Are women who wear revealing clothing and behave immorally responsible for earthquakes?
Today, the BBC reports that Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, a senior Iranian cleric, told the country’s media (with a straight face) that women who do not dress in dignified manner not only “lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society,” but also trigger earthquakes.
The cleric’s unusual explanation for quakes follows a prediction made by the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that a quake is certain to rock Tehran in the near future and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate to save their lives.
Dr. Bahram Akasheh, Dean of Engineering of Islamic Azad University North Tehran Branch, has been head of geophysics department of this university since 1994 and is considered one of Iran’s leading experts on earthquakes and seismic activity.
Dr. Akasheh says, “Earthquake education is very poor in Iran. Most people think that whatever God wills, will happen. This is absolutely wrong. This thinking is poisonous.”
He calculates there is a 90 percent chance of a 6.0-magnitude quake hitting the capital, as well as a 50 percent chance of 7.5-magnitude earthquake.
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Akasheh encourages scientific research and study into earthquakes and possible mitigation measures, such as urban development coordinated with the tight seismic regulations. The vast majority of buildings in Tehran, which are located on the convergence of some 100 known fault lines, are incapable of withstanding even a moderate earthquake.
Following the serious damage caused by the 2003 Bam earthquake, Akasheh wrote to the President of Iran in 2004, Mohammed Khatami, requesting that the capital be moved to Isfahan, which was the nation’s main center during the Persian Empire.
Tehran, which is located on several fault lines including one more than 50 miles long, has not had a major quake in the last 180 years.A hypothesis presented by Akasheh indicates that a 6.8 quake in Tehran would kill more than 700,000 people.
Perhaps Irans should follow Saudi Arabia’s example and prepare for the worst.
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