Iranian Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has issued a fatwa - a Muslim religious edict - saying it is legitimate for men to hit their disobedient wives
Shirazi, one of the leading clerics of the Shiite holy city of Qom, wrote on his website that "the Koran first of all advises a man to try and convince his wife to obey to him in a polite way and through advice, then by refusing to have sexual relations with her and, finally, if all this will have failed to make her reason, with physical punishment."
The punishment, the leading cleric said, "must be light and considered an exceptional event, like surgery in case of a serious illness."
Makarem Shirazi advised his readers against "physical punishment which leaves signs and wounds." Women, he explained, "are masochistic and sometimes they have a crisis and need light physical punishment to get back to normal."
Azam Taleghani, daughter of the late Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, one of the protagonists of the 1979 Islamic revolution, branded the fatwa as "an offence to women."
"It is not right to issue a fatwa based on texts written over one thousand years ago without taking into account today's reality," said Azam Taleghani, who runs one of Iran's leading feminists' associations. "If we learn that someone hits their wife on the basis of these statements we will report them along with Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi to the judicial authority of the Islamic Republic."
Iran: Muslim Cleric Supports Wife-Battering