Smart Take

05.03.132:00 PM ET

Iranian Cleric Blames Women for Earthquakes

From Tom Gross's Mideast dispatch, news from Iran of an important new breakthrough in our understanding of seismic phenomena.

WOMEN TO BLAME FOR EARTHQUAKES, SAYS TOP IRANIAN CLERIC

A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told Iranian media.

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon last week. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."

Seismologists have warned that it is likely Tehran will be struck by a major quake in the near future. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

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