted by acb at 4:47 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally something I can agree with the Iranian Government on.
posted by stp123 at 5:06 PM on April 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Is that your dog?"

"No. It's a cat"

"It is barking."

"It is a very confused cat."

"It just BIT my LEG!"

"A very confused and angry cat."
posted by Splunge at 5:48 PM on April 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


Are there many Persians left in Iran? I wonder if it's a Persian-Arab thing.

Are you asking if this is a case of dog-whistle politics?
posted by mek at 8:16 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have no problem with people eating dog as long as they treat them relatively humanely up to and during slaughter (which unforunately is not the case in Korea and China, but supposedly it's getting better in Korea).

But many Koreans really love dogs -- seriously. They're considered to be smart and noble. The dogs that are eaten are bred specifically for their meat, and are called -- literally -- "shit dogs." The ones you ear are decaninized in relation to Rover and Spot and have been for hundreds of years. It wouldn't make any sense to a Korean to eat a house pet as opposed to the animals specifically bred for their meat.

I don't understand Iran though. Persians developed as agrarian societies just like every other culture, and dogs were such an important and useful creature for farmers -- keeping the livestock safe, keeping your house safe from robbers, helping you hunt, etc. So I can't get the whole religious impulse to hate dogs.

Then again, Koreans truly hate cats while Japanese people love them and consider them a sign of good luck.

Culture is always fraught and confusing to an outsider.
posted by bardic at 9:35 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Radical Mullah (or any other radical religious nut job) = dogfood
posted by Vibrissae at 10:25 PM on April 19, 2011


Funny thing. Back in 1981 I was working at a tiny clothing store on 8th Street in the Village. There was also a larger store down the block. The people working there were Iranians. The two sisters were incredibly beautiful. Green eyes, olive skin... sigh.

The brother had an afro and wore tight jeans all the time.

The mother and father were both very "American".

If a customer asked them where they were from, they always answered, "We are Persian."

This makes sense if you consider that the "hostage crisis" had just ended.

But the radio in the store often played a "novelty song" called Bomb Iran to the tune of Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys.

Okay, not so funny.
posted by Splunge at 11:31 PM on April 19, 2011


I try to be all culturally relativist and everything, but you know what? If your religion forbids dogs and music you're doing it wrong.
posted by whuppy at 4:49 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


She was not a dog person of course, coming from Baghdad.

There are dog people in Baghdad. I have always remembered the image in this story of an Iraqi guy carrying his dog out of a bombed building.
posted by Forktine at 5:25 AM on April 20, 2011


The Prophet said, "...kill every pure black [dog]."

So no souvenirs from Martha's Vineyard, then?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:31 AM on April 20, 2011


If your religion forbids dogs and music you're doing it wrong.

If your religion forbids believing that dinosaurs didn't die out 6000 years ago, forbids women from wearing jewelry or makeup or immodest clothing or taking leadership roles, or forbids premarital sex, contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage, you're "doing it wrong" too.
posted by blucevalo at 9:22 AM on April 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


You forgot heliocentricity.
posted by whuppy at 10:22 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since the vast slight majority of Iranians are Persians
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:04 AM on April 21, 2011


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