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Making God Mad

Angry Zeus, Complete With Lightning Bolt The recent earthquake in Turkey, with its horrific consequences, reminds me of the following observation, reported in The New York Times a year and a half ago. A senior cleric, one Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, warned that the “unIslamic” behavior of certain “loose” women is responsible for natural disasters in general and earthquakes in particular. “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,” claimed the imam. (Iran, like Turkey, is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.)

“What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?” asked Mr. Sedighi during a Friday prayer sermon. His answer: “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion.”

I, for one, can think of a few other solutions: More precise seismic monitoring systems, more efficient, prompt and wide-ranging early warning technologies, strictly enforced anti-earthquake building codes, and so forth.

Turkey, like Iran, is 99-percent Muslim, but presumably its 99 percent hasn’t been sufficiently devout (especially the women). Indeed, it would be interesting to see if the frequency of Turkish earthquakes increased when Ataturk established his officially secular republic and similarly, if Iran enjoyed a parallel reduction in earthquakes after Khomeini initiated his rigorously “Islamic” republic.
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