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Monday, May 22, 2006

PR Opportunity (Oh, to do the Right Thing too) 

In the last several days, it has been reported that Iran may be in the midst of reviving a reasonably grotesque piece of legislation aimed at publically and visibly identifying Christians and Jews as non-Muslims (h/t Powerline). This, of course, revives a pre-Pahlavi reign tradition of Persian Shiite Muslim extremism and reminds those Westerners among us of Nazi behavior. Ahmadinejad apparently thinks this will make it easier for the 12th Imam to identify the good guys and the bad guys on his return.

So, in addition to making the obvious observations about the Iranian Presidency's dangerous and appalling lunacy, why don't the civilized nations of the world (hint hint) offer the whole lot of them political asylum and an airlift to start anew in a place that will offer them respect, freedom and opportunity? Iran's theocracy has no use for them, but certainly Israel would benefit from another 10,000 - 20,000 Iranian Jews entering their fold.

UPDATE, May 23rd, 2006, 8:50am: A couple of commenters aggressively retorted to my post above by claiming that the report was categorically untrue, and alleged that my post was simply war-mongering. Amir Taheri, a conservative columnist who is regularly published in the New York Post, is of Iranian descent, has excellent sources in Iran and was the original source of this bit of news. In light of the apparent controversy, Taheri posted again on the subject here.

It seems reasonably likely that the Iranian Parliament, such as it is, has had the bill under consideration since 2004 and has passed it. It is now in the Council of Guardians for them to consider implementation.

The point of my post, by the way, which was to ask the question should we offer refuge to the discriminated, marked minorities of Iran stands. It is unquestionable, I think, that non-Muslims in Iran are in fact marked people. That certain commenters felt compelled to accuse me of war mongering on the issue speaks simply to the fact that they're not reading carefully or thoroughly - a stereotypical "knee jerk" reaction certainly amongst that crowd. I did not suggest we make war with Iran over this, though I certainly do offer it as additional evidence of the disgusting nature of the Iranian theocracy. I merely suggested we offer those discriminated against refuge, a humanitarian offer.

My observation therefore to my friendly commenters: do a little remedial reading.

Update 2, May 23, 2006, 1:30pm -- my my, certain commenters have lost their manners and call me a liar. Above, I linked to Amir Taheri's response to claims that his original representation about the Iranian dhimmitude marker law was false. He stands by his original story, linked to here. Notwithstanding the claims of a retraction, the original National Post story authored by Taheri is still on their web site.

I will acknowledge that I don't have the primary evidence, or access to it, nor do I read Farsi. Having said that, Taheri is a nationally recognized columnist who follows Middle East Affairs and is regularly published in the US and around the world. He is of Iranian descent, and claims to have sourced his column from 3 members of the Iranian Maijlis. Notwithstanding the controversy aroused by his story and the surprisingly violent and defensive reaction of some folks, he has authored a subsequent piece standing by his prior column.

I view Taheri's representations as credible. I think linking to them here is not akin to a lie, or misrepresentation, as I have been accused. Furthermore, the current President of Iran has made a series of public declamations regarding Jews and Israel, rendering the Taheri claim incrementally more credible. Might it be proven inaccurate? Yes. Might the Council of Guardians elect to modify, amend of terminate the law in order to render it less offensive? I suppose they may, if I understand Taheri's representation.

Having said all of that, the notion that the Iranian government seeks to diminish the standing of non-Muslims (or elevate the status of Muslims) via their dress within Iran is a credible claim that cries out for humanitarian action. Again, my commenters have resorted to the rudest and inaccurate representations about this post -- it is expressly not advocating a war footing. Nor does this claim, with linked sources and response, constitute a "lie." The specific claim by Taheri has been questioned -- but not definitively refuted -- and he nonethless stands by the claim. The notion that an appointed Jewish representative in the Maijlis is trotted out to vindicate the Muslim theocracy seems akin to the hostage who defends their captor. It's interesting, and it may be meaningful, but then it maybe coerced. We do know, that the Iranian mullahcracy imprisoned 13 Jews, including a rabbi, for engaging in espionage for Israel. We do know that something like 80% of Iran's pre-Revolution Jewish population has elected to leave Iran, suggesting that most Jews did not view the post revolutionary regime as hospitable to Jews.

So I ask again -- should we not make a humanitarian offer to Iranian non-Muslims? And why does Iranian theocracy's tyranny, its own warmongering, and its clear discrimination against non-Muslims escape the Scrutiny of our exorcised commenters? Why indeed.

Update 3 - May 23rd, 2006, 3pm

Amir Taheri Biography for review

Update 4 - June 1st, 2006 - One commenter persists in requesting for a "retraction" of the above story and commentary. He submits that Taheri's claim is a "lie." He accuses me therefore of "lying." I do not agree, but you should feel free to decide for yourself.

Amir Taheri stands by his story. The Canadian National Post reportedly has withdrawn its story, though it is still cached on their web site. Nonetheless, let's take it at face value that the National Post has retracted. The New York Post ran a series of 3 stories May 19th to May 21st, which they have not retracted, on the same subject.

The difference of opinion seems to rest in the interpretation of the law, passed by the Iranian Parliament, over some form of cultural dress code. Taheri's claim was that insofar as a Muslim dress code was promulgated, a non muslim dress code would also result, which may "mark" Jews and Christians. Taheri acknowledged that the details of the law's implementation were not yet decided. The story is obviously controversial, but perhaps unduly so. There does not appear to be any question -- at least not so raised -- that the Iranian Parliament intends a religious dress code. The implications of a religious dress code should be clear to all -- it is repressive, repugnant, tyrannical. The commenter is incensed at the implication that the law will mark non-muslims, and refers to this claim as a lie. Quite simply, I don't agree. It may be an incorrect interpretation, but it is hardly a lie. For instance, the law may impose muslim dress on everybody, non-Muslims inclusive. I doubt most reasonable people in the US would view this as good law, religiously tolerant or supportive of liberty. Nonetheless, I think we all would agree that a religious dress code passed by our Congress would be viewed by nearly 100% of our country as appalling.

So, as with Taheri, I stand by the original story. I don't agree with the one tenacious commenter who seems committed to a perspective that suggests this law is either benign or non-existent.

You decide.

18 Comments:

By Blogger Shochu John, at Mon May 22, 09:18:00 PM:

Because the story is not true. Come on, CP, you don't want to go around spreading falsehoods, now do you? Even Roger Simon beat you by three full days in calling BS on this one: http://www.rogerlsimon.com/mt-archives/2006/05/its_been_said_b.php  

By Anonymous David Gale, at Tue May 23, 04:48:00 AM:

You got fooled:

Iranian Law Would Encourage Islamic Dress:
"A draft law moving through parliament encourages Iranians to wear Islamic clothing to protect the country's Muslim identity but does not mention special attire for religious minorities, according to a copy obtained Saturday by The Associated Press."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-5834570,00.html

The Seattle Times:
""The bill is not related to minorities. It is only about clothing," Afroogh said. "Please tell them [in the West] to check the details of the bill. There is no mention of religious minorities and their clothing in the bill."
Iranian Jewish legislator Morris Motamed confirmed Afroogh's account. "Such a plan has never been proposed or discussed in parliament," he said. "Such news, which appeared abroad, is an insult to religious minorities here.""
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003007166_irandress20.html

Why don't have some outrage against the Saudi textbooks, who still preach hatred against Jews and Christians. Even after "major reforms"?
The Wash Post has a major article about it. In first grade Saudi kids learn: "Every religion other than Islam is false."

And in eighth grade: "As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/19/AR2006051901769_pf.html

The Iranians are demonized, while the Saudis are your best friends.
You are so addicted to oil! You sacrifice moral values and national security interests. We in Europe are not much better. More in my blog post:
http://atlanticreview.org/archives/153-The-US-Saudi-relationship-Oil-supply-at-the-expense-of-US-security-and-moral-values.html  

By Blogger Uptown Ruler, at Tue May 23, 07:14:00 AM:

this is obviously propaganda of the first rate.

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33322

put it out in a small paper, picked up by major papers, then politicians decry it like its the real thing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Iranian_sumptuary_law_controversy

just more of the hitler comparison to psych up the american people for the coming bombing campaign before november elections.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue May 23, 09:35:00 AM:

Now you're just willfully lying, CardinalPark.

Tigerhawk, can you do something about this guy?

This story is not true. No amount of lying will make it true. However, repeating the lying often enough may leave a few with the notion that it's true. That's how we get people mad at the Iranians, eh Park?

Contemptible.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue May 23, 09:36:00 AM:

Contemptible.

I'm shocked you put it here.

Tigerhawk's become a fiction blog for warmongering liar, CardinalPark.

Abhorrent.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue May 23, 09:47:00 AM:

On May 19, 2006, the National Post of Canada published pieces by Amir Taheri and Chris Wattie claiming that the Iranian parliament had passed a sumptuary law mandating a national dress code for all Iranians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Both National Post articles went on to say that non-Muslim religious minorities in Iran would be required to wear "special insignia": yellow for Jews, red for Christians and blue for Zoroastrian. According to the article by Taheri, "[t]he new codes would enable Muslims to easily recognize non-Muslims so that they can avoid shaking hands with them by mistake, and thus becoming najis (unclean)."[1] According to both articles, Iranian Muslims would have to wear "standard Islamic garments".

Numerous other sources, including Maurice Motamed, the Jewish member of the Iranian parliament and the Iranian Embassy in Canada, refuted the report as untrue. The National Post later retracted Wattie's original article ("Iran eyes badges for Jews: Law would require non-Muslim insignia") and published an article, also by Wattie, to the contrary ("Experts say reports of badges for Jews in Iran is untrue"). [2]. Wattie's original article listed only "human rights groups" and "Iranian expatriates living in Canada" as its sources.The Associated Press later refuted the Post report as well, saying that "a draft law moving through parliament encourages Iranians to wear Islamic clothing to protect the country's Muslim identity but does not mention special attire for religious minorities, according to a copy obtained Saturday by The Associated Press." [3] Reuters also reported that "A copy of the bill obtained by Reuters contained no such references. Reuters correspondents who followed the dress code session in parliament as it was broadcast on state radio heard no discussion of proscriptions for religious minorities."[4] Amir Taheri made a statement on May 22 saying the National Post story he authored was used by "a number of reports that somehow jumped the gun" and that he stands by the article. Amir states he raised the issue "not as a news story" but rather "as an opinion column"  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Tue May 23, 10:46:00 AM:

I'll second Dave's comment. Gratuitous reminder: 16/19 of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudi.

I smell "Mobile WMD trailers".  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Tue May 23, 01:20:00 PM:

CP, oh, come now. The MP that represents the Iranian Jewish community, Maurice Motamed has said, "This report is a complete fabrication and is totally false...It is a lie, and the people who invented it wanted to make political gain."

If it were actually true, wouldn't the Iranian Jewish community be asking for help, perhaps even the refuge you propose? Instead, they are denying it is occuring in the strongest possible terms.

CP, Here's a hint for you. Exiles with agendas are NOT credible sources.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue May 23, 02:23:00 PM:

Shochu -

On the surface, your logic about the lack of complaint from Iran's Jews makes sense. But dig a little deeper.

Iran's Jews are not allowed to travel outside the country as a family. If they were free to move, they certainly would have left years ago. If the writing on the wall wasn't apparent before, jailing a 16 year-old as a spy for the "Zionist Entity" a few years ago would have made it more obvious.

Likewise, CardinalPark's idea of airlifting the oppressed out of Iran is wonderful, but can't be done. Israel has been willing to pay ransoms to many tyrannical governments to free their Jews - I'm pretty sure Iran decided it doesn't need the cash.

As far as the original story is concerned, I think the jury is out on its veracity (but this is being debated across the blogosphere). One part of the story would be academic - I believe Zoroastrianism (Iran's religion before Islam) is punishable by death.

Mike  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue May 23, 03:51:00 PM:

Correction: Bahaiism is punishable by death; Zoroastriasts are merely persecuted.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue May 23, 04:07:00 PM:

Shorter CardinalPark: "It doesn't matter who says it's false, I'm going to continue to say it's true."  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Tue May 23, 08:33:00 PM:

Taheri is a former journalistic bigwig of the old order. He works for an organizations which has a lot of neocon types on the roster. To me, this smells like an Ahmad Chalabi redux. Time will tell, but I'm betting that this story will continue to blow apart at the seams, taking Taheri's credibility with it, and yours too, CP, if you're not careful.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue May 23, 08:48:00 PM:

Y'all are like a bunch of god damned vultures. In the OP he didn't agrue for the truth of the statement or offer fictionalized personal accounts; he said "it has been reported," which it had been. Calm down.

Screwie, are you bi-polar or something? Some days you're reasonable and civil, and some days you're a bona fide nut spouting lunatic fringe type rhetoric. i.e. "fiction blog for warmongering liar"  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Tue May 23, 10:03:00 PM:

Dawnfire, it has been reported that on 9.11, the plane alledged to be Flight 175 had missle strapped underneath it, which it fired at the South Tower shortly before impact. If I were to say that and then go on about how we should take better precautions to make sure passenger airliners are never again equipped with missiles, I'd probably be called a lunatic.

The moral of the story is that using "it has been reported" to relay wild tales which one then expands upon does one's credibility no favors.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue May 23, 10:21:00 PM:

It will be interesting to see whether Iran does ratchet up the pressure on Jews. In any case, the population of Jews in Iran has fallen by approximately 90% since the founding of the Islamic Republic, so there is no doubt that they have been sorely oppressed. Certainly such a law is within the ken of Iran's current leadership.

Suppose Tahani is wrong and my esteemed co-blogger is guilty, if that is the word, of relying too much on that source. Why such a strong response from our loyal readers from the Left? Iran's regime is positively revolting. If it has been overaccused in this one situation, surely it has been underaccused in many others. And it isn't as though CardinalPark proposed that we bomb Iran -- he suggested a humanitarian mission. You guys need to adjust the doseage.

Now, I happen to think that CP's idea is a boffo one regardless of the veracity of the underlying story. Iran accuses us of liking Jews too much. Well, I say run with it. Israel can't deal with Iran, but how would the world react if the United States offered visas -- available through, say, the German embassy -- to any Iranian Jew? There are only 10,000 of them left, American Jews would take care of them, and we would have a supply of Farsi speakers with current knowledge of the country. I can imagine how that would come in useful.

If Iran refused to let them go, it would be a huge propaganda defeat for the regime. So whether or not Iran is going to mark its Jews, I think we should step up to the offer.  

By Blogger Uptown Ruler, at Wed May 24, 06:50:00 AM:

my problem is not the offer, its using an obviously false, debunked piece of propaganda as a intro to the offer.

the offer itself is not a problem, there are more armenians living in the us than in armenia, and for a long time more irish; we have certainly played the role of safe haven for many peoples.

however...

why aren't we offering VISAS to the darfur christians then? or the northern iraq/turkey kurds? or the countless oppressed peoples throughout the world? how about saudi women?

as for the strong response...seeing more pro-war propaganda makes me angry, we watched it happen with the runup to the iraq war, and despite the debunking of a great deal of that propaganda, we were propelled into the conflict.

now we are seeing it again...  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed May 24, 01:02:00 PM:

But Uptown, even if we were to agree on Iraq, it is Iran that is pushing this conflict. We have repeatedly backed away and let the Europeans take the lead, notwithstanding repeated baiting from Ahmadinejad. I just don't see it.

As for those other reasons, I can think of two reasons why we would prefer to let in Iranian Jews than some of those other refugees you suggest. First, it would have geopolitical value -- I may work myself up to write a post on that subject. Second, with the possible exception of the Palestinian Arabs, nobody ever suffered from Jewish immigration. Ten thousand Iranian Jews would be a strategic and economic asset of the first order.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Wed May 24, 02:36:00 PM:

Dawnfire,

If CardinalPark is going to push a fiction as a fact, then he's lying. He can obfuscate and hedge all he likes, but facts are facts.

Also, I think it's safe to say that CardinalPark is a militarist.

Warmonger is a colorful term I use for people who prefer or appear to prefer military solutions and for those who serve as apologists for unnecessary wars of choice.

If CardinalPark continues to push fiction, then he's a fiction writer. If he tries to pass a fiction off as a fact, then he's a liar.

Nothing upsets me more than a liar.  

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