Friday, May 19, 2006

“Anne Frank” in Farsi

This creeps me out.

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.

But it doesn’t surprise me. Iran has been moving down this path since the revolution in 1979. It was only a matter of time, and frankly, I’m only surprised that they’re taking this step now. I would have thought they’d have done it years ago, given their solid record of anti-Semitism.

I have a feeling that the Iranian government is doing this for the sole purpose of pissing off the West. They perceive us as both weak and bellicose; we talked a big game before the Iraq invasion and are now bogged down the the desert version of a quagmire not unlike Vietnam. We are seen, as the Chinese called us back then, as a paper tiger. This law is more a punch in the nose to outside world than an attack on their own citizens. That said, it doesn’t make it any less of an affront to everything an advanced civilization should stand for, whether or not it’s secular or theocratic.

I suppose the right wing is saying this should be our excuse for regime change or nuking Tehran or some such madness; that the lesson the of Third Reich was that you do not negotiate with a government that would do such things as brand citizens by their religion. That would only prove Mr. Ahmadinejad’s point to his captive audience that the West is determined to colonize the world and destroy Islam. As odious as this regime is, attacking them will only make it worse.

The world should rise up and denounce this with one voice and back it up with strict sanctions against Iran and any nation or organization that comes to their aid or defense. And that should happen now. We can’t wait for a new production of The Diary of Anne Frank in Farsi.

This is why we need a president who can speak from a strong position of moral leadership and authority on behalf of the rest of the world. It would be really nice if we had one like that.

Update – 3:45 pm: Now I’m seeing reports that call the story into question. The original story ran on the website for Canada’s National Post, which is considered to be their version of the Washington Times. Stay tuned. I would be only too happy to have it proven false.

Further update – 9:15 pm: The link to the original story has been pulled from the site and National Post has put up another story saying the original one was “untrue.”

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.

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.

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.

Now the question arises: where did this story come from and who conned the National Post into running it? Enquiring minds want to know.