Experts say report of badges for Jews in Iran is untrue
Chris Wattie, National Post: After the National Post pull her earlier story she published this.
Several experts are casting doubt on reports that Iran had passed a law requiring the country’s Jews and other religious minorities to wear coloured badges identifying them as non-Muslims.See my initial thoughts on this controversy here.
The Iranian embassy in Otttawa also denied the Iranian government had passed such a law.
A news story and column by Iranian-born analyst Amir Taheri in yesterday’s National Post reported that the Iranian parliament had passed a sweeping new law this week outlining proper dress for Iran’s majority Muslims, including an order for Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians to wear special strips of cloth. READ MORE
According to the reports, Jews were to wear yellow cloth strips, called zonnar, while Christians were to wear red and Zoroastrians blue.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre and Iranian expatriates living in Canada had confirmed that the order had been passed, although it still had to be approved by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect.
Hormoz Ghahremani, a spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, said in an e-mail to the Post yesterday that, “We wish to categorically reject the news item.
“These kinds of slanderous accusations are part of a smear campaign against Iran by vested interests, which needs to be denounced at every step.”
Sam Kermanian, of the U.S.-based Iranian-American Jewish Federation, said in an interview from Los Angeles that he had contacted members of the Jewish community in Iran — including the lone Jewish member of the Iranian parliament — and they denied any such measure was in place.
Mr. Kermanian said the subject of “what to do with religious minorities” came up during debates leading up to the passing of the dress code law.
“It is possible that some ideas might have been thrown around,” he said. “But to the best of my knowledge the final version of the law does not demand any identifying marks by the religious minority groups.”
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.
“In any case, there is no way that they could have forced Iranian Jews to wear this,” he added. “The Iranian people would never stand for it.”
However, Mr. Kermanian added that Jews in Iran still face widespread, systematic discrimination. “For example if they sell food they have to identify themselves and their shops as non-Muslim,” he said.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, acknowledged that he did not have independent confirmation of the requirement for Jews to wear badges, but said he still believes it was passed.
“We know that the national uniform law was passed and that certain colours were selected for Jews and other minorities,” he said. “[But] if the Iranian government is going to pass such a law then they are not likely to be forthcoming about what they are doing.”
Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, said yesterday that Iran is “very capable” of enacting such a law but could not confirm reports that members of religious minorities must wear identifiable markers on their clothing.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action,” Mr. Harper said. “It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the earth would want to do anything that would remind people of Nazi Germany.”