Dubious reports circulate that a bill pending in Iran would force Jews and other religious minorties to wear identifying insignia—in an obvious echo of Nazi Germany. Predictably, the Iranian regime is calling the allegations a Jewish conspiracy. From the Financial Times:
Iranian officials and politicians have strongly condemned a Canadian newspaper report alleging that Iran had passed a law requiring Jews to wear yellow badges on their clothes.
The story also claimed Christians and Zoroastrians, the two other main religious minorities in mainly Muslim Iran, would have to wear badges identifying themselves.
“When I heard this, I immediately felt it was a mischievous act, a fresh means of pressure against the Iranian government,” Maurice Motammed, the Jews’ deputy in the Iranian parliament, told the FT on Sunday. “We representatives for religious minorities are active in the parliament, and there has never been any mention of such a thing.”
The story, published in Canada’s National Post on Friday, was also reported by the UPI news agency and widely posted on websites.
It led Chuck Schumer, a US senator to issue a news release calling the Iranian regime “lunatic” and “pernicious”. At a White House press briefing, spokesman Sean McCormack said such a measure would be “despicable” and “carry clear echoes of Germany under Hitler”.
Chris Wattie, the reporter, sourced his story only to Jewish groups and “Iranian exiles”. He quoted Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, saying the move was “reminiscent of the holocaust” and that Iran was “moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis”.
The Post story was drawn from a column in the paper by Amir Taheri, editor of the state-owned Kayhan newspaper under the Shah of Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mr Taheri claimed the law was “drafted two years ago” and had been revived “under pressure” from President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.
“The new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognise non-Muslims so that they can avoid shaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis (unclean),” Mr Taheri wrote.
A contributor to various newspapers including the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a leading Arabic-language newspaper, Mr Taheri is an opponent of talks between the US and Iran.
He wrote in the New York Post last month the US should “go for regime change in Tehran” as the only way to stop Iran’s drive to “dominate the region and use it as the nucleus of an Islamic superpower which would then seek global domination”.
In Tehran, Hamid-Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesmen, said “a Zionist operation” was “active in different countries, including Canada, to foment psychological war and spread lies” about Iran.
“It’s being done now because of the nuclear issue to give a negative image of the Islamic Republic,” he added.
From the Israel Hasbara Committee, which is not quite convinced there isn’t something to the story:
Identifying Badges for Jews in Iran?
A few days ago a incredible story appeared in Canada’s National Post newspaper about a proposed new Iran law obligating Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims to wear special clothing to identify themselves. This was in the context of requiring all Iranians to wear standard clothing.
According to the report, Jews would be required to wear a yellow strip of cloth on their clothes, Christians would wear red badges, and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth. The idea is to make non-Muslims identifiable and to be shunned by Muslims, exactly like the Nazi law in the 1930s obligating all Jews to wear yellow stars so that the average German would shun them.
The report stated further that the law had been passed in the Iranian parliament, the Majlis but needed to be approved by Iran’s supreme authority, Ali Khamenehi, before it could actually become law.
Subsequent to this alarming report, there have been Iranian denials that such a law was going to be passed. “The dress code program being discussed in parliament has no relation to religious minorities. These reports are a flat out lie,” says Iranian lawmaker Imad Efrog, who proposed the “National Uniform Law.”
The question is how anyone could dream up such a report if there was in fact no basis, in fact, in the first place.
Should such a dress code ever become law it would be a watershed for Iran. It will place Iran on a path of no return.
Just as likely as Zionist disinformation is a strawman by the mullahs—once the world is relieved to find that Jews are not being forced to wear Nazi-style yellow stars, there will be less protest at what actually does appear to be a ghastly piece of legislation. The following AP story outlines what the bill really would do. We have no problem with protectionist measures to defend Iran’s clothing industry from foreign competition. But the state has no business telling women how to dress, and we are skeptical of assurances that nothing in the bill is mandatory. (State-sanctioned social pressure is a form of coercion.) What is frustrating is that the measure is being posed as a form of resistance to globalization. So some of the same “progressives” who defend a woman’s right to go topless here in the West will defend this atrocious policy in Iran, just as the idiot left cheers on the Iraqi insurgents who would love to kill them as infidel communists and Allah-defying feminists if they ever got half the chance…
TEHRAN, Iran — A draft law aimed at encouraging Islamic dress raised fears Saturday that Iran’s hard-line government plans to re-impose veils and head-to-toe overcoats on women who have shirked the restrictions for years, letting hair show and wearing jeans and shapely outfits.
The looser social rules and dress codes are one of the few legacies left from Iran’s once-strong reform movement.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose election last summer spelled the virtual end of the reformists’ influence, came to office promising a return to Islamic values, with the support of clerical hard-liners.
Ahmadinejad has purged reformers from government, angered the West with calls for Israel’s destruction and taken a tough line resisting U.N. demands that he curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Iranian liberals had hoped that Ahmadinejad would not risk alienating a large sector of the young, who make up the majority of Iran’s 70 million population.
But the draft law, which got preliminary approval in parliament last week, had many concerned.
“It is a ridiculous bill. Young Iranian girls will not return to the so-called Islamic loose-fitting clothes,” said Sahar Gharakhani, a 25-year-old secretary wearing a colorful headscarf and a stylish jacket in Tehran on Saturday.
“The only way for authorities to make this happen is if they force it,” she said.
The social gains made in the past were often measured in hemlines and retreating headscarves.
Laws in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution require women to wear “chador” — a head-to-toe, loose-fitting black overcoat and veil that covers their hair and hides their shapes. They were enforced by religious police and paramilitaries, who castigated women who showed too much hair, wore makeup or had a chador that did not fit the required dark colors and shape.
Under President Mohammad Khatami, elected in 1997, enforcement became lax, and women took advantage, adding color to their clothes, pulling back scarves and shortening their coats.
Now on Tehran’s busy streets, only some women adhere to the strict code of the chador. Others are seen in scarves that leave almost their entire heads bare, showing blonde-highlighted hair, and brightly colored formfitting jackets, called “manteaus,” that stop just under the waist, revealing jeans and sandaled feet with painted nails.
The 13-article bill — which focuses on economic incentives for Islamic dress — has been touted by conservatives as a vital tool to curb Western influence in the conservative Islamic Republic. No date has been set yet on a final vote on the bill.
“This bill brings no obligation, no imposition,” said Emad Afresh, an Iranian lawmaker.
“It only requires the government to support the private sector,” he said, adding that it was a way to “resist the (Western) cultural onslaught in a world where globalization is being imposed.”
The bill does not call for police or other bodies to enforce stricter styles of dress for women. Instead, it rallies state agencies to promote Islamic dress and “encourage the public to abstain from choosing clothes that aren’t appropriate to the culture of Iran,” according to the copy received from the parliament’s press office.
It also would give economic incentives, including bank loans, to producers making Islamic-style clothing and impose tariffs on clothes imports. It leaves it to the Culture Ministry and others to define what Islamic dress means.
On Friday, a Canadian newspaper, The National Post, quoting Iranian exiles, said the law would force Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear special patches of colored cloth to distinguish them from Muslims. The report drew a condemnation from the United States, which said such a law would carry “clear echoes of Germany under Hitler.”
A copy of the draft law obtained by The Associated Press made no mention of religious minorities or any requirement of special attire for them, and the Post later posted an article on its Web site backing off the report.
A crackdown on social mores could face stiff public resistance at a time when Iranians are more concerned with reviving the country’s ailing economy and the escalating confrontation with the West.
Parvin Ardalan, a women’s activist and journalist in Tehran, said the government clearly aims “to fight the Western dress code.”
“But I don’t think that they can just eliminate the Western dress altogether. It’s going to be very difficult.”
Parvaneh Khedmati, a 22-year-old administrator in a clinic, said she opposes the bill, even though she already wears a conservative, all-covering chador that leaves only her face exposed.
“I chose to wear a chador, I wasn’t forced,” she said. “The government has no right to impose anything this personal on the people. … It’s like a government telling people what to eat.”
Instead of cheering on the mullahs, leftists in the West should be supporting Parvin Ardalan—whose online journal Iranian Feminist Tribune is now blocked to Internet users within Iran, Time magazine’s online edition noted Jan. 15. The story was picked up by the pro-opposition (exile-based) Iranian.com. Where are the voices of the anti-war left being raised in her defense?
See our last post on Iran.