- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

Reports of Iranian plans to force Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear color-coded badges in public sparked a flurry of outrage in the Bush administration and elsewhere yesterday, despite an emphatic denial by the only Jewish member of Iran’s parliament.

Canada’s National Post newspaper reported in yesterday’s editions that a law passed Iran’s parliament earlier this week that would require Jews to wear a yellow strip of cloth, Christians red and Zoroastrians blue.

Iran’s only Jewish member of parliament, Maurice Motammed, denied the report late yesterday, calling it a “complete fabrication” and “totally false,” according to a dispatch by Agence France-Press from Tehran.

By then, however, Iranian exiles had “confirmed” the report, and the U.S. government and world leaders had condemned Iran, some comparing the purported measure to Nazi laws that required Jews to wear Star of David insignia during the Holocaust.

Mr. Motammed said he had been present in parliament when a bill to promote “an Iranian and Islamic style of dress for women” was voted on. “In the law, there is no mention of religious minorities,” he said.

“This is an insult to the Iranian people and to religious minorities in Iran,” he told Agence France-Presse.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the idea behind the legislation was “despicable,” but added U.S. officials did not have a clear idea yet of what was in the bill.

He said reports of the measure had been circulating for months as it worked its way through Iran’s legislature.

“I’m not going to try to delve too deeply into giving a definitive comment about something on which I don’t have all the facts,” Mr. McCormack said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the legislation proved that Iran’s Islamic regime “does not belong among civilized governments.”

“Just at the time when you think the Iranian regime can’t be more lunatic or pernicious, they outdo themselves,” said Mr. Schumer.

“This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles. “Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.”

“There’s no reason to believe they won’t pass this,” Rabbi Hier told the National Post. “It will certainly pass unless there’s some sort of international outcry over this.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: “Unfortunately, we’ve seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action.

“The fact that such a measure could even be contemplated is absolutely abhorrent,” he said.

Such a law was drafted two years ago under then-President Mohammad Khatami but was blocked in parliament. Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently revived the measure.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has deemed the Holocaust to be a myth and has publicly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

David R. Sands contributed to this report.

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