Respectful Insolence

Color coding by religion in Iran?

I’ve written a lot before about the current President of Iran and his anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, as well as the religious fanaticism of the regime he leads. Here’s more evidence of where theocracy can lead:

While the Iranian economy appears to be heading for recession, one sector may have some reason for optimism. That sector is the garment industry and the reason for hopefulness is a law passed by the Islamic Majlis (parliament) on Monday.

The law mandates the government to make sure that all Iranians wear “standard Islamic garments” designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions reflected in clothing, and to eliminate “the influence of the infidel” on the way Iranians, especially, the young dress. It also envisages separate dress codes for religious minorities, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public. The 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).

The new law, drafted during the presidency of Muhammad Khatami in 2004, had been blocked within the Majlis. That blockage, however, has been removed under pressure from Khatami’s successor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The new law replaces the one passed in 1982 dealing with women’s clothes. That law imposed the hijab and focused on the need to force women to cover their hair in public. The emphasis on the hijab was based on the belief that women’s hair emanates an “evil ray” that drives men “into lustful irrationality” and thus causes harm to Islam. The new law cannot come into effect until consensus is reached on what constitutes “authentic Islamic attire.”


When a reader sent this story to me, at first I was very skeptical about it, because I only saw it on one news agency, and a seemingly questionable one at that, but now the UPI has picked it up and is running the story:

WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) — Iran’s parliament passed a new law this week that would force the country’s Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear color-coded ID badges to designate them as non-Muslims in a move that heralds broader faith-based persecution.

Iranian expatriates confirmed reports the Iranian parliament, or majlis, has approved a law that would require the roughly 25,000 Jews living in the Islamic Republic to attach a yellow strip of cloth to their clothing; Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would wear blue ones.

The law further mandates that non-Muslims adhere to a dress code under which they wear “standard Islamic garments” that remove ethnic and class distinctions, the Canadian National Post reported Friday. The purpose would be to prevent Muslims from shaking the hands of “unclean” non-Muslims in public.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and highest authority, must approve the law for it to take effect. If ratified, it could take effect as early as next year.

Great. If this is true, the Iranians have apparently decided to combine the worst of two totalitarian dress codes: an individuality-crushing uniformity in dress as seen in China during Mao’s reign ( with drab-colored “standard Islamic garments” substituted for the famous “Mao jacket“) and a badge to allow the quick identification of Jews at a glance seen during the Nazi regime.

I’m still fairly skeptical, though. As Allah Pundit mentions, the original story only stated that Iran wanted to impose an “Islamic dress code,” without mentioning anything about religious minorities. He wonders if the Post‘s sources were guessing what might happen based on the history of Persia:

The battle of Nehavend in 642 A.D. and the defeat of the Sassanid by Arab-Muslims ended the independence of Persia after nearly 12 centuries and it became a part of the Arab-Islamic entity. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs of Damascus and Baghdad controlled Persia. Arabic words infiltrated the Persian language, and Islam replaced Zorastrianism as the state religion.

These changes had a profound impact on the many religious minorities within Persia. Through a covenant of Omar (a Sunni Muslim leader), non-Muslims were deprived of social and political equality, and became, in effect, second-class citizens. Jews were made to wear a yellow ribbon on their arms and Christians a blue ribbon to distinguish them from Muslims.

Professor Amnon Netzer of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem told RFE/RL that the yellow patch as a distinctive mark for Iranian Jews reappeared a number of times through Iranian history, most recently at the beginning of the 20th century.

Also, the story seems to have originated from Iranian exiles, a group that is very much opposed to the current government, and a Jewish MP in Iran has explicitly denied that badges for Jews were part of the plan for an Islamic dress code. Even the Anti-Defamation League is hedging its bets.

Even so, given the religious fanaticism of the regime, I wouldn’t put it past Iran to try something like forcing Jews and other religious minorities to wear a badge or some other clothing that identifies them as non-Muslim (i.e., infidels). I simply await more evidence, because the story still sounds moe than a bit fishy to me.

No doubt President Ahmadinejad probably wonders at why Jews are raising such a fuss over this proposed religion-based dress code or stories (whether confirmed or not) of yellow badges for Jews. After all, he believes that the Holocaust is a myth. No doubt he thinks the uproar is just a case of Jews trying to make him look bad using comparisons to what to him is a fictitious historical event.

Even if the part about the yellow badge for Jews turns out to be completely untrue, the passage of a law mandating an Islamic dress code is bad enough. This whole incident simply shows the madness to which theocracy leads, to the hair-splitting and strange perversions of logic that lead to arguments over the minutiae of what constitutes “Muslim dress.” For example:

Although the final shape of the uniforms is yet to be established, there is consensus on a number of points. The idea of adopting an Arab-style robe (known as dishdash) for men has been rejected along with a proposal that men wear a form of turban.

“Iranians have always worn trousers,” says Mostafa Pourhardani, Minister of Islamic Orientation. “Even when the ancient Greeks wore woman-style dresses with skirts, the Persians had trousers. We are not going to force Iranian men to do away with trousers although they predate Islam.”
What men will wear on top is not clear yet.

Some Islamic experts want a kind of long, almost European-style, jacket known as “sardari” and used in Iran for centuries. Others propose only a waistcoat.

On colour schemes, however, there seems to be consensus.

Islamic legislators are unanimous that Islam is incompatible with “gay, wild, provocative colours” such as red, yellow, and light blue, which are supposed to be favoured by Satan. The colours to be imposed by law are expected to be black, brown, dark blue and dark grey.

Some Majlis members have been trying to lift the ban on green, which is, after all, the colour of the Bani Hashem, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, and thus regarded as the colour of Islam. The majority view, however, is that green is not “serious enough” to underline the gravity of a Muslim man’s position.

And:

During the committee debates on the new law, some Majlis members tried to include articles determining the shape and size of men’s beards and mustaches and impose an Islamic standard for male facial hair. But it was agreed that the issue be tackled in another bill to be presented to the Majlis next year.

This sounds a bit more believable, that the legislators would be arguing over what constitutes “Islamic clothing, “Islamic colors,” and proper “Islamic” facial hair. In reality, as in all totalitarian regimes, it’s all about control and conformity:

One aim of the new law is to impose a total ban on imports of clothes and dress designs from the West. The Majlis hopes that all jeans will disappear from the Iranian scene within five years. The boutiques selling haute couture Western gear for men and women will also be closed over the next few years. A total ban on designer items, marked by logos, will come into force by the end of the year.

“There is no sense in a Muslim man or woman wearing something that is, in fact, an advertisement for an infidel designer or clothing merchant,” says Pourharandi.

Another aim of the new law is to abolish the chador, the overall piece of cloth that Iranian women have tucked themselves in for centuries. The reason is that the chador existed before the Khomeinist revolution and thus cannot be regarded as “properly Islamic.” Women must wear clothes that would, in fact, transform them into advertising billboards for the regime’s ideology.

Even if this law doesn’t mandate different badges for minority religions, it would in effect have close to the same effect. If non-Muslims aren’t required to wear the uniform, they become very easily and instantly identifiable as not Muslim, unless they decide to wear it to blend in. If they do that or if they are required to wear the uniform by law, the effect becomes one of making non-Muslims conform to Muslim edicts, becoming in effect yet another tool for putting those pesky “infidels” in their place.

ADDENDUM: The Post has in essence retracted the part about religious minorities having to wear identifiying badges. It looks like that part was rumor or intentional disinformation.

Comments

  1. #1 Roman Werpachowski
    May 20, 2006

    If this act passes, I will support any initiative for the regime change in Iran. It has to be done not only before they build nuclear bombs, but also before they build the gas chambers.

    Welcome back to 1933.

  2. #2 Thomas Palm
    May 20, 2006

    Even National Post have admitted their story is almost certainly bogus:
    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=6626a0fa-99de-4f1e-aebe-bb91af82abb3
    Only Simon Wiesenthal Centre still seems to believe in it, suggesting there is a law but it is being kept secret. (Even from members of the parliament?)

    Taheri is completely unreliable, and that he can get published just show to me the extent of the smear campaign against Iran.

    It’s the same with some purpoted statements by Ahmadinejad that are taken out of context or mistranslated. He is certainly an odd figure, but not quite as bad as often portrayed. (Besides, he is to a large extent a figurehead anyway).

    Trying to sponsor manufacturers of traditional Iranian clothes may be silly, but is it worse than, for example, French rules protecting their language? Statements like how bad it is is non-muslims might have to wear the same clothes as everyone else to blend in also shows an amount of hypocricy. Try walking around in traditional Arab clothes in a typical Western city and see how you are treated!

  3. #3 Kristjan Wager
    May 20, 2006

    Trying to sponsor manufacturers of traditional Iranian clothes may be silly, but is it worse than, for example, French rules protecting their language?

    You obviously have not understod neither the article nor Orac’s comments.

    This bill is not about sponsoring manufacturerers, but about forcing people to dress in certain ways – ways that are heavily stacked towards oppresion of women.

  4. #4 Roman Werpachowski
    May 20, 2006

    Statements like how bad it is is non-muslims might have to wear the same clothes as everyone else to blend in also shows an amount of hypocricy. Try walking around in traditional Arab clothes in a typical Western city and see how you are treated!

    Yes, you will be punished by law, just like in Iran. Is that what you were saying?

  5. #5 Thomas Palm
    May 20, 2006

    Kristjan, I understood what Orac wrote. However, he based his writing on a quote from Taheri who is just involved in a smear campaign against Iran. If you look at some other source, like the one Orac labels as “the original story” you get a somewhat different impression:
    “According to the new law, economic relief for local clothing designers will be granted so that they can “concentrate on clothing matching the national and Islamic identity of Iran.”

    The idea of a forced uniform seems just as bogus as the one about ethnic dress codes.

    Yes, you will be punished by law, just like in Iran. Is that what you were saying?
    You aren’t punished in Iran, and the statement I commented on was the one where Orac claimed that even if they weren’t forced by law it would be almost as bad. Maybe having to dress in a certain way to be socially accepted is bad, but it certainly wouldn’t be a unique Iranian problem.

  6. #6 Thomas Palm
    May 20, 2006

    You can also read what Juan Cole has to say about the issue. http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/another-fraud-on-iran-no-legislation.html

  7. #7 Orac
    May 20, 2006

    I understood what Orac wrote.

    I’m not so sure that you did. I thought I expressed appropriate skepticism. The very fact that such a ridiculous law mandating or “encouraging” so-called “Islamic garb” is being considered just goes to show what depths of ridiculousness a nation will descend to when it becomes a theocracy. Even if the law is only designed to try to stamp out those uppity middle class women who are into fashion, my point that it’s a matter of control stands.

  8. #8 Prup aka Jim Benton
    May 20, 2006

    Thomas:
    I think that someone should update Rex Stout’s ILLUSTRIOUS DUNDERHEADS — Stout was mostly known for his mystery work, but this book was a collection of comments that had been issued pre-WWII explaining how the Nazis weren’t REALLY a problem. If some such book is released, your statements here deserve a place in it.

    It has nothing to do with ‘socially acceptable.’ The law, if it exists in whatever form — and I doubt the ‘rules on non-Muslims’ too (if only because there is no rule in Islam that prohibits shaking hands with a non-Muslim. The rule — admittedly only for certain Wahabbists — is against shaking hands with a WOMAN.) — doesn’t mean that ‘if you violate it you don’t get to go to the cool parties.’ It means, in the sort of totalitarian religious society that Iran is becoming, that if you violate it you can be fired, jailed, or physically attacked. (Women have been attacked for going around unveiled in less strict societies.) And remember, there are ways you can ignore some rules in private, or among friends — if you can trust your friends — but ‘dress codes’ are for public behaviour. You can’t ignore them outside of your own house, and better hope that you aren’t reported for having illegal clothes inside. The right of privacy is not one that is honored in this sort of society.

    And finally, jus think about the sort of thinking involved in the following:
    “Islamic legislators are unanimous that Islam is incompatible with “gay, wild, provocative colours” such as red, yellow, and light blue, which are supposed to be favoured by Satan. The colours to be imposed BY LAW are expected to be black, brown, dark blue and dark grey.”

  9. #9 Thomas Palm
    May 20, 2006

    Orac, you may have expressed some scepticism, but you quoted the article extensively and to a large extent argued as if it was essentially true. This is dangerous in a climate where people are trying to come up with justifications for a war against Iran. The first comment certainly seemed to take the story seriously.

    I agree that it is bad the way women are treated in Iran. (Oddly enough Ahmadinejad recently tried to allow women to be spectators at sports events only to be overruled by the clerics, so he isn’t quite the reactionary he is often described as). However, need I remind you about the whole affair around Janet Jackson’s nipple slip? Iran isn’t the only country with some strong taboos to clothing. And what shall we say about language laws that seem to become more and more popular?

  10. #10 Ali
    May 20, 2006

    One thing that is important to note: even if Ahmadinejad is as nutty as he seems to be, he has relatively little power in the Iranian system. Juan Cole makes an interesting point:

    This affair is similar to the attribution to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the statement that “Israel must be wiped off the map.” No such idiom exists in Persian, and Ahmadinejad actually just quoted an old speech of Khomeini in which he said “The occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” Of course Ahamdinejad does wish Israel would disappear, but he is not commander of the armed forces and could not attack it even if he wanted to, which he denies.

  11. #11 Dianne
    May 20, 2006

    If this act passes, I will support any initiative for the regime change in Iran. It has to be done not only before they build nuclear bombs, but also before they build the gas chambers.

    Just what the Bush administration is hoping you’ll do and possibly why this rumor, and the part about colored ribbons for different religions does seem to have been just a rumor, was put about.

  12. #12 Kristjan Wager
    May 20, 2006

    You can also read what Juan Cole has to say about the issue. http://www.juancole.com/2006/05/another-fraud-on-iran-no-legislation.html

    Did you notice how Juan Cole was explaining the fact that this law was aimed towards restricting the women’s choice? That was what I was arguing.

  13. #13 Karl
    May 20, 2006

    Orac said:
    “Great. If this is true, the Iranians have apparently decided to combine the worst of two totalitarian dress codes: an individuality-crushing uniformity in dress as seen in”
    ? The United States in most parochial schools and now becoming increasingly popular in many public schools under the mantle of reducing competitive dressing and/or eliminating obvious class distinctions.

  14. #14 Sastra
    May 20, 2006

    “The emphasis on the hijab was based on the belief that women’s hair emanates an “evil ray” that drives men “into lustful irrationality” and thus causes harm to Islam.”

    An “evil ray?” That sounds a bit over the top even for fundamentalist Muslims. In quotes, too — as if it were taken from an official source. Naw, someone made that up.

  15. #15 Ktesibios
    May 20, 2006

    Thank you, Orac. This came up on the Skeptic Friends Network forum. It’s a pleasure to have some factual follow-up to relieve the unpleasant sensation of being torn between knowledge of what vileness religious fanatics can get up to and knowledge of how our modern news media have been the willing conduits of exile-generated crapola to suit the political desires of their owners (as in the “Kuwaiti incubators” and the Times’ parroting of Chalabid claims during the whipping up of the war on Iraq).

    Nowadays too many- perhaps even a majority- of people think that a fact is any claim that conforms to their politico-religious belief system. I think perhaps I ought to turn my technical talents to inventing an automatic grain-of-salt dispenser.

  16. #16 Roman Werpachowski
    May 20, 2006

    ? The United States in most parochial schools and now becoming increasingly popular in many public schools under the mantle of reducing competitive dressing and/or eliminating obvious class distinctions.

    There is a huge difference between dress codes enforced among pupils in schools and them being enforced among everyone walking around in the streets.

  17. #17 TheSquire
    May 20, 2006

    This story has been debunked.

  18. #18 Thomas Palm
    May 20, 2006

    Roman, very few countries don’t have a dress code for walking around in the streets. If you don’t believe me, try walking around naked. Iran go to far, sure, but the situation has improved a lot since the revolution regardless of any temporary setbacks.

    Almost the only thing that can help the clerics increase their power is foreign threats. These are followed by calls for national unity, patriotism and suspicions that people who look like the enemy might also be enemies. In this respect Iran is no different from USA after WTC. If you really want to help Iran get more liberal let them do it on their own, it is not something that can be forced from abroad, especially not by spreading slander.

    Iraq, on the other hand, there you have a country where women’s have lost rights the last couple of years.

  19. #19 The Brummell
    May 20, 2006

    Thomas Palm said: “…try walking around naked”

    If naked is a dress code, then baldness is a hairstyle, not collecting stamps is a hobby and atheism is a religion.

    Thomas, do you understand the distinction between a restriction written in law, and one unwritten and expressed by a fraction of the general population?

  20. #20 Karl
    May 20, 2006

    Boy. I sure hope that Roman gets back to read this. This could be a really interesting topic.
    He said: “There is a huge difference between dress codes enforced among pupils in schools and them being enforced among everyone walking around in the streets.”
    That is certainly true. But I think that it is only a difference of degree, not of kind.
    At this time, we do not have a single, unitary, dress code, but we certainly do have dress codes. Now, one that we previously had, all office workers in suits, has broken down – office casual has become acceptable. But, notice that there is still a code in force even there. And the execs of most companies still adhere to the grey flannel suit image. Now, if we start raising a generation of kids who have grown up with a dress code, how long before they become voters who will insist on instituting one for everyone. Or maybe we will get a set of them, by job level or type – by caste, if you will – as in the Handmaid’s Tale.
    Actually, I am just being frivolous here, but I offer one profession that seems to have a very eccentric dress code considering what the job entails and in comparison with other similar jobs.
    Have you ever noticed that professional baseball managers wear the same uniform as the players, that professional football coaches generally wear slacks and some sort of team colored sport shirt, BUT professional basketball coaches seem to have adopted the dress code of $1000 individually tailored, pin-stripe suits. I guess that they feel the need to show off that they are excessively over-paid, or something. Notice also that they are not required to keep the suit on once the game is over. When they show up at the mandatory press-conference, it is usually in an open-necked sport shirt. What a bizarre situation.

  21. #21 Ian B Gibson
    May 20, 2006

    If this act passes, I will support any initiative for the regime change in Iran. It has to be done not only before they build nuclear bombs, but also before they build the gas chambers.

    Welcome back to 1933.

    Any initiative? It isn’t obvious that bombing Iran will have the effect of moderating either the government or the population.

    I know this sounds implausible, but ‘taking out’ a tyrannical government may even make the situation both in that country and the broader region worse..

    Iranians may have reason to fear further American intervention in their government – it must be remembered that they were originally radicalised by the overthrow of their democratically elected government and the imposition of the Shah’s quarter-century reign.

    The mullahs will only get stronger if we continue to intervene in the Middle East the way we are now – we need a different approach if we are to successfully combat the evils of fundamentalism.

    .

  22. #22 Dianne
    May 20, 2006

    So how does this proposed law, if it exists in any form, compare to the no-headscarfs-in-school law in France or the no-burqas law in the Netherlands? Anyone for invading/bombing either of these countries for forcing conformity to western standards on Islamic people? Interesting too that in each case they are banning women’s clothing.

  23. #23 Renee
    May 20, 2006

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines as Dianne – the ‘no head scarves in school’ law in France, that effectively singles out Muslim women, and which forces them to conform to the ‘secular ideal’ that the French authorities think is so necessary in order to ensure the ‘secular nature’ of the French Republic. And which in effect says that if you want a public education, then this is the price you’re going to pay. As if letting young Muslim women wear head scarves in public schools is a threat to French society. We all know how well France has fared in maintaining good relations with its Muslim population.

    Frankly, I don’t see much difference in the Iranian laws, which regulate the dress of its citizens, and the restrictive French law that regulates the dress of one of its religious minorities. And France is supposed to be an enlightened democracy.

    (BTW, although I use a French moniker, I’m American and Jewish).

  24. #24 Martin Rundkvist
    May 21, 2006

    I recently wrote a piece on head scarves. They’re analogous to bikini tops. Forbid one and you should definitely forbid the other.

  25. #25 Judy
    May 21, 2006

    I can’t help noticing that throughout Orac’s original post and the following comments that “non-muslims” = “people with various non-muslim religions”.

    Granting that the articles that were spread throughout the media turned out to be hoaxes, I still have difficulty with the assumption that ALL people can be identified with a religion. Since many of the folks who drop in here for Orac’s pearls of rant/wisdom have proudly professed themselves to be atheists, haven’t any of you wondered what color or other identifying badge you would be forced to wear in such an environment? Are there no atheists in Iran? Or anywhere else, such as France and America, to name two other countries mentioned in the comments?

  26. #26 Thomas Palm
    May 21, 2006

    Judy, *if* the story were true it would be bad but since it isn’t why should we worry about what signs atheists would have to wear? Fortunately I don’t live in USA where atheists are banned from testifying or holding any public office in some states. (Yeah, I know, it’s not really enfoced, but the laws are there and at some point someone may decide to enforce it). If you want to oppose discrimination of atheists, that’s a good place to start for Americans at least.

    And when we are into rants, one country that does have these kind of ethic codes is Israel where all identity cards are marked with if you are a Jew or one of the other ‘nationalities’. It’s not as blatant as having to show it on your clothes, but it is still a useful base for discrimination in all circumstances where you have to show your ID, which tend to be circumstances that matter.

    Brummell, shaving your head is indeed a hairstyle, and laws about public indecency are written into laws in many countries.

  27. #27 Ktesibios
    May 21, 2006

    And when we are into rants, one country that does have these kind of ethic codes is Israel where all identity cards are marked with if you are a Jew or one of the other ‘nationalities’. It’s not as blatant as having to show it on your clothes, but it is still a useful base for discrimination in all circumstances where you have to show your ID, which tend to be circumstances that matter.

    If that’s true, then they are following the lead of the Soviet Union, which did the same thing.

    Of course, there are a lot of people in this world who believe that whether discriminatory laws are morally wrong is determined by who is being discriminated against by whom.

  28. #28 ebohlman
    May 21, 2006

    The issues involving the French ban on schoolgirls wearing hijabs are a little bit more complicated than they seem at first. The big problem is that in many if not most French Muslim households, the decision of whether or not to wear a hijab isn’t the girl’s; it’s her male relatives’, particularly her father. Many in France feel, based on the mainstream culture’s values, that that sort of patriarchal control over how “assimilated” a child will be isn’t acceptable. From that POV, allowing a “choice” of whether or not to wear a hijab simply gives more power to the already powerful without offering a real choice to anyone. I don’t entirely agree with this POV, but I do consider it legitimate.

  29. #29 Lucas
    May 21, 2006

    Here in Britain, there is no law forbidding you from wearing whatever you want in public. Only health and safety legislation governs what you can and cannot wear in certain enviroments and circumstances.

    You can go where ever you want naked if it is ‘decent’ and it only becomes indecent when it has a sexual element to it. British law recognises that nakedness doesn’t = sexual or indecent. But a shopkeeper, supermarket or privately owned property can order you off or out just as they can anyone else without giving a reason, unless they are discriminating based on race, religion, disability, etc.

    Israel is currently in a hostile situation, it isn’t using identity cards to monitor or control citizens. Wearing an ID card offers the person some protection from the notoriously trigger-happy armed forces. Iran, like many tinpot dictatorships tries to convince its people that they are under a constant and imminent threat from multiple sources so that any restriction can be justified.

    I would say the reason why the minority reports on the state of countries like Iran are not heard are largely the fault of the countries themselves because they constantly try to restrict the amount of information that goes in and out: making a religious claim that western infidel influence corrupts for one.

  30. #30 Anna in Cairo
    May 22, 2006

    All over the middle east passports and other IDs mention the person’s religion. It is also listed in CVs. This is considered normal and not discriminatory nor do people feel it is an invasion of privacy. I feel differently, because i was raised in the US. Cultural norms and the way people react to governmental restrictions do differ widely.

    Israel, like other middle eastern countries, lists religion on its IDs. Actually, Israel is constantly trying to tell the West that it is this totally non-Middle Eastern country culturally. I think this is largely wishful thinking. Teh majority of Israeli citizens are of Middle Eastern descent and its culture reflects that.

    As for the Iranian dress code and the hysterical and purposely misleading lies of the Canada paper, it is becoming the new “thing” to promote “clash of civilizations” silliness. It seems that a lot of Westerners are stupid enough to believe anything evil of people who are not them. I am glad that Orac and the people who comment here are not the norm and are skeptical enough to research a story and debunk it even if it seems to serve their overall worldview.

    There are enough real issues to focus on without making more up. Iran has lots of issues one could talk about.

  31. #31 Flex
    May 22, 2006

    Thomas Palm wrote:

    ‘Fortunately I don’t live in USA where atheists are banned from testifying or holding any public office in some states. (Yeah, I know, it’s not really enfoced, but the laws are there and at some point someone may decide to enforce it).’

    Actually, even though the laws are on the books, it would take a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce them. Seeing that it was a case which went to the USSC (in the 1970′s IIRC) which challenged and decided that all those laws were unconstitutional across the entire nation. (I suppose a constitutional amendentment or another civil war might also serve to change this.)

    -Flex

  32. #32 Sailorman
    May 22, 2006

    If it were true, is it offensive? Sure. But is it nearly AS offensive, or AS dangerous, as the gazillion other things that Iran can–and does–use to control its population? I would have to say no. It just makes for better press, true or false.

    As civil liberties go, dress seems well below speech, association, worship, and the like. For example, I would argue that forcing a woman to wear a chador, or a burka, or whatever, is much less of an intrusion on her life and ability to act human than denying her the ability to work, or to have separate legal status, or to get medical care, or…. Although those (as I said) don’t make good sound bites.

  33. #33 porlock junior
    May 23, 2006

    The only thing Orac got wrong here was not supplementing his natural skepticism with the obvious and valid guilt by association, or ad hominem attack: This was Conrad Black’s freaking newspaper fer Jebus sake. Like, its word is to be taken for anything?

    BTW it’s good to see so many of my loyal fellow amurricans giving the french what they deserve. If they hadn’t been planning to discriminate against Muslims by banning everybody from wearing ostentatious religious symbols, those frenchies would never have bothered to put in all that secularism stuff in seventeen-watzis, would they? (And don’t gimme your Anatole France quote about sleeping under bridges; there are lots of people who want to wear big religious symbols to school — ever notice that?) What a comfort that our skeptical rationalists, knowing that there’s a good deal of racism in France, unlike anywhere else, understand that that’s all that could be going, as there could never be any complexities or contradictions (or theoretical principles) in the politics of such a simple and apolitical nation as France, when we and George know that they are simply Bad, and that’s that.

    (Actually their secular principles are a good idea that they should know better than to try to work out fully; but this kind of Anglo-Saxon distinction is just what they’ve never been good at.)

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