No distinctive attire for non-Muslims

Expert says reports that Iran was drafting such a law are "totally false."

Iranian rally women  (photo credit: AP)
Iranian rally women
(photo credit: AP)
Iran expert Menashe Amir on Sunday traced incorrect reports about a proposed Iranian uniform law to earlier debate on the measure. According to erroneous articles - "totally false" in the words of Amir - Iran was preparing to require Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians to wear colored ribbons on their clothing to distinguish them from Muslims.
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Though the current version of the law only lays down loose guidelines for a national uniform, it was proposed under former president Muhammad Khatami two years ago and has been the subject of much discussion. Amir explained that one question that arose had been what would be done for non-Muslims, and in that context the possibility of distinctive dress for Jews could have been proffered. "There were some rumors ages ago, but nothing serious," said Amir, the long-time director of Israel Radio's Farsi service. In the current case, according to Tel Aviv-based Iran analyst Meir Javedanfar, "There is nothing in the law that addresses minorities." He said he had a copy of the current legislation, which still needs approval by Iranian Islamic authorities, and that the purpose was primarily to create an "indigenous fashion industry" in Iran. He noted that there were no specific details of what the new clothing would look like, and that it would not replace other options for more secular dress. "This is first and foremost a commercial law aimed at rejuvenating Iranian fashion. It's basically putting the 'Made in Iran' sign on Iranian fashion," he said. Javedanfar added that the only section of the bill that carried the threat of criminal punishment was that pertaining to the sale of illegally imported clothing. Amir said that in any case a law limiting what Iranians could wear would never be enforced. He pointed to the proliferation of satellite dishes and camcorders in Iran despite their being outlawed. Whereas once women were jailed for dressing inappropriately, Amir added, now they are only asked by police to dress differently. "The regime in Iran is very weak today, and they are afraid that such enforcement might cause an uprising against the regime," he said. Amir also stressed that international pressure had greatly increased the rights accorded to minorities, making the idea of segregated clothing unthinkable. "However, [President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] has such a bad profile in the world that the international community is ready to believe nonsense and untrue reports like that," he said. Javedanfar said he didn't blame the international Jewish community for rushing to condemn the Islamic Republic for something it hadn't done. "The Western world, especially Jewish organizations, are so mad at Ahmadinejad" for his Holocaust denial and anti-Israel statements, Javedanfar said, "that they want to give him a taste of his own medicine." He added, though, that the criticism of Ahmadinejad - particularly from Israel - for false reports "didn't help" in international efforts to paint Iran as a rogue state. "Ahmadinejad lives off these kinds of attacks from Israel," he said. In terms of Ahmadinejad's desire to be seen as the leader of the Islamic world, "it helps his image to be seen working up the Israelis."