Some Muslims object to having a dog in the home, writes Mattson, "because of a prophetic report that angels do not enter a home with dogs in it. If a Muslim accepts this report as authentic, it still requires an analysis of context to determine its meaning and legal application. Ordinary people are not recipients of divine revelation through angelic messengers, so it is possible that this statement, although in general form, might suggest a rule for the Prophet's home, not all homes. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact the Koran states that angels are always present, protecting us and recording our good and bad actions."

In fact, writes Mattson, "there is no doubt that the Koran is positive about dogs." The Muslim holy book, for example, allows the use of hunting dogs." The Koran also tells the stories of a dog that protected righteous children who were running away from religious persecution, standing guard over them as they slept in a cave.

"This tender description of the dog guarding the cave makes it clear that the animal is good company for believers," notes Mattson.

However, there is a wide variance of opinion among Muslims, notes R. Cort Kirkwood, writing in the New American. "Muslims are suspected of poisoning dogs in Spain because of the Islamic teaching that such pets are unclean," he writes, citing a report from Soeren Kern, an analyst with the Strategic Studies Group based in Madrid.

Spanish authorities are investigating the recent deaths by poisoning of more than a dozen dogs in Lérida, a city in the northeastern region of Catalonia that has become ground zero in an intensifying debate over the role of Islam in Spain.

All of the dogs were poisoned in September, according to EuropaPress, were in Lérida's working class neighborhoods Cappont and La Bordeta -- districts heavily populated by Muslim immigrants. Local residents say dogs are regularly killed and that in the past several months, residents taking their dogs for walks have been harassed by Muslim immigrants who are offended by seeing the animals in public. Muslims have also launched a number of anti-dog campaigns on Islamic websites and blogs based in Spain. In response to the "lack of sufficient police to protect the neighbourhood," 50 local residents have established alternating six-person citizen patrols to escort people walking their dogs, according to the website Hudson New York:

"In July, two Islamic groups based there asked city officials to regulate the presence of dogs in public spaces so they do not 'offend Muslims.' Muslims are demanding that dogs be banned from all forms of public transportation including all city buses as well as from all areas frequented by Muslim immigrants. Muslims in Lérida say the presence of dogs violates their religious freedom and their right to live according to Islamic principles."

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