Friday, May 19, 2006

Jewish MP Denies Iran Badge Plan

Agence France-Presse:
Iran's only Jewish MP strongly denied reports in a Canadian newspaper overnight that Iran may force non-Muslims to wear coloured badges in public so they can be identified. "This report is a complete fabrication and is totally false," Maurice Motammed said in Tehran. "It is a lie, and the people who invented it wanted to make political gain" by doing so. READ MORE

The National Post newspaper quoted human rights groups as saying that Iran's parliament passed a law this week setting a public dress code and requiring non-Muslims to wear special insignia.

Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear a yellow, red or blue strip of cloth, respectively, on the front of their clothes, it said.

Mr Motammed said he had been present in parliament when a bill to promote "an Iranian and Islamic style of dress for women" was voted. "In the law, there is no mention of religious minorities," he added.

MPs representing Iran's Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian minorities sit on all parliamentary committees, particularly the cultural one, he said.

"This is an insult to the Iranian people and to religious minorities in Iran," he said.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said overnight, during an official visit to Ottawa, that "anything of that kind would be totally repugnant to civilised countries, if it's the case, and something that would just further indicate to me the nature of this regime. It would be appalling."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had only seen reports about the law but that he would not be surprised by them.

"Unfortunately, we have seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action," he said.

"It think it boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany," he added.

"The fact that such a measure could even be contemplated, I think, is absolutely abhorrent."

Harper's parliamentary secretary, Jason Kenney, told the House of Commons that Canadian officials were trying to verify the claims.
See more on this debate here.