Is Iranian saffron illegal? – How To Harvest Saffron

In October 2003, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, the country’s highest religious authority, announced it had issued a fatwa banning all saffron. The fatwa was backed by Ayatollah Sadeq Jazaeri-Molkar, chief of Iran’s Supreme Leader’s Council of Guardianship (SCGJ), in an article published in the official Fars news agency on October 5. Jazaeri-Molkar, one of Iran’s most powerful clerics and the SCGJ’s senior member, said the prohibition was “an Islamic decree of the country and a necessary measure to preserve the purity and the health of the nation.” He added that the decree had become necessary because “the use of saffron is a stain on Islamic sanctity” and warned of “a number of consequences” if the “use of saffron became so widespread that the use of it would be in violation of religious laws.” Saffron had “bad health benefits for humans and animals,” he continued.

Although the ruling appeared to be a direct reaction to the ban on other colors of “nourish fabrics” made of silk (which is illegal in Iran), and not in response to a “saffron wave” as critics had suggested, it was also reported in the official news agency that the decree had been issued in response to “irregularities concerning the cultivation of saffron,” and not as a ban on all silk, saffron-based fabrics, or most other types of organic material. Still, according to Iran’s legal system, “fraudulent or illegal cultivation or use of saffron is an offense punishable by a fine from 100 to 500 lashes and up to three years in prison.”

The ban did not apply to other kinds of natural fabric, such as silk, wool, woolen and denim textiles.

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The SCGJ official, Molkar, was also quoted as making similar remarks during a speech in December 2003 before the National Islamic Congress, an Iranian think tank. Filling its airwaves with a steady stream of reports of the spread of saffron, Molkar said that Iranian authorities were “strictly following” the fatwa and the government was “taking the necessary steps.” After the broadcast, a spokesman told the Financial Times that the SCGJ’s spokesman was not available for comment.

In April 2004, the SCG

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Is Iranian saffron illegal? – How To Harvest Saffron
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