Iran’s Non-Muslims to Wear Identifying Badges
Iran’s parliament has passed a law that will require all citizens to wear what amounts to an Islamic uniform, with non-Muslims distinguished by different colored cloth strips.
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. “This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. “Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.”
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.
“There’s no reason to believe they won’t pass this,” said Rabbi Hier. “It will certainly pass unless there’s some sort of international outcry over this.” Bernie Farber, the chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was “stunned” by the measure. “We thought this had gone the way of the dodo bird, but clearly in Iran everything old and bad is new again,” he said. “It’s state-sponsored religious discrimination.”
While images of the Holocaust are the most obvious cultural precedent, perhaps they got the idea from Star Trek, where command officers, engineers, and scientists all wear different colors. After all, as Bruce McQuain notes, Iran’s president doesn’t believe the Holocaust ever happened, so how could that be the inspiration?
[I]ndependent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is false. “It’s absolutely factually incorrect,” he told The New 940 Montreal. “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.
No word yet on whether they are considering making Persian an official language or whether non-Muslims will be denied pension benefits.
Update: Apropos Rodney Dill‘s comment, one wonders if it’s not the Christians, rather than the Jews, who need to worry given that they guys in the red shirts were the ones invariably killed in Star Trek landing parties. Of course, that was only true on the original series. For some reason, red and yellow/gold swapped places for Next Generation onward.
Elsewhere, Bill Nienhuis has a photo montage that, on a somewhat lighter topic, he might have entitled “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”
Update: AllahPundit is tracking down the story and finds no independent corroboration. Indeed, the only thing leading it any credence at all is a companion piece by Amir Taheri, who most of us hold in high regard. He contends,
The new law, drafted during the presidency of Muhammad Khatami in 2004, had been blocked within the Majlis. That blockage, however, has been removed under pressure from Khatami’s successor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The new law replaces the one passed in 1982 dealing with women’s clothes. That law imposed the hijab and focused on the need to force women to cover their hair in public. The emphasis on the hijab was based on the belief that women’s hair emanates an “evil ray” that drives men “into lustful irrationality” and thus causes harm to Islam. The new law cannot come into effect until consensus is reached on what constitutes “authentic Islamic attire.”
Of course, the idea that religious traditions requiring women to dress modestly is based on “evil ray” theories doesn’t do much to enhance Taheri’s reportage.