“Spreaders of disease, causing mental harm” – Iran promotes law banning the keeping of dogs and cats

Iran is leading a move to ban pets, with parliament considering a bill banning, among other things, the invention, breeding and importation of cats and dogs, which has drawn criticism from environmentalists, artists and citizens. At the center of the public debate is a bill proposed by 75 MPs – out of 295 sitting in the House of Representatives – who claim that animals are spreaders of disease, “create impurity”, cause “psychological damage” and “stress”. As well as “harming people’s souls” and “dangerous.” The bill, if approved, would impose a ban in Iran on “the import, breeding, rearing, sale or transportation of dangerous and dirty animals,” as well as their presence in public space. The dangerous animals mentioned in the text include crocodiles, turtles, snakes, chameleons, mice and monkeys, but also other more common ones like dogs, cats and rabbits.

In case of violation of the law, the offender will be fined 10 to 30 times the minimum wage, as well as confiscating his animals. Furthermore, the law will allow certain organizations, such as the police, drug labs and the military, among others, to raise animals. It was further stipulated that if a person wanted to raise a dog or cat, he could apply for a special permit from the office of the assessing officer of each district, who would “investigate” the matter.

For some analysts and researchers, this bill is a symbol of the progressive change of thought and lifestyle in the Republic of Iran regarding pets, the exchange of love and the close ties that can exist with human beings, in accordance with the teachings of the Islamic religion. At the same time, in some countries Islam sees the contact between believers and an animal as a factor of impurity that prevents the performance of religious ceremonies. For Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, sweat, saliva and dog hair ‘dirty’ people and make their prayers “invalid.”

In 1980s Iran, a structure built on land where a dog walked or dumped its water was considered unclean. In recent years, with regard to dogs and pets, there has been a real gap between the official position of the authorities offering to avoid taking your dog for a walk – even if so far there is no law formally banning it, and some Tehran residents, especially in more affluent neighborhoods. .

The reactions to the bill were not long in coming: “The wording of the law is anti-animal rights and deviates from accepted and religious laws,” according to the Veterinarians Association. “I do not know why a group of MPs devote their time and money to dealing with this problem instead of solving the real problems of the country. I do not think it makes sense,” remarked Miriam Talai, an animal rights activist and owner of a kennel in Tehran.

On social media, many are protesting against the bill: many people are, in fact, posting pictures of their “dangerous animals” and signing the petition addressed to Mohammad Bajer Glibaf, the speaker of parliament, asking him to withdraw the proposal.

This was not a sudden decision. The extremists who became members of parliament in the last election have been preparing such laws for years – explains Minao Momani, a journalist and animal rights activist. About ten years ago, they placed moral policemen in front of veterinary offices, confiscated people’s dogs, and left them to die in the deserts around Tehran. This caused a scandal so they had to stop. But now, we’re starting to hear stories again about people whose pets have been confiscated here and there. I think one of the reasons they do this is because they think keeping a cat or a dog is a way to emulate life in the West, which they really despise. Another reason is that they believe that some people have cats and dogs as pets instead of having children, thus lowering the birth rate. But I do not think people will abandon their pets just like that. My pets are like my kids. No one will give up their children because of a law. If they do not listen to us and still vote for this law, we will find a way around it. ”

But there are also those who are frightened by the possible law, and are already abandoning their pets: “There are more and more abandoned dogs being taken to the shelter where I work – says a volunteer – people bring them to us after they find them in parks or along the road. Irresponsible landlords fear being forced Pay a huge fine or even go to jail in a few weeks and therefore abandon them. At the same time, we are seeing a growing demand for cats, probably because they do not have to go out with them and it is easier to hide them. Police will see me with my dog, they can take him. So I only take it out early in the morning or late in the evening. A few weeks ago, a cop stopped me and told me he had the right to take my dog. He was kind, but he said I might not be so lucky next time. I would say that three out of ten families I know have a pet. “Sometimes even devout Muslims have a cat or a dog, so this bill will affect a lot of people.”

By Editor

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