Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sorry for Beating the Dead Horse: or the War on Hats!

Believe it or not, this newsletter makes an active effort to not be uniformly negative; in other words, an effort is made to illuminate the positive aspects of a naturalistic, secular and humanistic approach to life and not merely bash superstition.  The problem is, it’s too easy and too obvious and too necessary to bash superstition to not do it.

From Adnkronos International comes a story that would make the Onion proud; in fact, the story is so “Onion-like,” full confidence in its veracity must be reserved:

“Women have been banned from wearing boots and hats on the streets of Tehran.

Police chief, General Ahmad Radan, announced the ban on Wednesday saying that boots could only be worn if they were covered by pants.

"If boots are not covered by pants that fall to the ankles, they show the female shape and that is therefore in contradiction with Islamic dress code” said Radan.

Iranian women can no longer leave home with their pants pushed inside their boots and they can no longer wear hats without a veil.

"A hat is not an adequate substitute for a veil or a hijab," he said."  If someone really wants to wear a hat, they can put it on the veil."  (Go to http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Religion/?id=1.0.1662888444)

Ridiculous, right?  Can’t be true, right?

Well, Reuters subsequently reported the following:

“Iranian police detained 28 young men and women wearing "inappropriate and repulsive" clothing and confiscated alcohol at a party in a northeastern city, an Iranian news agency reported on Monday…

"The police officers arrested 18 girls and 10 boys with inappropriate and repulsive clothing in the house," he said…

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005, promising a return to the values of the 1979 Islamic revolution, hardliners have pressed for tighter controls on "immoral behavior".

The authorities this month launched a winter campaign against women wearing tight trousers tucked into long boots and other "improper dress" suchas short overcoats and hats instead of scarves.”  (Go to http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSDAH44031020071224.)

Hats instead of scarves!  What is Iran coming to?  At least the President of Iran is on the case. 

Lest anyone think that this kind of fanaticism or hypocrisy or insanity is limited to one stream of religious belief, one only needs to turn the page in a newspaper.

How about a brawl between priests, fighting in and about the legendary birth place of the Lord himself, Jesus Christ?

According to AFP:

“Seven people were injured on Thursday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Following the Christmas celebrations, Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings of their part of the church, which is built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.

But the ladders encroached on space controlled by Armenian priests, according to photographers who said angry words ensued and blows quickly followed.

For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.

"As usual the cleaning of the church afer Christmas is a cause of problems," Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh told AFP, adding that he has offered to help ease tensions.

"For the two years that I have been here everything went more or less calmly," he said. "It's all finished now."

The Church of the Nativity, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards a part of the holy site.

The Church of the Nativity is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born in a stable more than 2,000 years ago after Mary and Joseph were turned away by an inn.

A dozen unarmed Palestinian policemen were sent to try to separate the priests, but two of them were also injured in the unholy melee.”  (Go to http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5itableVuT2QIr2H6dF1FyV1gXZpQ.)

The BBC added:

“Palestinian police formed a human cordon to separate the battling dark-robed and bearded priests and deacons, said to number about 80, so that cleaning could continue.”  (Go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7161557.stm.)

Thank goodness the Palestinians were there to restore peace to the legendary place of the birth of the “Prince of Peace,” and Lord to all the combatants, Jesus.

And darn it for it being so easy to bash religion.



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