In some Middle Eastern cities, the governments embrace dog walking, dog loving and dog everything. It seems like there are more dog parks than people parks in some areas of Tel Aviv, but if you live in Iran, watch out. Taking your dog out for a spin might land you in jail. The country’s totalitarian regime has banned another human pleasure owning one of man’s best friends. Since dogs are considered “haram” or impure in Islam, the Islamic Government, literal in its interpretation of Allah’s commands has outright banned dog walking in cities like Tehran.
ABC News from the US went to Tehran and met people like Fatima pictured below. She has been banned from taking Peaky anywhere around the streets of Tehran. Last month the Police Chief of Tehran said dog walking is now banned everywhere. Now Fatima walks Peaky in her friend’s backyard adjacent to her apartment building.
“People who walk dogs will be prosecuted,” Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi said in an interview with the semi-official Fars News Agency on Tuesday. Rahimi also announced that you can’t travel with dogs in cars, or bring them to any public parks.
“People like to stay with their families and acquaintances on a weekend. It’s fun to spend some hours in the park where you live, but unfortunately some ignore this right of families and ignore the teachings of the Islamic religion that considers the dog as unclean and follow the satellites and the Western style of bringing the dog to the park,” he added.
The presence of dogs he noted has caused many people to stop using the parks.
In Arabic, dogs are called “najis,” which is also a technical religious term that translates to “unclean.” If you touch a dog with a wet hand you have to wash it three times before you pray.
But in Parsi social media many people have sided with animal lovers and dog-owners, advocating for them to find a safer way to walk their pets.
Tehran is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and it is fair that public parks be free from pets walking around unattended. And even when owners do pick up after their dogs, soiling by urine and other stuff inevitably spoils the cleanliness of parks. But like other aspects of Tehran life: drinking, drugs, underground clubs… people will be people. Strict regulations against pets may have the opposite effect: more people might decide to keep their dogs in covert locations, making them unhappier – both the owners and the pets – in the longun.
Time for Iran to make a pet friendly park. Which one of our activists over there can make it happen?