Western-style ownership of ‘unclean’ pets must stop declares Iranian cleric. He goes onto decree that dogs are “unclean and should not be kept as pets – a move aimed at discouraging Western-style dog ownership in the Islamic state, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

Dogs are considered “unclean” under Islamic tradition but, while relatively rare in Iran, some people do keep them as pets.

By issuing a fatwa — a religious ruling — Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi has sent a clear message that this trend must stop.

“Friendship with dogs is a blind imitation of the West,” he was quoted as saying in Javan daily. “There are lots of people in the West who love their dogs more than their wives and children.”

Guard dogs and sheep dogs are considered acceptable under Islamic law but Iranians who carry dogs in their cars or take them to public parks can be stopped by police and fined.

The Koran does not explicitly prohibit contact with dogs, Shirazi said, but Islamic tradition showed it to be so. “We have lots of narrations in Islam that say dogs are unclean.”