Doubtless Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the U.S.'s most prominent apologist for Sharia, is jetting to Tehran as we speak, or perhaps bicycling there, to explain to the Ayatollah Elm Alhuda that he is misunderstanding Sharia, and that it is actually benign and fully compatible with Western notions of human rights. "Women should only ride bicycles in their backyards," from Mohabat News, July 29 (thanks to Lachlan):
Mohabat News -- According to a report by Shahrzad News, The issue of women cycling in public has resurfaced in Iran, with an ayatollah suggesting that they should only ride bicycles in their own backyards.
The various Iranian religious factions have for some time been jockeying for position around the issue, each hoping to advance its own political agenda by gaining the support of women. Meanwhile, as in many cities in the West, Tehran's mayor has created cycle paths in an attempt to ease traffic congestion. However the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Elm Alhuda, Friday prayer Imam in the holy city of Mashad and a fierce opponent of the scheme, says "It is not a sin for a woman to sit on a bicycle saddle, provided she does so indoors or in her backyard. But if she cycles in public .... her movements and posture will lead to corruption and prostitution."
Wow! Who knew?
And according to the Ghanoon website, last year the leader of the majority factions in the Majles (parliament) said that the idea of women being allowed to ride bicycles in public was 'suspicious' and 'instigated by anti-Islamic elements'.
Those crafty "anti-Islamic elements"! What will they think of next? Women's tennis?
Furthermore the head of Greater Tehran's cultural and social committee says the council has already banned women from cycling in the capital, and claims that the mayor of Tehran has agreed to comply with the decision.
However the council's environment head strongly opposes the ban, accusing conservatives of negligence. He told local press: "Sadly women are blamed for many of our country's social problems, and we have to endure various over-sensitive irrational demands that they cover up in public. If men don't want to see women cycling through the streets, I suggest they close their eyes." Finally, the director of an organisation that is in favour of women cycling in Tehran said that half the capital's population were females, and that no Iranian law prevented them from riding bicycles.
It is unfortunate to see Mohabat News following the mainstream media in calling this lunatic ayatollah and his allies "conservative." Here again, this creates a ridiculous situation, in which Sharia hardliners and Sharia opponents are both simultaneously called "conservatives." It is not "conservative" to forbid women to ride bicycles in public. It is just stupid and oppressive.