Lawmakers in Iran have proposed a bill that would ban people from keeping dogs as pets. The measure would criminalize dog ownership, assess fines and confiscate animals.
The proposed bill is latest tactic by the Iranian government to crack down on the popularity of Western culture creeping into their country, but if passed it will endanger the lives of thousands of dogs.
This isn’t the first time Iran has tried to make it a criminal act to own a dog. During the past decade police have periodically seized dogs from their owners — right off the street.
Traditionally dogs have not been kept as pets because civil and religious custom consider dogs to be najes, or unclean animals.
But as Western values have become more acceptable to wealthy Iranians and city dwellers — dog ownership has become commonplace. Thousands of dogs, especially small lap dogs live throughout Tehran.
However, the Iranian Parliament now wants to put an end to any tolerance of Western values and they want to begin the new era by making an example out of dogs.
CNN said, “The proposed law would take the dogs away from their owner and fine them $100 – $500. The legislation does not say what would ultimately happen to the animal.”
A story from NPR said, “If the law passes, dog owners will be banned from taking their pets out into public spaces and into vehicles, as well as living in private flats. If they fail to do so, health authorities will be called in to take the dog away from its owner.”
The government is not the only supporter of criminalizing dog ownership — religious clerics have called for a ban for many years.
In June 2010, Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi issued a fatwa, a religious edict, that said Iranians should not keep dogs, because it meant they were blindly following the West and because they were “unclean.” Later that year, reports Al Arabiya, another cleric called for the arrest of dogs and their owners.
Omid Memarian, an Iranian journalist who specializes in human rights told Time, “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.”
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