In Sharia-Ruled Iran, Muslims Are Willing To Risk Corporal Punishment For A Slice Of Bacon

Jacob Bojesson | Foreign Correspondent

The demand for bacon, and by extension freedom, has created a large underground market in Iran, despite severe consequences if caught.

Pork meat and alcohol are illegal products for Muslims to consume in Iran. The Christian minority — made up of about 300,000 Armenians and Assyrians — can buy pork in certain stores. But for Muslims, the consequences can be severe if they are caught with a slice of bacon in their mouths.

“If you get caught by the modesty patrol, the religious police, you face fines, potentially corporal punishment,” Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There are unpleasant consequences for people getting caught … it has to do more with how strict the enforcement [of the] modesty patrol is.”

Authorities tried to deter people from consuming pork with propaganda, including a recent physicians report that pork consumption leads to miscarriages among women. (RELATED: Pork Wins ‘Meatball War’ With Muslim Immigration In Danish City)

The morality police patrol the streets to make sure everything is in order, but that won’t stop some Muslims from enjoying a taste of freedom.

Underground restaurants, where people can get a break from Sharia law, have popped up in the capital of Teheran. There, people can dress more freely, have a glass of wine and eat pork meat.

“Compared to normal restaurants, prices are a bit higher, but not excessively so. It certainly isn’t cheap for the restaurants owners to buy forbidden products,” an anonymous customer at an underground restaurant in Teheran told France 24 in April, 2015. “For me, this taste of freedom is worth the price!”

Several large shipments of pork have been detected in Iran in recent years, including 50 tons from Brazil in 2011 valued at approximately $28,000. The pork usually gets smuggled into the country by “tourists” on commercial flights, according to custom officials. (RELATED: Merkel’s Party Fights Religious Minorities On Right To Sausage)

What can and can’t enter the country illegally is heavily regulated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of Iran’s armed forces.

The IRGC has consciously expanded Iran’s underground economy in recent years, as it’s become more profitable. The weak rule of law in Iran makes it easy for smugglers to prosper with the right connections.

“Everybody knows that’s what they do,” Ottolenghi told TheDCNF. “They go out and take a cut from the drug cartels in exchange for smuggling to the territory of Iran without being caught.”

Iran’s Ministry of Finance estimates 20-25 percent of Iran’s GDP goes untaxed. This estimate makes the total value of Iran’s shadow economy $100 billion — a conservative measure.

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