Iranian women outside a shopping mall in Tehran.
Women who dress “inappropriately” incite extramarital sex that in turn cause more earthquakes, a senior Iranian hard-line cleric has claimed. Attractive women who snub traditional Islamic clothing to instead wear fashionable clothes and apply heavy make-up, caused youths in the country to “go astray” and have affairs, Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi said.
The hard-line cleric said as a result the country, bounded by several fault lines, experienced more “calamities” such as earthquakes, the reformist Aftab-e Yazd newspaper reported him saying.
Iran is prone to frequent quakes, many of which have been devastating for the country.
“Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes,” he told worshippers at a Tehran prayer service late last week.
“Calamities are the result of people’s deeds.
“We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers.”
The Islamic dress code is mandatory in Iran, which has been under clerical rule for more than three decades.
Every post-pubescent woman regardless of her religion or nationality must cover her hair and bodily contours in public.
Offenders face punishment and fine.
But this has not stopped urban women from appearing in the streets wearing tight coats and flimsy headscarves and layers of skilfully applied make-up.
Experts have warned that a strong quake in Tehran, the Iranian capital, could kill hundreds of thousands of people.
Tehran province has nearly 14 million inhabitants, eight million of whom live in the city, which sits on several fault lines.
Earlier this month, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s president, warned at least five million Tehran residents that they should flee Iran’s capital because it is threatened by earthquakes.
Mr Ahmadinejad said that more than two thirds of Iran’s 74-million-strong population lived in urban areas.
“We cannot predict when an earthquake will happen. But if anything happens to Tehran province’s 13.8 million residents, how can we manage that?” he asked.
The worst in recent times hit the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing more than 31,000 people – about a quarter of the population – and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel.
Earlier this year the hardline cleric led rallies from Iranian government supporters who denounced opposition students who burned photos of the country’s supreme leader during protests in December.
“The issue has reached a point where the picture of Imam Khomeini is insulted,” he said.
“They questioned things that are sacred.”
He mocked opposition activists who “thought the revolution had been defeated”.