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Iranian Cleric's advice on Sex

http://www.foreignpol...
Quote:
In the early years of the Iranian Revolution, an obscure cleric named Ayatollah Gilani became a sensation on state television by contemplating bizarre hypotheticals at the intersection of Islamic law and sexuality. One of his most outlandish scenarios -- still mocked by Iranians three decades later -- went like this:
Imagine you are a young man sleeping in your bedroom. In the bedroom directly below, your aunt lies asleep. Now imagine that an earthquake happens that collapses your floor, causing you to fall directly on top of her. For the sake of argument, let's assume that you're both nude, and you're erect, and you land with such perfect precision on top of her that you unintentionally achieve intercourse. Is the child of such an encounter halalzadeh (legitimate) or haramzadeh (a bastard)?
Such tales of random ribaldry may sound anomalous in the seemingly austere, asexual Islamic Republic of Iran. But the "Gili Show," as it came to be known, had quite the following among both the traditional classes, who were titillated by his taboo topics, and the Tehrani elite, who tuned in for comic relief. Gilani helped spawn what is now a virtual cottage industry of clerics and fundamentalists turned amateur sexologists offering incoherent advice on everything from quickies ("The man's goal should be to lighten his load as soon as possible without arousing his woman") to masturbation ("a grave, grave sin which causes scientific and medical harm")...

...in the Islamic Republic of Iran all politics may not be sexual, but all sex is political. Exhibit A is the revolution's father, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Like all Shiite clerics aspiring to become a "source of emulation" (marja'-e taqlid), Khomeini spent the first part of his career meticulously examining and dispensing religious guidance on personal behavior and ritual purity that ranged from the mundane ("It is recommended not to hold back the need to urinate or defecate, especially if it hurts") to the surprisingly lewd.

In his 1961 religious treatise A Clarification of Questions (Towzih al-Masael), Khomeini issued detailed pronouncements on issues ranging from sodomy ("If a man sodomizes the son, brother, or father of his wife after their marriage, the marriage remains valid") to bestiality ("If a person has intercourse with a cow, a sheep, or a camel, their urine and dung become impure and drinking their milk will be unlawful")...

...Because of its religious pretensions, however, the Iranian regime is forced to spend untold millions of dollars trying to jam satellite TV broadcasts to prevent them from reaching the country's citizens -- a futile attempt to simultaneously repel the forces of both technology and human nature. In an interview with the New Yorker several years ago, an Iranian security official candidly assessed the challenge at hand:
The majority of the population is young.… Young people by nature are horny. Because they are horny, they like to watch satellite channels where there are films or programs they can jerk off to.… We have to do something about satellite television to keep society free from this horny jerk-off situation.
One might assume a country that suffers from chronic inflation and unemployment -- not to mention harsh international sanctions and a potential war over its nuclear program -- would have better things to do than discourage its youth from masturbating. Yet the regime continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into Chinese censorship technology to create a moral Iron Dome against political and cultural subversion, with decidedly mixed results...

...Khomeini's opposition to the shah was fueled in part by the latter's enfranchisement of women, which the ayatollah deliberately conflated with sexual decadence. In his 1970 book Islamic Governance (Hukumat-e Islami) -- which would later provide the ideological and political template for post-revolutionary Iran -- Khomeini hyperventilated that "sexual vice has now reached such proportions that it is destroying entire generations, corrupting our youth, and causing them to neglect all forms of work! They are all rushing to enjoy the various forms of vice that have become so freely available and so enthusiastically promoted."

Khomeini nonetheless reassured his liberal revolutionary compatriots -- just months before the revolution, while in Paris exile -- that "women [would be] free in the Islamic Republic in the selection of their activities and their future and their clothing." Much to its retrospective dismay, a sizable chunk of Iran's liberal intelligentsia -- both male and female -- lined up behind Khomeini, some even referring to him as an "Iranian Gandhi." Shortly after consolidating power, however, Khomeini and his disciples swiftly moved to crush opposing views and curtail female social and sartorial freedoms...

...The brutal reality is that Iranians had entrusted their national destiny to a man, Khomeini, who had spent far more time thinking about the religious penalties for fornicating with animals than how to run a modern economy...

...Interestingly, the word Khamenei employs against the potential unveiling of women -- fitna -- is the same word used to describe the opposition Green Movement that took to the streets in the summer of 2009 to protest President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's contested reelection. In other words, women's hair is itself seen as seditious and counterrevolutionary. Even so-called liberal politicians in the Islamic Republic have long fixated on this issue. Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, Iran's first post-revolutionary president, who has spent the past three decades exiled in France, reportedly once asserted that women's hair has been scientifically proven to emit sexually enticing rays. (An Iranian satirist responded with a cartoon showing a man inadvertently aroused while eating lunch at his friend's home; the culprit turned out to be an errant strand of his friend's wife's hair in the ghormeh sabzi stew, an Iranian national dish.)...

..."For Islamic Republic officials, the hijab has vast symbolic importance; it is what holds up the dam, keeping all of Iranians' other demands for social freedoms at bay," says Azadeh Moaveni, an Iranian-American author. "Relax on the hijab, they think, and all hell will break loose; next people will want to swill beer on the street and read uncensored novels. They think of it as a gateway freedom." ...

...to help accommodate the apparently incorrigibly wandering libido of the Iranian male, the country's parliament -- composed of Khamenei loyalists -- has supported sharia-sanctioned "temporary marriages" (known in Persian as sigheh) allowing men as many sexual partners as they want. The marriage contract can last as little as a few minutes, and it doesn't need to be officially registered. The man can abruptly end the sigheh when he likes, but initiating divorce is far more difficult for women. Indeed, women who stray from the sanctity of their marriages do so at grave risk -- dozens have been stoned to death in Iran for adultery...

...In a well-publicized national scandal in 2008, the Tehran police commander responsible for enforcing Iran's strict anti-vice laws, Reza Zarei, was caught nude in a brothel with six women (one of the women claimed he had asked them to pray naked in front of him). While American politicians might bounce back from such transgressions with their own television show (see: Spitzer, Eliot), the revelation of the incident reportedly led Zarei to attempt suicide while in prison...

...perhaps the seminal -- and most heartbreaking -- moment of the Green Revolution was the murder of a 26-year-old female protester, Neda Agha-Soltan, whose bloody death was caught on cell-phone camera and rendered one of the most viral videos in history. In an HBO documentary about her life, Neda's mother recalls a message that some sympathetic female Basij members relayed to Neda days before she was killed by a sniper: "Dear, please don't come out looking so beautiful.… Do us a favor and don't come out because the Basiji men target beautiful girls. And they will shoot you."

While the iconic faces of Iran's 1979 revolution were bearded, middle-aged men, Neda has come to symbolize the new face of dissent in 21st-century Iran: a young, modern, educated woman. For her opposition to the regime and to the hijab, she is the embodiment of fitna in Khamenei's eyes...

...Khamenei's vast collection of writings and speeches makes clear that the weapons of mass destruction he fears most are cultural -- more Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga than bunker busters and aircraft carriers. In other words, Tehran is threatened not only by what America does, but by what America is: a depraved, postmodern colonial power bent on achieving global cultural hegemony. America's "strategic policy," Khamenei has said, "is seeking female promiscuity."

Khamenei's words capture the paradox and perversion of modern Iran. While dropping bombs on the Iranian regime could likely prolong its shelf-life, a regime that sees women's hair as an existential threat is already well past its sell-by date.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Presidents Report October 4, 2013 2:57 PM anonymous
INTRODUCTION TO THE HUMANISTS July 9, 2013 10:14 PM anonymous
President of the Humanist Society of WA April 26, 2013 4:18 PM anonymous
EVENT REPORT: Sean Faircloth Tour April 25, 2013 7:57 PM anonymous
useful web links for Humanists January 30, 2013 2:52 PM anonymous
Rationalist Society plan for a secular Australia January 30, 2013 2:22 PM anonymous
WA Humanists: How are we doing? December 18, 2012 10:09 AM anonymous
Constitution of the Humanist Society of WA January 19, 2013 4:22 PM anonymous
Humanism in brief – a personal view November 15, 2012 12:50 PM anonymous
Bookclub Books - Scheduled and Under Consideration March 12, 2015 10:53 PM anonymous
Explaining and defending Humanism September 10, 2012 9:26 PM anonymous
Constitutional recognition for Aboriginal People August 23, 2012 10:28 PM anonymous

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