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 Reports on dress code for Iranianminorities disputed by Tehran...

May 22, 2006: Iranian lawmakers and regimeofficials sought to allay suspicions concerning a proposed new dresscode law, dismissing a report that the bill sought special outfitsfor religious minorities, Reuters reported on Sunday. The Reutersaccount does not say the earlier reports were false, as some haveclaimed; it says that the bill sought to legislate "Islamic" dress.Clearly, the firestorm over the proposed bill, initially debated twoyears ago but revived recently, is not over.

Here is the complete Reuters dispatch from Sunday,May 21, and a report from Gareth Smyth in Tehran in the FinancialTimes.

Irandress code law does not target minorities -MPs
By ParinooshArami
Sun May 21, 2006 7:09 PM IST

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's newdress code bill is aimed at encouraging designers to work onimaginative Islamic clothing, lawmakers said on Sunday, dismissing areport that the bill sought special outfits for religiousminorities.
Canada's National Post on Friday reported the draft bill approvedlast week would force Jews, Christians and other religious minoritiessuch as Zoroastrians to wear colour-coded clothes to distinguish themfrom Muslims.

A copy of the bill obtained by Reuterscontained no such references. Reuters correspondents who followed thedress code session in parliament as it was broadcast on state radioheard no discussion of proscriptions for religious minorities.

Senior parliamentarian Mohsen Yahyavidescribed the Canadian report as "completely false".

"The bill aims to support thosedesigners that produce clothes that are more compatible with Islam,but there will be no ban on the wearing of other designs," he toldReuters.

Iran's Jewish MP Moris Motamedalso agreed the bill made no attempt to force special garments on theminorities.
"There is no single word in thebill about a special design or colour for the religious minoritygroups," he said.

"Our enemies seek to createtension among the religious minorities with such news and to exploitthe situation to their benefit," he added.

The parliamentary bill follows a call fromSupreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said two years ago Iraniansshould design a national costume and not take their lead from Westernfashion magazines.

The bill has only been approved as an outline.The details must be agreed then sent to the Guardian Council, Iran'sconstitutional watchdog, for approval.

Iran has strict Islamic dress codesunder which women must cover their hair and hide the shape of theirbodies with loose-fitting clothes. Police and Islamic basij militiasintermittently clamp down on women who flout the rules.

Religious minorities are largelytolerated in Iran, have freedom of worship and some exemptions fromthe Islamic Republic's strict rules in the private spaces of theirown communities.

There are, however, certainmilitary and medical jobs they are barred from and there areoccasional scares for the 25,000-member Jewish community which hasexpressed its fears about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial ofthe Holocaust.



Irandenies 'mischievous' allegations onJews
Gareth Smyth in Tehran
Financial Times
Published: May 21 2006 20:26 | Last updated: May 21 2006 20:26

Iranian officials and politicianshave strongly condemned a Canadian newspaper report alleging thatIran had passed a law requiring Jews to wear yellow badges on theirclothes.

The story also claimed Christiansand Zoroastrians, the two other main religious minorities in mainlyMuslim Iran, would have to wear badges identifying themselves.

"When I heard this, I immediatelyfelt it was a mischievous act, a fresh means of pressure against theIranian government," Maurice Motammed, the Jews' deputy in theIranian parliament, told the FT on Sunday. "We representatives forreligious minorities are active in the parliament, and there hasnever been any mention of such a thing."

The story, published in Canada'sNational Post on Friday, was also reported by the UPI news agency andwidely posted on websites.

It led Chuck Schumer, a USsenator to issue a news release calling the Iranian regime "lunatic"and "pernicious". At a White House press briefing, spokesman SeanMcCormack said such a measure would be "despicable" and "carry clearechoes of Germany under Hitler".

Chris Wattie, the reporter,sourced his story only to Jewish groups and "Iranian exiles". Hequoted Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in LosAngeles, saying the move was "reminiscent of the holocaust" and thatIran was "moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis".

The Post story was drawn from acolumn in the paper by Amir Taheri, editor of the state-owned Kayhannewspaper under the Shah of Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.Mr Taheri claimed the law was "drafted two years ago" and had beenrevived "under pressure" from President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.

"The new codes would enableMuslims to easily recognise non-Muslims so that they can avoidshaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis(unclean)," Mr Taheri wrote.

A contributor to variousnewspapers including the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal andAl-Sharq Al-Awsat, a leading Arabic-language newspaper, Mr Taheri isan opponent of talks between the US and Iran.

He wrote in the New York Postlast month the US should "go for regime change in Tehran" as the onlyway to stop Iran's drive to "dominate the region and use it as thenucleus of an Islamic superpower which would then seek globaldomination".

In Tehran, Hamid-Reza Asefi, theforeign ministry spokesmen, said "a Zionist operation" was "active indifferent countries, including Canada, to foment psychological warand spread lies" about Iran.

"It's being done now because ofthe nuclear issue to give a negative image of the Islamic Republic,"he added.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is Executive Director of the Foundation forDemocracy in Iran.