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The Latest Enemies of Iran: Dogs and Their Owners

The Latest Enemies of Iran: Dogs and Their Owners – Fighting Shariah

By Azadeh Moaveni


Iranian officials find themselves in a cultural war with the West and see what they’re offering as an ‘Islamic lifestyle’ failing measurably.”

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.

During periodic crackdowns, police have confiscated dogs from their owners right off the street; and state media has lectured Iranians on the diseases spread by canines. The cleric Gholamreza Hassani, from the city of Urmia, has been satirized for his sermons railing against "short-legged" and "holdable" dogs. But as with the policing of many other practices (like imbibing alcoholic drinks) that are deemed impure by the mullahs but perfectly fine to many Iranians, the state has eventually relaxed and let dog lovers be.

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." The proposed legislation for the first time outlines specific punishments for "the walking and keeping" of "impure and dangerous animals," a definition that could feasibly include cats but for the time being seems targeted at dogs. 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. "Considering the several thousand dogs [that are kept] in Tehran alone, the problem arises as to what is going to happen to these animals," Hooman Malekpour, a veterinarian in Tehran, said to the BBC’s Persian service. If passed, the law would ultimately energize police and volunteer militias to enforce the ban systematically.

In past years, animal-rights activists in Iran have persuasively argued that sporadic campaigns against dog ownership are politically motivated and unlawful, since the prohibition surfaces in neither the country’s civil laws nor its Islamic criminal codes. But if Iran’s laws were silent for decades on the question of dogs, that is because the animals — in the capacity of pet — were as irrelevant to daily life as dinosaurs. Islam, by custom, considers dogs najes, or unclean, and for the past century cultural mores kept dog ownership down to minuscule numbers. In rural areas, dogs have traditionally aided shepherds and farmers, but as Iranians got urbanized in the past century, their dogs did not come along. In cities, aristocrats kept dogs for hunting and French-speaking dowagers kept lap dogs for company, but the vast majority of traditional Iranians, following the advice of the clergy, were leery of dogs and considered them best avoided.

That has changed in the past 15 years with the rise of an urban middle class plugged into and eager to mimic Western culture. Satellite television and Western movies opened up a world where happy children frolicked with dogs in parks and affluent families treated them like adorable children. These days, lap dogs rival designer sunglasses as the upper-middle-class Iranian’s accessory of choice. "Global norms and values capture the heart of people all around the world, and Iran is no exception," says Omid Memarian, a prominent Iranian journalist specializing in human rights. "This is very frightening for Iranian officials, who find themselves in a cultural war with the West and see what they’re offering as an ‘Islamic lifestyle’ failing measurably."

The widening acceptability of dog ownership, and its popularity among a specific slice of Iran’s population — young, urban, educated and frustrated with the Islamic government — partly explains why dogs are now generating more official hostility. In 2007, two years into the tenure of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, security forces targeted dog owners alongside a crackdown on women’s attire and men’s "Westernized" hairstyles. In the regime’s eyes, owning a dog had become on par with wearing capri pants or sporting a mullet — a rebellious act.

The government’s tolerance for this low-level lifestyle dissidence fizzled after Ahmadinejad’s contested electoral victory in 2009, which sparked massive demonstrations and the most serious challenge to Islamic rule since the 1979 revolution. In the aftermath of that upheaval, the state has moved to tighten its control over a wide range of Iranians’ private activities, from establishing NGOs to accessing the Internet, to individual lifestyle decisions, according to Hadi Ghaemi, the director for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "No doubt such attempts are motivated by a desire to squash acts of criticism and protests, even if through symbolic individual decisions that simply don’t conform to officially sanctioned lifestyles," Ghaemi says.

The criminalizing of dogs, in this context, helps the government address the legal gray areas concerning lifestyle behavior. When authorities found it difficult to police what it termed Westernized hairstyles worn by young men, it solved the problem last year by releasing a poster of specifically banned styles.

For many young people, these measures are a firm reminder that the government will brook no disobedience, whether it be chanting antigovernment slogans in the streets or sporting excessively long sideburns. Dog owners in Iran, like much of the population, are mostly preoccupied these days with inflation, joblessness and the parlous state of the country’s economy. But they will soon need to consider whether keeping their shih tzu or poodle is worth the added worry. Their dogs may face the same fate as the hundreds of street dogs that the government regularly sweeps from the streets of Tehran. "Many in Tehran and other big cities find the killing of street dogs offensive and cruel," says Memarian. "It’s like the Iranian people and officials live in two different worlds."

Source:  Time Magazine


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April 28, 2011 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, animal abuse, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rights And Awareness, animals, Change Number of Pet Restrictive Laws. Ordinances and Rules, Dogs, Help Familie Keep Their Pets, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Outreach for Pets, Pet Abuse, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Owner's Rights, Pets, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Nude Fur Protesters Bleed For Animals

Animal activists clad in nothing but their underwear and red paint to emulate the blood of animals protested against the torture and slaying of animals to make fur clothing in Buenos Aires in June 2008.

Fur Protesters Buenos Aires 1
Activists clad in underwear with red body paint protest against the use of fur in
Buenos Aires June 25 2008. Photo Reuters

In a previous nude demonstration, PETA protesters say that animals are anally electrocuted, gassed, or their necks are broken and skinned alive just for the sake of fashion. “In this day and age there is no excuse for fur when there are so many alternatives.”

The AnimaNaturalis organization — an international animal activist group — says, “Nowadays it is not necessary to kill animals to get their fur.  Animals need their fur, we don’t.”

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A group of “bleeding” women lie during a demonstration in Buenos Aires June 25, 2008.
Photo AFP / Juan Mabromata / Getty Images

Fur Protesters Buenos Aires 3
Make-up artist paints with false blood a group of people in Buenos Aires June 25, 2008.
Photo AFP / Juan Mabromata / Getty Images

Fur Protesters Buenos Aires 4
Group of “bleeding” people lie in Buenos Aires on June 25, 2008.
Photo AFP / Juan Mabromata / Getty Images

The organization equates the human use of animals for their fur to the murder of millions of people by National Socialist Germany, stating, “The word ‘holocaust’ can be applied to the animal holocaust as well as to the Jews, without diminishing the importance of the latter.”

“The comparison is valid from the moment that both are seized and placed in cages (concentration camps). Both are tortured and die of hunger as it frequently happens to egg-laying chickens. Both are finally murdered.”

More than 150 nude protesters made headlines in Barcelona Spain on January 27 this year in a silent demonstration to denounce the use of animals to make fur coats that was organized by AnimaNaturalis, which has staged similar protests in Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina.

Fur Protesters Buenos Aires 5
Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, June 25, 2008. Photo Xinhua

Fur Protesters Buenos Aires 6
Buenos Aires, June 25, 2008. Photo Reuters

Fur Protesters Buenos Aires 7
Buenos Aires, June 25, 2008. Photo Reuters

The protest took place at exactly noon just as worshipers were arriving for Mass. Worshipers found themselves greeted to a throng of protesters curled up fetal style, and covered in what was meant to appear as blood on the steps of the Saint Eulalia Cathedral.

In a scene reminiscent of a bloodbath, the number of protesters involved in the “Nude against Fur” demonstration was to symbolize the average number of animals it takes to make 1 fur coat, they laid on the steps of the Gothic Cathedral in Barcelona city center that bears the name of a young virgin martyr of Roman times.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 25, 2008. Photo Xinhua

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Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 25, 2008. Photo Reuters

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Barcelona, Spain January 31 2008. Photo Lohasian

The event was also to call attention to the fact that Spain, together with Greece, Germany and Italy are key manufacturers of fur coats according to the animal rights group AnimaNaturalis.

A spokesman for the group said the Cathedral steps were a natural place because many people chose to wear fur to church and the nearby Opera house Liceu.

The protesters displayed placards saying “How many lives does it take to make a coat?”

A press release cited, “Millions of fox, mink, nutria, lynx, beavers, chinchillas, and other species are raised in captivity or cruelly trapped in order to strip them of the fur that they need. Nothing justifies the use of animal skins.”

AnimaNaturalis also opposes Hispanic customs such as bullfighting, dog fights and cockfights.

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Barcelona, Spain January 31 2008. Photo Lohasian

Fur Protesters Barcelona Spain 12
Barcelona, Spain January 31 2008. Photo Lohasian

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Protesters covered in red paint to resemble blood, on steps of the
Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, Barcelona. Photo AFP

Nudity has a tradition in Barcelona of political and religious purposes that pre-dates modern animal rights activists. Saint Eulalia is the co-patroness of Barcelona and the Cathedral of Barcelona, as well as sailors.

Legend has it that the young Eulalia was exposed naked in a public square during the 4th century A.D. persecution of early Christians by the emperor Diocletian, when a miraculous snowfall covered the martyr’s nudity.

Enraged by the miracle, her Roman torturers placed Eulalia in a barrel studded inside with blades and rolled it down a street (now known as ‘Baixada de Santa Eulalia’) to her death.

Buried in the cathedral crypt, her feast day is February 12th. A hymn was written for the Saint in Visigothic times, which was preserved by the Mozarabic Rite of southern Spain.

For more information on AnimaNaturalis visit their website.

PETA Activists Go Nude for Fur

Sources: Spero News, The Lohasian, and AnimaNaturalis

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August 28, 2008 Posted by | Animal Rights And Awareness, Pets, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Unusual Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment