NEWS AND COMMENT-IRAN: The Iranian government has proposed a nationwide, blanket ban on pets. To me, it looks like a battle of wits between the strongly Islamic Iranian government and the secular citizens of Iran. It’s a battle between ancient and modern beliefs. The Islamic faith roots people in the past. Secular beliefs enlightened people and open them up to new ideas.
I’m taking this viewpoint because although official polls state that 99.5% of Iran’s population is Muslim, a more truthful, I would argue, survey carried out by the scroll.in website found that 40% of citizens identify as Muslim. Iran is becoming secular because they disagree strongly with the way the country is run; along Islamic lines. It’s not working for them. It is not working generally from an economic standpoint and in improving lives.
Perhaps the proposed law to ban companion animals is a pushback by the government who realise that the country is becoming secular. They want to try and force the Islamic culture on the country. It’s a way of putting the citizens in a religious straitjacket with what secular-minded people would regard as extreme rules.
And this proposed rule of no pets is just that. Although we must stress that it is a bill meaning a proposed law but the fact that it has emerged from the government is troubling, I would have thought, to many citizens.
Some Muslims regard living with pets as decadent. We know that under Islamic law dogs are regarded as unclean. Islamic law is heavily biased against dogs which is a form of speciesism. Because the founder of the Islamic faith, the Prophet Muhammad, loved cats, 1,500 years later this still has a bearing on the attitude of Muslims to domestic cats. This makes it all the more surprising that this proposed law would ban domestic cats!
Some members of the Iranian parliament are worried that keeping cats and dogs undermines the family unit. By this they mean that cats and dogs substitute people. I would argue, too, that these MPs think that cats and dogs and pets generally undermine the Islamic faith despite the Prophet’s love of cats.
Media reports tell us that 75 MPs, a quarter of parliamentarians, signed a text entitled “Support for the rights of the population in relation to harmful and dangerous animals”. They are stating that cats and dogs are dangerous animals; bizarre, seeing as, across the planet, hundreds of millions of people live with cats and dogs in peace. Yes, cats and dogs can occasionally be dangerous but this is entirely down, at the end of the day, to human behaviour.
Iran’s government is considering banning: crocodiles, turtles, snakes, lizards, cats, mice, rabbits, dogs and other ‘unclean animals’ as well as monkeys. This will also mean banning the breeding of these animals. They seem to be equating cats and dogs with exotic and dangerous animals.
If the law is passed, which I would say is unlikely, offenders would risk a fine of 10-30 times their minimum monthly working wage. That’s a big fine.
Yahoo! News (AFP) gives me the impression that the citizens of Iran strongly disagree with this bill. To them, it is out of touch with reality and the modern world. An actress, who has remained anonymous, said that she was planning a demonstration in front of Parliament but she wisely dropped the idea.
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There seems to be general support for the bill by other parliamentarians but perhaps this support is for a bill which deals with the keeping of animals generally and perhaps an improvement in animal rights in the country. There may be a good reason to introduce fresh law in that respect. One commenter, a lawmaker from Tehran, and an environmentalist, said that she believes there is a need for rules on what kind of companion animals can be kept.
Such a law would also impact business and the economy. The economy surrounding companion animals is quite important because a lot of people keep animals and spend quite a lot of money in the process of good animal caregiving.