YOU can always rely on the mad, mad word of Islam to produce the wackiest stories in the world – but for sheer lunacy this month Iran beats all competition.
First we had a crazy cleric – Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi – blaming earthquakes in Iran on female “immodesty”, and now we have a police decree banning SUNTANS. But the ban applies only to women.
Tehran police chief Brig Gen Hossien Sajedinia – head of what some are now calling the Taniban – has warned that all women sporting a tan will be arrested and imprisoned because the look violates the “spirit of Islamic law.” Thus, any woman that looked like a “walking mannequin” will be punished.
He said that the Iranian public expects the police to act firmly and swiftly against any social misbehaviour committed by women as well and men – particularly those who defy “Islamic values”. He cited some areas in northern Tehran where suntanned women and young girls look like walking mannequins.
We are not going to tolerate this situation, and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them.
The warning is the latest move by Iranian authorities who want a more “radical” Islam implemented.
Some analysts said that the new order for women to dress more modestly is part of a wider campaign by the government to quash the opposition movement.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the head of Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious police fired the chief of its Mecca branch for advocating the mixing of the sexes.
Ahmed bin Qassim al-Ghamidi’s suggestion in a newspaper interview that men and women should be left to mingle freely directly clashed with a key objective of the force.
The religious police, under the control of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are charged with enforcing Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islam, which prohibits men and women who are not immediate relatives from mingling.
Al-Ghamidi caused outrage when he said in the interview.
Mixing (between the sexes) is just natural and there is no good reason to ban it.
He was dismissed soon after, according to an official from the force who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to talk to journalists.
According to this report, the remarks by such a high ranking member of the religious police, who is also a top cleric, revealed a surprising shifting of views on the gender segregation ban at the heart of the hard-line establishment tasked with enforcing the restriction.
Zealous officers routinely jail unrelated men and women found sitting together in coffee shops, restaurants or other public places.
The policemen also patrol public places to ensure women are covered and not wearing makeup, that shops close five times a day for Muslim prayers, and that men go to the mosque and worship.
The force’s new chief, Abdul-Aziz bin Humain, had been billed as a reformer, and promised a new tone after being appointed last year. But his dismissal of al-Ghamidi shows there are limits to how far he is willing to go.
Hat tip: Alan