Iran: Top Shia cleric says unveiled women turn men into beasts

Mashad, 10 April (AKI) - A top Shia cleric in Iran has said that unveiled women are a serious danger to Iranian society as they cause men to be "transformed into beasts".

"Women without the veil are a danger that the authorities underestimate," said Hojatolislam Seyyed Ahmad Elmalhoda, a powerful cleric who leads the Friday prayers in Mashad, a site considered sacred for Shia Muslims as it houses the shrine of Imam Reza.

"This situation is very serious in that if men see these bad women, they will turn into beasts, and then the whole of society will have to pay the consequences."

According to the Shia cleric, women who do not respect conservative Islamic dress rules are "sources of all that is bad in society."

"Respecting the chador (a long, black cloak that covers the arms and legs and is usually worn with a hijab) is the law of the state and the authorities must severely punish anyone who does not respect this law, in the same way that they punish thieves and murderers," said Elmadhoda.

He is who is also a member of the Council of Experts - a powerful body of 86 senior clerics which elects, supervises and can dismiss the country's supreme leader.

He was speaking to journalists who were reporting on president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the shrine of Imam Reza.

"A women who does not wear the entire veil is like a fire which burns anyone who comes into contact with her," said Elmalhoda.

"Our youth, even those who are educated by families who believe and respect the words of the Prophet, when they come into contact with this fire [the women who are not properly veiled] they burn and become ash," he said.


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