Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 2002 / 24 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Iranian dogs on notice | An Iranian cleric has ordered the arrest of all dogs.

"I call on the judiciary to arrest all long-legged, medium-legged and short-legged dogs along with their long-legged owners," said Gholamreza Hassani, an Iranian cleric from the northwestern city of Urumiyeh.

"Otherwise, I'll do it myself," Hassani added to the Iranian newspaper Etemad, whose motto is "All the lunatic raving that's fit to print."

Apparently exempt from Hassani's decree are legless dogs dragged around by short-legged people. Perhaps dog-loving Iranians can sidestep the decree by strapping their dogs into little carts and hiring midgets to take them for a walk. I'm surprised we don't see more of this in some of America's more fashionable cities.

Strict Muslims consider dogs unclean. Still, dog ownership has increased in Iran in recent years, especially among well-to-do Westernized citizens. There are unverified stories of dog owners and their pets being pelted by stones when they go out for a walk. Police have also fined dog owners and confiscated their pets on the street and in public parks.

Hassani characterized Iranian dog owners as "evil people" who promote "un-Islamic and corrupt behavior."

Now comes the zinger: "In our country there is freedom of speech, but not freedom for corruption."

Freedom of speech seems an odd thing to call the government shutdown of 25 independent newspapers and magazines since 1999, not to mention the disappearance and/or murder of prominent intellectuals and dissident politicians.

But if freedom of speech is alive and well in Iran, as Hassani claims, freedom to bark is definitely under attack. Since Iran is obviously a fair and just society in which everyone is provided equal protection under the law, one can only assume that dogs will also be given their day in court.

After reading the offending pooch her Miranda rights, Daisy would be required only to give her name and rabies-tag number to her police interrogators. If she were unable to afford legal representation, a court-appointed attorney would be provided.

A possible defense would be to accuse the police of species-profiling. Why are dogs being singled out for arrest when cats, goats and camels are allowed to roam free? It would take a very large, extremely unclean dog to keep up with a camel, after all, and yet they're more abundant than Republican fund-raisers.

It seems to me that Iran has enough to worry about, like, say, a poison gas attack from Iraq, without picking on dogs and their owners.

Besides, if an Iranian policeman unwittingly confiscates an Afghan hound, Iran might find itself on the wrong end of jihad.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune