Saturday, May 20, 2006

Iranian Dress Code Hoax

Yesterday, on Friday, May 19, 2006, Canada's National Post made headlines around the world after publishing an article based on allegations by Iranian exiles according to which religious minorities, including Jews, would be forced to wear identifying coloured patches. The reports were backed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and by other exiles. I was sceptical about the news right away, because it seemed to be based only on one source (an Iranian exile). But, I have to say that reports that the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa had initially refused to comment on the issue, rather than clarifying it, made me suspicious. After all, Mahmoud Ahmadin-e-jad has surprised us time and again with weird pronouncements on the Holocaust and with unbridled threats against Israel. Unfortunately, our own Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper, prematurely joined the chorus condemning Iran for this specific measure. Within a few hours, all of my suspicions of the reports were vindicated. Ironically, it was an Israeli Iran expert who was one of the first observers to dismiss the reports. His remarks were published in Ha'aretz and later in an article published by the National Post's online edition.

"Iranian embassy denies dress code"

Chris Wattie; with files from Allan Woods, National Post, with files from CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, May 20, 2006


Meir Javdanfar, an Israeli expert on Iran and the Middle East who was born and raised in Tehran, said yesterday that he was unable to find any evidence that such a law had been passed.

"None of my sources in Iran have heard of this," he said. "I don't know where this comes from."

Mr. Javdanfar said that not all clauses of the law had been passed through the parliament and said the requirement that Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians wear special insignia might be part of an older version of the Islamic dress law, which was first written two years ago.

"In any case, there is no way that they could have forced Iranian Jews to wear this," he added. "The Iranian people would never stand for it." However, Mr. Kermanian added that Jews in Iran still face widespread, systematic discrimination.
One thing that bothered me in the original National Post article (no longer online) was that it was accompanied by a colour photograph of a young child with a yellow Nazi-era patch:

The picture published in the National Post

The caption didn't reveal the provenance of the picture, but it was obviously not historical. If they had published a photograph of Jews wearing the patch during the Third Reich, that would have been acceptable. But to publish a child "re-constructing" or "re-enacting" tragedy without running a caption - as if to imply that this was an Iranian Jew - is ridiculous. It only harms and trivializes the memory of the Holocaust. The picture reminded me of those painful newscasts showing settler kids evacuated from Gush Qatif whose parents put yellow Magen David patches on them.


Amos said...

That picture is indeed disturbing. I wonder if we can determine its provenance somehow.

Carmia said...

I'm pretty sure it's from Gush Katif.