Authorities in Tehran reportedly banned the walking of dogs in public spaces on Tuesday in a move reportedly aimed at discouraging dog ownership, considered a Western deviance by the Islamic regime.
Talking to the state-run Young Journalists Club, Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi claimed that dogs were “creating fear and anxiety” among the general population.
“We have received permission from the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, and will take measures against people walking dogs in public spaces, such as parks,” he explained.
Rahimi added that people are also no longer allowed to drive dogs around in cars, meaning it will be very difficult for families to give their dogs any exercise whatsoever.
“It is forbidden to drive dogs around in cars and, if this is observed, serious police action will be taken against the car-owners in question,” he said.
Many on social media immediately criticized the move. Payam Mohebi, a senior member of Iran’s Society of Veterinarians, questioned how Iranians could take their dogs to the vets without the use of a vehicle.
“How are veterinarians supposed to treat dogs if their owners are not allowed to take them out in public or drive them in their cars?” he told RadioFreeEurope. “How are sick dogs supposed to get to us?”
The legal ownership of dogs remains a contentious issue within the Iranian regime, and police routinely confiscate many dogs. As noted by the BBC, “Dogs are viewed as ‘unclean’ by Iran’s Islamic authorities, who also regard dog-ownership as a symbol of the pro-Western policy of the ousted monarchy.”
According to ancient Islamic law, dogs are one among a list of things — including pigs and dead bodies, as well as blood, urine, and feces — deemed najis, meaning ritually unclean.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance outlawed all publicity for any pets or pet-related products in 2010. The move was based on a fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi condemning dog owners for “blindly imitating the West” and warning that their love for animals would lead to “evil outcomes.”
“Many people in the West love their dogs more than their wives and children,” he declared at the time.
In 2014, around 30 lawmakers drafted a bill designed to punish those walking their dogs to 74 lashes and a fine of over $3,000, although it did not end up receiving parliamentary approval.
“Anyone who walks or plays with animals such as dogs or monkeys in public places will damage Islamic culture, as well as the hygiene and peace of others, especially women and children,” the draft bill declared.