Responding to a report Friday that a new law in Iran would force Jewish citizens to don a yellow armband, the United States government said it was looking into matter. US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said of the alleged law, “There is a parliamentary law whose exact nature is unclear and is being looked into.”
With that, McCormack stressed that "If you did have such an occurrence, whether it was in Iran or elsewhere, it would certainly be despicable."
"I think it has clear echoes of Germany under Hitler," he added.
National Uniform Law
Iranian expatriates said Friday that the "National Uniform Law" authorized by the Iranian parliament a few days ago, which is aimed at getting “Western” style clothing off the streets and advancing more traditional “Islamic” attire, also includes a clause obligating Iranian Jews to wear a yellow ribbon.
Members of the country’s Christian minority will be forces to wear a red ribbon, while those practicing the ancient Persian religion will be obligated to place a blue ribbon on their clothes.
The new law is expected to go into effect within the next few months after it is authorized by Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Shortly after the report was published in Canada’s National Post, however, the newspaper printed a second article expressing reservations about its legitimacy, saying that many experts doubt the existence of the supposed Iranian law. The Iranian Embassy in Canada also denied the reports, the newspaper said.
Ali Behroozian, an Iranian currently residing in Toronto, said that should the law pass the lives of Iranians belonging to the non-Muslim minorities will become intolerable.
"They have all been persecuted for a while, but these new dress rules are going to make things worse for them," he said.
'Iranian regime has completely lost its mind'
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Friday in response to reports that a new Iranian law may require Jews to wear a yellow armband, that ““he who will force Jews, wherever they may be, to wear yellow badges will eventually find himself in a casket covered in black cloth.”
Although the report is unconfirmed, Iranian expatriates in Canada told the National Post that a new “National Uniform Law” will require members of minority groups to wear identifying armbands: Jews would wear yellow ones, while Christians would don red bands and Persians – blue. According to the report, the new law which was approved in the Iranian parliament, would be applied in the upcoming months if it is okayed by Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Minister Ophir Pines, a member of the Political-Security Cabinet requested of the Cabinet Secretary that the issue be brought up on the agenda of the next government meeting. Pines said, “The state of Israel was established after the Holocaust, to prevent its recurrence. The yellow badge in Iran is a red light that obligates us to enlist the whole world in light of what is going on there.” Pines suggested that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put the matter as a top priority during his upcoming diplomatic visit to Washington.
Opposition parties slammed the report as well. Meretz Chairman Dr. Yossi Beilin said that “the moment Iranian Jews are told to wear a yellow ribbon, Israel will have to prove that there is a significance to the existence of a Jewish state after the Holocaust.”
“Israel cannot suffice with criticisms, and it will have to act to move all Jews that want to leave Iran, and stand at the forefront of isolating the insane and Hitlerian Iranian leadership from the government,” Beilin said.
'Closer and closer to Nazi ideology'
Chairman of the Leonid Nevzlin, chairman of the Diaspora Museum Board of Governors, called on Jews around the world to wear a yellow ribbon. Nevzlin said: “Iran is using Hitler’s methods of exterminating the Jewish people, and the whole world must unite against the threat to the free world.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said that Iran is getting "closer and closer to the Nazi ideology," adding that only an international outcry can prevent the law from going into effect.
Heir demanded that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan address the matter at once.
"The world ignored Hitler for many years; he was dismissed as a demagogue, they said he'd never come to power - and we were all wrong," he said.
Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Wiesenthal Center in Israel, said in response, “This is simply a catastrophe; it automatically brings one back to the Holocaust, and we do not need to remind the Israeli public that the yellow badges came just before the expulsion and extermination.
“There is no consolation in the fact that Christians are being labeled as well. The Iranian regime has completely lost its mind. The world cannot stand idly by, and I’m sure this development will place the Iranian issue at the top of the agenda during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s visit to Washington,” he said.