On the eve of the Obama administration’s deal to pour $150 billion into the coffers of soon-to-be nuclear Iran, we should consider carefully the character of the government with which they have struck a bargain.
Iran has a government that mostly preaches death—death to Israel, death to America, death and more death. It also supports terrorism to kill Americans. So no one should be surprised at the major protests the deal has sparked, including the one headlined by Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz at the U.S. Capitol on September 9.
For Americans tuned out to foreign affairs, it’s hard to grasp the inanity of the rhetoric promising Iranian “cooperation” with United Nations inspectors of their nuclear weapons program. Many shrug hearing about how Sharia law in Iran oppresses and meddles in people’s daily lives, spawning pathologies. Homosexuality in Iran is punishable by execution, but that doesn’t faze many either. This apparently includes the curious case of Barack Obama.
Treating Dogs Worse Than Dogs
The ubiquity of beheadings and other horrific violence seems to have had a dangerous anesthetizing effect on all of us. So perhaps some Americans would better understand the sociopathic nature of the regime we’re promoting by getting a glimpse into its attitude on dogs. Its war on dogs.
Take a look at this video from the Iranian town of Shiraz, which seems to have outsourced animal “control” to those who have a special loathing for helpless stray dogs. Be forewarned that the content is gruesome.
Dejected and terrified, a stray dog whimpers as a man methodically injects her hindquarters with acid. The creature then writhes and shrieks in agony for interminable minutes. The animal is not dead yet when the executioner tosses her sobbing body onto a mass of carcasses. Next, a puppy is injected.
There are more such reports out of Iran. The utter helplessness of dogs pictured in a pit, huddled together whimpering as they try to escape being shot and or buried alive, is disturbing. What kind of a person stands by such scenes, much less creates them?
Even if the guys who injected the dogs with that torture serum were outsourced and paid by the government to get rid of strays, why would they use such a horrendously inhumane method? My guess is that they’ve been steeped in an environment that eschews kindness and specializes in cultivating various types of barbarity. The torture of animals is well known to desensitize people to harming human beings.
This even goes beyond hatred for dogs. It’s a rejection of the idea that there should be any bond of friendship between a dog and a human being, or any bond of human relationship that the rulers do not dictate and control.
Torturing Dogs Alienates and Isolates People
A common refrain in Washington DC is: “If you want a friend, get a dog.” That’s an underhanded way of saying that dogs often transcend the human capacity for goodness. Americans have always understood this instinctively.
There is nothing like the unconditional love and friendship a dog offers to his human companions. Dogs are known to make sacrifices for us, including the ultimate sacrifice. They welcome us home with heart-melting affection, as you can see in this video:
Dogs love life, and they bring us pure joy and laughter. Who wouldn’t welcome a dog’s great comfort and love in our times of affliction? Children fall in love with dogs from the very beginning:
As with all loving relationships, the bond is therapeutic—for both. Dogs adore their loving companions, and they grieve for them when they are gone.
Such a mutually reinforcing relationship extends and enriches our lives. By showing us such devotion, dogs teach us something about the goodness inherent in loving and trusting others. If we absorb those lessons, our hearts tend to mellow and bring us into greater fellowship with others. It all contributes towards building a true sense of community.
So why would anyone want to prevent bonding between dogs and humans? Well, in a totalitarian culture, there would be one basic reason. Identifying dogs as vermin controls people by separating them from any other competing bond of loyalty. In the case of the mullahs, the pretext is that companion dogs are a “Western” influence.
When Dogs Are Treated as Vermin
In Islam, dogs have long been viewed as unclean animals, even though the handful of references to dogs in the Koran itself are not negative. The stigma originates from the tradition handed down in various hadiths, or the sayings of Mohammed, one of which referred to black dogs in particular as being demonic. Another requires that any vessel in contact with a dog has to be washed seven times. One says angels won’t visit a house with a dog. And so on.
Iran’s theocratic rulers prefer to adhere strictly to the hadiths that designate dogs as a polluting presence. This legalism would mean that having a dog’s fur or saliva on one’s person or in one’s home would interfere with the five-times-daily prayer life of a Muslim.
Thus, stray dogs in Iran are easy and fair game for police to shoot indiscriminately on sight. The government also outsources the killings, and localities can pay individuals for their aid in eliminating canine populations.
Just knowing that the authorities disapprove of dogs cultivates the sense that the suffering of those animals does not matter. In fact, anyone who might take perverse pleasure in tormenting dogs would have an out when those hadiths are reinforced by mullahs, particularly if a cleric such as Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi issues a fatwah against owning dogs.
The antipathy towards dogs has also been exported into some Muslim communities abroad. For example, in the Hague in the Netherlands, a Dutch politician called for a ban on dogs. Many laughed it off as a joke. But in the municipality of Lerida in Spain, a similar motion was made a couple of years ago, followed by numerous reports of dog poisonings in the area. Not so funny.
Politically correct law enforcement can also nudge limits on dogs in public spaces Muslim communities frequent, such as in Toronto when a man was arrested for walking his dog in a public park where an anti-Israel protest was taking place. He was likely considered a provocateur for walking his dog there. But the video link shows just how tense things can get in this cultural crossfire. Many Muslim cab drivers have insisted on refusing service to anyone with a dog, including service dogs for the blind, most notably in Minneapolis.
The tradition of viewing dogs as unclean or as vermin is on a collision course with the idea of dogs as beloved companions.
Loving Canines Is Not Western, But Human
As much as the religious sensibilities (or insensibilities, as the case might be), the mullah’s greater concern about dogs as pets might be that it represents Western decadence and pollutes Islamic culture. The Iranian government has barely tolerated keeping dogs as pets over the years. But the growing popularity of canine companionship is clearly a trend that concerns the mullahs, who have a stake in controlling all of society.
Prior to Islam, the religion in Iran was Zoroastrianism, which prized dogs highly. Here’s a beautiful insight from the blog of Iranian Farid Parsa about the growing love for dogs among Iranians who appreciate them as companions and protectors, just as they were beloved in pre-Islam times:
Man’s best friend has suffered so much for so long in post Islamic Iran. Their treatment by IRI today is still malicious and deeply prejudiced. Despite this Iran has a proud history of producing dogs of great pedigree. So why is the Shia Islam so scared of dogs that they have decreed law against them? Dogs have travelled like loyal companions with humans for thousands of years, protecting us against predators. Zoroastrianism’s insight into dogs was deep and humane.
In Iran today dogs and people mirror each other in their pain and suffering. This mirroring has given rise to a better understanding and sympathy – as in Bahram Gur’s story, as written in Shahnameh, that he suddenly woke up to the oppression of his tyrannical vizier as the result of witnessing a shepherd’s cruel treatment of his sheep dog. Once again in history dogs and people are helping each other through difficult times. They suffer together because the Islamic leadership, like ahrimanic forces, are against them for no good reason.
One needn’t have a “Western” heart to feel empathy towards dogs—only a kind one.
These days, the Iranian government dances around a bit on the laws. They enforce them either loosely or stringently depending upon the mood towards regulating citizens’ “lifestyle behaviors.” At times, pets can be confiscated from their owners, even out of their arms. At other times, a certain amount of tolerance prompts Iranians to walk their dogs as a sign of defiance against the authorities. This “tolerance” also allows the authorities to identify potential dissidents and troublemakers.
And troublemakers may be out there. There is a budding “animal rights” movement in Iran. For example, over the past few years animal shelters have begun to take hold there. One was founded by Jila Pourirani, who did so after witnessing many inhumane killings of stray dogs commissioned by the city of Tabriz.
The viral video of the acid-injected dogs sparked protests in Iran itself. One took place on April 19 in Tehran in front of the Environmental Protection Organization. The head of the EPO actually addressed the protestors, which shouldn’t surprise us because the Iranian government was salivating at the prospect of a windfall from the Obama administration. She provided a mollifying general statement against animal cruelty, saying the situation would be investigated, but noted that the town of Shiraz denied responsibility. It’s no question that the major public attention both in Iran and abroad played into the decision to address the protesters.
But with the aid the United States is about to grant the Iranian government, reformers will lose any leverage they have had and the government will gain steamroller strength. This whole picture is reminiscent of the Obama administration’s decision to turn its back on the protesters who amassed by hundreds of thousands in Tehran to decry election fraud by the dictatorship in June 2009.
Dog-Hating Fits Totalitarianism
So while we admire the bravery, we shouldn’t be sanguine about the future of any protest movement in an authoritarian theocracy. The ultimate aim of any totalitarian system is to dictate every personal relationship a human being has. For the Iranian Islamic government, that extends right down to deciding if someone may have a pet.
To maintain power, totalitarian rulers have always cultivated a sense of alienation and isolation in their populations. Through dependency, the state can easily manipulate and bend the people to its will. There’s nothing new about divide-and-conquer. By separating people from any source of trust and companionship, you can weaken their resolve, demoralize them, and prevent them from coming together. North Korea is a prime example of this.
The question going forward with Iran is, who are we supporting? The totalitarian regime bent on sowing distrust and separating people from one another through the cult vehicle of Sharia law? Or the Iranian people, who are really sick of it all and wish to build a more humane world?
There’s no question this administration is again turning its back on those who seek a more compassionate world. It is in essence arming single-minded dictators. As if we need more evidence that the mullahs aren’t very nice, their barbaric war on dogs in Iran highlights the danger of trusting them to participate in a more civilized international society.