Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I STAND BY MY COLUMN

By Amir Taheri
New York Post
May 23, 2006

EDITORS' NOTE: The Associated Press and others have challenged Amir Taheri's account (published in The Post on Saturday) of the proposed new Iranian dress code, noting that the law does not specify badges for religious minorities. Below is his reply.

REGARDING the Iran dress code story, it seems that some media outlets used my column as the basis for reports that jumped the gun.

As far as my article is concerned, I stand by it.

The law has been passed by the Islamic Majlis and will now be submitted to the Council of Guardians. A committee has been appointed to work out the modalities of implementation.

Many ideas are being discussed with regard to implementation of the dress code - including special markers, known as zonnars, for followers of Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the only faiths other than Islam that the Iranian regime recognizes as such. The zonnar was in use throughout the Muslim world until the early 20th century and marked out the dhimmis, or protected religious minorities. (In Iran, it was formally abolished in 1908).

I have been informed of the ideas under discussion thanks to my sources in Tehran, including three members of the Majlis who had worked to block the bill since it was first drafted in 2004.

I do not know which of these ideas, if any, will be eventually adopted. We will know once the committee appointed to discuss them presents its report, perhaps in September.

Interestingly, the Islamic Republic's authorities refuse to issue an official statement categorically rejecting the concept of dhimmitude and the need for marking out religious minorities.

I raised the issue not as a news story, because news of the new law was already several days old, but as an opinion column to alert the outside world to this most disturbing development.

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