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Miniskirts and major quakes

Editorial

An Iranian cleric has some peculiar notions on women and natural disasters.

April 22, 2010

Ever since we heard an Iranian cleric explain that scantily clad and promiscuous women are the cause of earthquakes, we just can't get Carole King out of our heads: "I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky tumbling down."

Of course, that's not the kind of sexual seismology Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi had in mind when he told worshipers in Tehran last week that women who dress immodestly corrupt young men and lead them to adultery, thereby increasing earthquakes. "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" he asked. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."

And we spent all that money on retrofitting.

One problem with Sedighi's logic is that Iran, with one of the world's highest percentages of modestly dressed women, is also among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. But wait, this isn't about logic, and Sedighi isn't alone in attributing natural horrors to human behavior. The Bible blames epic disasters on idol worship, homosexuality and whatnot. The evangelical Christian Pat Robertson suggested that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for abortions in America, and that this year's earthquake in Haiti was part of a curse on that island stemming from an 18th century pact with the devil that Haitians allegedly made in exchange for liberty from French slave owners. Along these lines, one wonders what crimes the people of Iceland might have committed to move the earth and bring the sky "tumbling down, tumbling down."

But back to Iran. We regret that clergy are blaming women for natural disasters, as well as for the weaknesses of men so easily led astray. We believe women should have the right to cover or not to cover their heads as dictated by their faith. In this, as in all their struggles, they should move heaven and earth to get their rights.

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