April 20, 2010
In this file photo, a veiled Iranian woman walks past torn campaign posters of
Tehran's then-mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Senior Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam
Kazem Sedighi has been quoted by Iranian media as saying that women who wear
"immodest" clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes. The
claim follows a prediction by Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran
and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate. (AP Photo/Vahid
Iranian cleric: Promiscuous Women Cause Earthquakes
Beirut. A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and
behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.
Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's
unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its
12 million inhabitants should relocate.
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their
chastity and spread adultery in society, which [consequently] increases
earthquakes,'' Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian
media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.
Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe,
but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear
tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.
"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi asked during a
prayer sermon Friday. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in
religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."
Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the
sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future.
Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less
seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including
one more than 80 kilometers long, though it has not suffered a major quake
In 2003, a powerful earthquake hit the southern city of Bam, killing 31,000
people - about a quarter of that city's population - and destroying its ancient
"A divine authority told me to tell the people to make a general repentance.
Why? Because calamities threaten us," Sedighi said.
Referring to the violence that followed last June's disputed presidential
election, he said, "The political earthquake that occurred was a reaction to
some of the actions [that took place]. And now, if a natural earthquake hits
Tehran, no one will be able to confront such a calamity but God's power, only
God's power ... So let's not disappoint God."
The Iranian government and its security forces have been locked in a bloody
battle with a large opposition movement that accuses Ahmadinejad of winning
last year's vote by fraud.
Ahmadinejad made his quake prediction two weeks ago but said he could not give
an exact date. He acknowledged that he could not order all of Tehran's 12
million people to evacuate.
"But provisions have to be made ... At least 5 million should leave Tehran so
it is less crowded," the president said.
Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsooli said prayers and pleas
for forgiveness were the best "formulas to repel earthquakes."
"We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this
system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and
self-sacrifice,'' Mahsooli said.
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