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Another Fraud on Iran: No Legislation on Dress of Religious Minorities
by juan cole (reposted)
Saturday May 20th, 2006 9:46 AM
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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another Fraud on Iran: No Legislation on Dress of Religious Minorities

Maurice Motamed, the representative of the Iranian Jewish community in Iran's parliament, has strongly denied the rumors started by Canada's National Post that the Iranian legislature has passed a law requiring members of religious communities to wear identifying badges.

The report was also denied on Montreal radio by Meir Javedanfar, Middle East Analyst and the Director for the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company.

The National Post was founded by Conrad Black and has been owned by CanWest since 2003,* is not a repository of expertise about Iran. It is typical of black psychological operations campaigns that they begin with a plant in an out of the way* newspaper that is then picked up by the mainstream press. Once the Jerusalem Post picks it up, then reporters can source it there, even though the Post has done no original reporting and has just depended on the National Post article, which is extremely vague in its own sourcing (to "human rights groups").

The actual legislation passed by the Iranian parliament regulates women's fashion, and urges the establishment of a national fashion house that would make Islamically appropriate clothing. There is a vogue for "Islamic chic" among many middle class Iranian women that involves, for instance, wearing expensive boots that cover the legs and so, it is argued, are permitted under Iranian law. The scruffy, puritanical Ahmadinejad and his backers among the hardliners in parliament are waging a new and probably doomed struggle against the young Iranian fashionistas. (The Khomeinists give the phrase "fashion police" a whole new meaning).

There is nothing in this legislation that prescribes a dress code or badges for Iranian religious minorities, and Maurice Motamed was present during its drafting and says nothing like that was even discussed.

The whole thing is a steaming crock.

In fact, Iranian Jewish expatriates themselves have come out against a bombing campaign by the US or Israel against Iran. There are still tens of thousands of Jews in Iran, and expatriate Iranian Jews most often identify as Iranians and express Iranian patriotism. I was in Los Angeles when tens of thousands of Iranians immigrated, fleeing the Khomeini regime. I still remember Jewish Iranian families who suffered a year or two in what they thought of as the sterile social atmosphere of LA, and who shrugged and moved right back to Iran, where they said they felt more comfortable.

This affair is similar to the attribution to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the statement that "Israel must be wiped off the map." No such idiom exists in Persian, and Ahmadinejad actually just quoted an old speech of Khomeini in which he said "The occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." Of course Ahamdinejad does wish Israel would disappear, but he is not commander of the armed forces and could not attack it even if he wanted to, which he denies.

I had a very disturbing short email correspondence with a reporter of a major national newspaper who used the inaccurate "wiped off the face of the map" quote. When challenged, he said it was "carried by the news wires and is well known" or words to that effect. I pointed out that the "quote" was attributed to a specific speech and that the statement was inaccurately translated. When challenged further he alleged that his trusted translator in Tehran affirmed that Ahmadinejad had said the phrase. When that was challenged, he reported that the translator said that anyway he had said something like it. When I pointed out that the translator was either lying or lazy, the reporter took offense that I had insulted a trusted colleague! I conclude that this reporter is attached to the phrase. He complained about being challenged by "bloggers" and said he was tempted to stop reading "blogs."

So this is how we got mire in the Iraq morass. Gullible and frankly lazy and very possibly highly biased reporters on the staffs of the newspapers in Washington DC and New York. And they criticize bloggers.

On how Iran is not actually any sort of military threat to Israel, see the op-ed at the Star Ledger by Thomas Lippman and myself. Lippman is a veteran Washington Post correspondent who covered the Iraq War.

Antonia Zerbisias has more on the Benador connections of this story. Same agency as got up the Iraq War.

----
*Thanks to readers who corrected this assertion. See comments for more.

posted by Juan @ 5/20/2006 12:30:00 PM   

§Doostdar on Iranian Dress Code
by juan cole (reposted) Sunday May 21st, 2006 1:03 PM
Alireza Doostdar writes:



'Thank you for debunking the lies about Iran requiring religious minorities to be “color-coded.” I just wanted to make a small comment about the actual national dress law being debated in parliament, which is supposed to regulate fashion. True, the law is in large part motivated by the “un-Islamic” slipping of headscarves and tightening of manteaus on the streets, but there is also a large element of cultural nationalism at work here, which might be comparable to Gandhi’s national dress plans. The law calls for slapping tariffs on imports of clothing from abroad to give indigenous producers competitive advantage, and banning imports of “second-hand clothes” from neighboring countries. It also calls for supporting Iranian designers and producers who come up with innovative “modern” forms of dress based on Islamic and Iranian materials and motifs. They want to encourage designers to go out and study ethnic dress styles for example to come up with more “authentic” modern styles for urban people (by which they mean, I believe, primarily women).

All this could be critiqued on many levels, but it is important I think to place it on a nationalistic plane rather than merely on one of religious zealotry. I see many parallels between this move and the U.S. Senate’s decision to make English the official language of the U.S. They’re both based on strong ideas of some sort of “national” culture--which they believe is being diluted by outside influences (in the US case, Mexican immigrants; in the Iranian, Western fashions of dress).

The other thing I wanted to point out was that Ahmadinejad himself, often to the chagrin of people in his own party and other right-wing groups, has been an outspoken critic of moves to regulate hijab, including the recent police moves to station policewomen in Tehran to instruct women with “bad” hijab to fix their scarves. Both before and after his election, he has said repeatedly that he thinks it is misguided to point at women whenever the issue of “corruption” comes up, and additionally that hijab is no where nearly as important an issue in this country as economic corruption and social injustice (I have both video and text references if you’re interested). I am very critical of Ahmadinejad on many issues, but his stance on hijab and regulating dress is not one of them. '

posted by Juan @ 5/21/2006 06:03:00 AM

http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/doostdar-on-iranian-dress-code-alireza.html