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Iranian Conservatives Want to Punish Dog Owners With 74 Lashes

A new bill would add harsh punishments to the Islamic stigma of having pet dogs.

Chris Hall  |  Nov 10th 2014


Having a dog for a pet is already rare in Iran, but it may soon become illegal if certain Iranian politicians have their way. A law submitted in draft form and signed by 32 members of parliament states, in part:

“Anyone who takes a pet like a monkey or a dog in public and damages the Islamic culture or the health and tranquility of the people, particularly children and women, or attempts to buy or sell them, or keep them at their house, and not to act on the warnings issued by State Security Forces (police), would be fined between 10 to 100 million rials [about $370 to $3,700] or would receive 74 lashes, plus the pet would be confiscated.”

Radiokafka / Shutterstock

Radiokafka / Shutterstock

The Iranian legislation comes from the same religious beliefs that made the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event in Malaysia so controversial that the organizer received death threats. Dogs are considered unclean in certain strains of Islam, especially as pets. The Iranian legislation addresses only ownership of dogs as pets;¬†farmers or hunters who keep work dogs would not be included in the law if it passes.

As in Malaysia, the issue isn’t merely religious. Iranian conservatives see dog ownership as a sign of cultural invasion from the west. The few Iranians who do keep dogs are generally wealthy and young.

Conservative condemnation of dog ownership in Iran is nothing new: A similar law was proposed three years ago, but it ultimately failed because the parliament had other priorities. Even now, there’s enough stigma against dog ownership that most owners tend to keep their pets indoors and out of public view. Dog owners walking their pets outdoors can be stopped by the morality police, who either issue a warning or confiscate the dog. The proposed law would make the current reality even harsher.

JPRichard / Shutterstock

JPRichard / Shutterstock

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a dissident group based in Paris, issued a statement in response, saying that the law was an attempt to give the Iranian regime cover to conduct crackdowns against political and cultural resistance.

“Using this pretext,” the statement says, “the police stop cars, carry out searches, confiscate pets, and fine women if they are considered improperly dress. The sporadic and politically motivated campaigns against dog ownership are aimed at further suppressing the youth and women in Iran who have, in past few weeks, held protests against the acid attacks on women that have been carried out by state-sponsored gangs.”

Via The Guardian, Al Arabyia News, and National Council of Resistance of Iran.

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