A video of a mullah caring for orphaned puppies has been shared widely on social networks in Iran. But it didn’t go viral just because puppies are cute (though that certainly may have helped). The real reason is more interesting...
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, as in numerous other Muslim countries in the Middle East, dogs are considered to be impure. Sharia law in fact prohibits keeping dogs as pets, except if they serve as shepherds or watch dogs. Stray dogs are thus often met with disgust and, sometimes, abuse. NGOs frequently denounce such abuse in Iran.
That’s why this video of a cleric petting and giving water to orphaned puppies surprised many Iranians. It was all the more astonishing because the mullah, Mohammad Rabbani, also holds public office as head of the city council of Kerman, a town in southeast Iran. Iranian authorities frequently denounce the practice of keeping pet dogs as an immoral choice influenced by Western lifestyles. In fact, Iran’s morality police regularly take pet dogs off the streets and kill them.
The mullah explained his act to a local media outlet: “I didn’t think that this video would go viral. In Islam, we’re advised to be kind with animals. Unfortunately, the municipality killed the mother of these puppies who live near my house. So I try to take care of them. I spend a small part of my salary every month to feed them.”