Cleric: sinners delay earthquakes

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A prominent hardline Iranian cleric who said promiscuity and immodest dress cause earthquakes says God may be holding off on natural disasters in the West in order to let people sin more and therefore consign themselves to hell.

Kazem Sedighi sparked widespread derision with his pronouncements in a prayer sermon last month linking earthquakes with women's dress. In a new sermon yesterday, he has defended and elaborated on his claim.

Mr Sedighi notes that some might ask why there aren't more earthquakes and storms striking Western nations that are "up to their necks" in immorality. He says the answer is that God allows some of those who "provoke His wrath" to continue sinning "so that they eventually go to the bottom of Hell".