No sympathy

One of the reasons that religions are supposed to exist is to give comfort. It seems that some people think they shouldn’t even do that:

To Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s critics in the West, the image of him clasping hands with the grief-stricken mother of Hugo Chávez at her son’s funeral last week in Caracas might have seemed like a rare glimpse of a firebrand politician’s softer side. But the clerics who rule Iran saw something very different: proof that the Islamic Republic’s official representative had flouted that nation’s absolute ban on physical contact between unrelated men and women.

As the Iranian press blogger Arash Karami explained, the reaction to the photograph was swift and furious from religious conservatives. One of them, Hojat al-Islam Hossein Ibrahimi of the Society of Militant Clergy of Tehran, called on the authorities to ensure that the candidates to replace Mr. Ahmadinejad in the coming election be carefully screened to ensure that they understand what is prohibited by the laws of Shiite Islam. “In relation to what is allowed and what is forbidden,” he added, “we know that no unrelated women can be touched unless she is drowning at sea or needs medical treatment.”

I do believe that Hojat al-Islam Hossein Ibrahimi needs to be taught this thing called empathy and needs to understand that empathy is important for a society to exist.

I should note that the real reason for the cleric’s reaction might have much more to do with power politics and less to do with religion. It’s an opportunity to strike at Ahmadinejad, still it’s telling that this is considered a legitimate attack.

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