Iran Pushing to Ban Dogs as Pets

It could soon be illegal to keep 'impure' animals as pets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2011 10:15 AM CDT
Iran's Next Target: Dog Ownership
Iranian children walk their dog in a Tehran park despite restrictions on walking dogs in public August 26, 2001 in Tehran, Iran.   (Getty Images)

Dogs are unclean in the eyes of Islam, but man's best friend in Iran has until now avoided being outlawed. That could all change if a new bill recently proposed in parliament passes: It would make "the walking and keeping" of "impure and dangerous animals" illegal, subjecting owners to fines and rendering the fate of the confiscated animal uncertain. Iran's government has long seen dog ownership as a depraved practice, Time notes, and the proposed bill warns against the public health dangers as well as the cultural implications.

Until recently, few people in Iran kept dogs as most were too concerned with Islamic custom. That has changed over the past 15 years, as more educated young people joined the urban middle class and started to mimic Western culture by keeping dogs as pets. In similar crackdowns, the government has already targeted "Westernized" hairstyles and women's clothing. Iranian officials, says one journalist, "find themselves in a cultural war with the West and see what they're offering as an 'Islamic lifestyle' failing measurably." (More dog stories.)

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