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Iran Requiring Badges for Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians?

[UPDATE: For more on this subject, which casts doubt on the story quoted below, see here.]

The National Post (Canada) reports:

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims....

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth....

The new law was drafted two years ago, but was stuck in the Iranian parliament until recently when it was revived at the behest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa refused to comment on the measures.

[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has repeatedly described the Holocaust as a myth and earlier this year announced Iran would host a conference to re-examine the history of the Nazis' "Final Solution."

He has caused international outrage by publicly calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map." ...

I haven't seen any other stories on this, and the information trail cited in the story seems a little indirect — can anyone shed more light on this?

Many thanks to Clay Young for the pointer.

UPDATE: A Montreal radio station reports:

[I]ndependent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is ... "... absolutely factually incorrect[.]"

"Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."

"The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it."

Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago....

(Thanks to OpinionJournal's Best of the Web and to reader Victor Steinbok for pointing me to this.)

As I noted in the original post, the information trail cited in the story seems a little indirect — if anyone can shed more light on this, I'd be much obliged.

Goobermunchermunch (mail):
Conflicting reports are already appearing.

This link (http://www.940news.com/locale.php?news=2512) suggests that it's a hoax. Nevertheless, there's not a lot of independant verification for either story.

--G
5.19.2006 2:04pm
billb:
When I saw this on Fark, I wondered how long it would take it to make it here. (In fact, it's on the front page of Fark.com twice now). Here's a link to a UPI story that covers the material as well.
5.19.2006 2:07pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Can we even discuss this without violating Godwin's Law? Did I just violate Godwin's Law? I'm so confused!
5.19.2006 2:07pm
Goobermunchermunch (mail):
Some more linkage, but it's all from the National Post, so take with a grain of salt.

Link 1
Link 2

I'd also take hesitate before relying on the UPI story as verification, since it appears to me to be based on the original report.

—G
5.19.2006 2:14pm
George Coulouris:
This is all I've been able to find that resembles an official report.

http://www.iribnews.ir/Full_en.asp?news_id=213272
5.19.2006 2:15pm
Joel B. (mail):
This seems so farcical, but what can one expect from Ahmadinejad, to deny the holocaust and then proceed to reenact it.
5.19.2006 2:58pm
Raw_Data (mail):
The story in the National Post is very thinly sourced and refers only to "Iranian expatriates living in Canada."

Poor journalism, I think, when you are dealing with such an explosive story. How did the expats hear about it? Is there even a copy of the law anywhere? etc etc.

Things are so tense that we should be especially rigorous so as to avoid false alarms. This report could well be a feint originating from the Iranian propaganda machine so as to undermine those who think Iran a real danger, if you follow my logic.
5.19.2006 2:58pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Seen elsewhere: "Iran is just trolling now."
5.19.2006 3:18pm
BGates (mail) (www):
Daniel - Godwin's Law is descriptive, not proscriptive:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Topics like this don't violate the law, they are trivial demonstrations of the law.
5.19.2006 3:27pm
Steve:
This seems so farcical, but what can one expect from Ahmadinejad, to deny the holocaust and then proceed to reenact it.

Ahmadinejad is not some kind of omnipotent God-Emperor. The article suggests that this law was passed by the Iranian Parliament.

This story is definitely worth getting to the bottom of. If true, the practice should be (but won't be) universally condemned. If false, it would make one wonder to what end such stories are disseminated...
5.19.2006 3:35pm
Seamus (mail):

If false, it would make one wonder to what end such stories are disseminated...



Yeah, what possible reason would Iranian exiles in Canada have to make the government now ruling their homeland look bad? (Or CBS News to rush to report questionable stories about George Bush's National Guard service? )
5.19.2006 3:55pm
Matthew in Denver:
Haaretz (Jewish daily from Israel) is covering the story.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/717902.html
But they seem to be quoting the same sources from Canada, and even put a disclaimer at the bottom of their article that they are not fully confident in the sources.
5.19.2006 4:03pm
tefta (mail):
Are there Jews living in Iran?
5.19.2006 5:10pm
cirby (mail):
Not for long, apparently.
5.19.2006 5:13pm
Meryl Yourish (www):
Some 25,000 Jews live in Iran, and are unable to emigrate. If you want to leave Iran and visit another country, you have to leave part of your family as hostages. The Iranians will not allow entire Jewish families to go out of the country together.
5.19.2006 5:27pm
gab (mail):
The real question is, are there still Zoroastrians wandering the planet? And what the hell are they doing in Iran? And lastly, how do I join?
5.19.2006 5:47pm
Bisch:
So if this isn't true, are we going to see riots at the Canadian Embassy?
5.19.2006 6:44pm
Redman:
It was those cartoons that did it.
5.19.2006 6:55pm
Syd (mail):
gab: There are somewhere between 200,000 and 2 million Zoroastrians in the world. I don't know how the higher number came about, except that the number in Iran is really a complete guess. The Parsees in India are Zoroastrian.
5.19.2006 6:56pm
Andrew:
The ADL offers evidence to suggest that another religious minority, the Bahai, are in danger:

<blockquote>
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief recently revealed the existence of a confidential letter from the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of Iran's Armed Forces ordering the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force to identify and collect information about members of the Bahai faith.
</blockquote>

From http://www.adl.org/PresRele/Mise_00/4898_00.htm
5.19.2006 6:59pm
microtherion:
As for "what the hell" Zoroastrians are doing in Iran, Zoroastrianism started there and once was the dominant religion.
5.19.2006 7:09pm
Karl (mail):
Goobermunchermunch's first link is to a piece written by Amir Taheri, who has published in papers across the political spectrum, in a number of countries, and was the editor of Iran's largest daily newspaper. He's probably not easily hoaxed.
5.19.2006 7:34pm
Karl (mail):
However, DEBKA says the draft law does not contain provisions requiring special dress for non-Muslim minorities. DEBKA is obviously a pro-Israel source, which lends weight to their report in this case.

It may be that the expatriates are looking at the history of the yellow patch for Jews in Iran.
5.19.2006 7:43pm
Observer (mail):
Yes, the story seems to originate with Amir "everything is hunky-dory in Iraq" Taheri. Caveat emptor
5.19.2006 10:21pm
r4d20 (mail):

This site www.avesta.org is good site to see Zoroastrian texts - but the "editorial" section is EXTREMELY culturally conservative and not representative of all Zoroastrians.

Zoroastrianism arose out of the Aryan branch of the Indo-European old religion depicted in the Rig Veda.
5.19.2006 11:38pm
Karl (mail):
Taheri just got back from a trip to Iraq; I suspect Observer did not.

As for the actual topic, the National Post story backtracking from its initial report contains this:


Ali Reza Nourizadeh, an Iranian commentator on political affairs in London, suggested that the requirements for badges or insignia for religious minorities was part of a "secondary motion" introduced in parliament, addressing the changes specific to the attire of people of various religious backgrounds.

Mr. Nourizadeh said that motion was very minor and was far from being passed into law.

That account could not be confirmed.

Meir Javdanfar, an Israeli expert on Iran and the Middle East who was born and raised in Tehran, said yesterday that he was unable to find any evidence that such a law had been passed.

"None of my sources in Iran have heard of this," he said. "I don't know where this comes from."

Mr. Javdanfar said that not all clauses of the law had been passed through the parliament and said the requirement that Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians wear special insignia might be part of an older version of the Islamic dress law, which was first written two years ago.


So it's not like Taheri just dreamed this up. Moreover, there's historical precedent for it in Iran.

Nevertheless, it's one story we can be glad that Taheri and the Post apparently got wrong.
5.20.2006 3:07am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
If there are Zorastrians left in the world, the most likely place for them would be Iran. It was apparently the state religion there (of the Persian Empire) from 550-330 B.C. Because it was common in Babylon during that time, it apparently found its way into Judaism (and hence Christianity and Islam).

But more significantly, it seems to have had an ever bigger impact on Islam, and, in particular, Shiite Islam (no surprise there, since Shite Islam was developed there). For example, Zorastrians prayed five times a day at set times (though, I believe that Shias only have to pray three times a day). The Shiites adopted the Zorastrian calendar, with New Years being the spring Equinox (whereas, I believe, the Sunnis are much closer to the Jewish calendar). Also, I believe that a lot of Shiite, and, in particular, Iranian Shiite religious holidays were originally Zorastrian.
5.20.2006 11:03am
markm (mail):
There are definitely Zoroastrians left in India, where some degree of tolerance for all faiths has long been a necessity. Some of Kipling's stories feature Zoroastrians, which he called "Parsees", a word that obviously has common roots with "Persian" and "Farsi". It's probably been harder for Zoroastrians to survive in Iran since it became Muslim.
5.22.2006 5:14pm