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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.

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More on Iranian Dress Code?

The The Canadian Press agency reports that Iranian legislators are denying the allegations that a new bill would require Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians in Iran to wear special insignia:

Iranian politicians -- including [Morris Motamed,] a Jewish legislator in Tehran -- were infuriated by the Post report, which they called false.

"Such a plan has never been proposed or discussed in parliament," Motamed told the Associated Press.

"Such news, which appeared abroad, is an insult to religious minorities here."

Another Iranian legislator said the newspaper has distorted a bill that he presented to parliament, which calls for more conservative clothing for Muslims.

"It's a sheer lie. The rumours about this are worthless," Emad Afroogh said.

Afroogh's bill seeks to make women dress more traditionally and avoid Western fashions. Minority religious labels have nothing to do with it, he said.

"The bill is not related to minorities. It is only about clothing," he said....

Non-Muslims in Afghanistan were required to wear arm bands under the former Taliban regime.

The practice is a throwback to centuries-old rules imposed on non-Muslims living in Islamic states. Under Dhimmi law, non-Muslims were guaranteed security in exchange for paying a tax and wearing special labels on their clothing.

Meantime, the National Post -- the original source of the story -- is reporting on the claims that the story was mistaken, and also writing:

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." ...

Thanks to reader Victor Steinbok for the pointer.

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Jewish Member of Iranian Parliament:

Who knew? The Iranian dress-code-for-non-Muslims-or-not story taught me that there is such a member -- Morris Motamed -- and he is in fact the member set aside to represent Iran's 25,000-person Jewish community. Here's an Australian Broadcasting Corporation story that mentions him, and his status.

Naturally, this doesn't mean that Jews in Iran have equal rights, or are treated well by the government or by fellow citizens -- the presence of a non-set-aside Jewish politician would be much better evidence of social tolerance than the presence of a set-aside one -- but only that Iran's Islamic legal system sometimes yields things that are unexpected to the uninitiated.

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National Post Apologizes for the Iranian-Jews-Required-to-Wear-Identifying-Markers Story:

See this Reuters report. "It is now clear the story is not true .... We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story."

I also regret having passed along what proved to be an incorrect claim. I flagged my uncertainty in the original post, but I'd much prefer to have not quoted what proves to be a false story, than to have quoted it even with a not-sure-whether-this-is-right disclaimer.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. National Post Apologizes for the Iranian-Jews-Required-to-Wear-Identifying-Markers Story:
  2. Jewish Member of Iranian Parliament:
  3. More on Iranian Dress Code?
  4. Iran Requiring Badges for Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians?
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