Described as a “destructive social problem”, domestic animals may well disappear from Iran. A month ago, ultra-conservative Iranian MPs tabled a bill to ban dogs, cats and other small life companions. Since then, anger has roared among the population.
It is not uncommon, in the evening, to see residents walking their dogs in the streets of the upscale neighborhoods of Tehran. Many Iranians from the middle and upper classes own pets and are opposed to the idea of having to part with them.
However, 75 deputies, or a quarter of the country’s parliamentarians, signed this text entitled “Support for the rights of the population in the face of harmful and dangerous animals”. They warn of a phenomenon that they say could “gradually change the Iranian and Islamic way of life” by “replacing human and family relationships with emotional relationships with animals.”
This bill therefore prohibits “raising, buying or selling, transporting, walking in a vehicle or on foot and keeping at home wild, exotic, harmful and dangerous animals”. A description which, a priori, does not really correspond to the cat or the dog, yet they both appear on the list of banned animals, with crocodiles, turtles, snakes, lizards, mice, rabbits and monkeys . As well as all animals considered “unclean” by the Muslim religion, such as the pig.
The text provides for penalties for any offender, namely a fine of an amount equivalent to 10 to 30 times “the minimum monthly worker salary” (87 euros), as well as “confiscation of the animal”. A project which, according to the reformist daily Shargh “will cause chaos, corruption and collective disobedience because […] living with animals is now a cultural phenomenon ”.
On social networks, Internet users laugh at this bill, sharing the photo of a harmless kitten ironically renamed “murderer” or wondering: “How many times have cats tried to devour you?”. Beyond this scathing humor, some have tried to express their opposition in a more concrete way. An actress, involved in the animal cause but who asks to remain anonymous, claims to have tried to organize a demonstration in front of Parliament. She says she had to give it up after being pressured.
However, on Eskandari Street, where Tehran’s pet accessory stores are concentrated, there are fears that “thousands of jobs” will be destroyed. Assuring that she will not get rid of her dog, Mina, the wife of one of her traders, points out the absurdity of this bill. MPs “are probably assuming that young couples today are not having children because they have a companion dog, but that’s stupid.” Alluding to the American sanctions which weigh on Iran she develops: “It is not the dogs but the economic conditions which do not allow us to have children”.