Is the Iranian yellow-badges story true? (bumped)

posted at 6:21 pm on May 19, 2006 by Allahpundit

Israeli politicians are sounding some very dire notes, but as far as I know, no one’s independently confirmed this morning’s story in the National Post yet. Neither Stephen Harper nor John Howard had heard anything about it until today. And a friend of mine with contacts in Iran says he can’t find anyone who thinks it’s true. Liberal Catnip links to a report from Montreal radio quoting one expert as saying it’s false.

On the other hand, Amir Taheri’s story in the Post this morning (which accompanied the main article that everyone’s linking to) is awfully detailed to have been made up out of whole cloth. Taheri is a credible reporter, and he has oodles of contacts in Iran, so it’s hard for me to believe he could have been suckered here. There’s certainly no dispute that the Majlis did pass a law this week mandating a national Islamic dress code (which is bad enough); the question is whether that law carries any special requirements for non-Muslims.

I’ll update once I hear more.

Update: Ace puts it nicely:

[I]t may just be a case of the telephone game, or understandably pissed-off Iranian exiles attempting a little propaganda against a regime that, in a better world, would need no propagadizing against. (In a perfect world, of course, it simply wouldn’t exist.)

Update: The rhetoric keeps escalating.

Update: Could it be that the Post’s sources were guessing what’s likely to happen under the new dress code (based on their knowledge of Iranian history) rather than stating what the statute explicitly provides? From an online history of Jews in 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.

Maybe the Iranian expatriates figure that yellow ribbons are the logical, inevitable next step of an Islamic dress code, and Chris Wattie, the NaPo reporter, misunderstood and thought they were saying the Majlis had already mandated them.

But would Taheri have misunderstood? Read his piece again. He sounds pretty darned certain.

Update: The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has issued a statement expressing concern — but they can’t confirm the story either.

Update: The Simon Wiesenthal Center has written a letter to Kofi Annan demanding that the United Nations investigate. Man, if this is a screw-up by the National Post, it’s an awfully big one.

Update: Well, well. We can confirm at least one Islamist proponent of yellow badges for religious minorities. You don’t have to go far to find him. Unfortunately.

Update: The New York Sun has been digging. Turns out even the State Department hasn’t been able to confirm the story yet. Here’s the Sun’s money graf:

On Friday, the Jewish Community’s representative in Iran’s parliament, known as the Majlis, Morris Mohtemed spoke with the secretary general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles, Sam Kermanian, and told him the story reported by the National Post in Canada today was false. “We have not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report, nonetheless we are pursuing this issue with concern,” Mr. Kermanian said in an interview with The New York Sun.

Update: CBS is holding off for now: has not mentioned it. “It’s potentially an explosive story but we won’t touch it until we have some sort of concrete confirmation, and we haven’t come close to that,” says Dan Collins, senior producer for

CBS News Radio has also decided against running the story, according to Exective Producer Charlie Kaye. “There are too many red flags here,” he says. “The best we can determine is this has originated with Iranian dissidents in Canada. We have spoken to a CBS News correspondent just back from Iran and her producer, we’ve spoken to the Iranian mission to the UN, we’ve spoken to our State Department Reporter Charlie Wolfson, and at this point we’re not comfortable putting it on the radio.”

Update: Reader Muslihoon points me to Debka, which says it’s obtained a copy of the Iranian statute and that it contains no special provisions regarding minorities — yet.

Update: The National Post has a new article up by Chris Wattie retreating from the original report. Wattie appears to point the finger at Taheri — even though it was his own byline that ran on the story everyone linked to.

So what happened?

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre and Iranian expatriates living in Canada had confirmed that the order had been passed, although it still had to be approved by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect…

Ali Reza Nourizadeh, an Iranian commentator on political affairs in London, suggested that the requirements for badges or insignia for religious minorities was part of a “secondary motion” introduced in parliament, addressing the changes specific to the attire of people of various religious backgrounds.

Mr. Nourizadeh said that motion was very minor and was far from being passed into law.

That account could not be confirmed.

Captain Ed notes that the original story has been removed from The Australian says Iran’s only Jewish MP, Morris Motammed (who was also quoted in the NY Sun’s article), denies the story emphatically.

Update: A bad day for journalists all the way around.

Update: Tolerant, mellow fellow that he is, you wonder if this story won’t give Ahmadinejad any ideas.

Update: I was hoping lefties would stick to gloating about the story being wrong and not use it as an opportunity to minimize Ahmadinejad’s other Nazi-esque inclinations. But that was naive of me, wasn’t it?

Andrew Bostom has a lengthy but valuable piece in the American Thinker today demonstrating why, tragically, this story was only too credible. Read the whole thing, as the man says.


Update: Good lord. The New York Post ran Taheri’s discredited piece in today’s edition.

Update: The AP has excerpts from the Iranian statute.

Update: I’ve already seen one lefty blog today claim that right-wingers aren’t correcting the record on this story. No? Here’s what the top of Memeorandum looked like in the wee hours this morning:


And here’s what the top of the page at BlogsNow looked like as of 5:50 p.m. this afternoon:


The National Post’s retraction is number two. This post is right below it at number four. So much for the cover-up.

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Every time I start to think “Even Ahmadinejad can’t be crazy enough to do [insert anything he has ever done],” he does it. I think that I have finally shed any residual predisposition to incredulity I may have harbored toward this madman. And even if this story proves false, just the fact that it seems plausible speaks volumes.

inmanjh on May 19, 2006 at 3:40 PM

If this story turns out to be false, I wonder how many knee-jerk HotAir readers will take back and apologize for all of their viscious attempts to try and smear this all over American liberals and Dems.

My guess – ZERO.

better off blue on May 19, 2006 at 3:52 PM

Here is the problem we all have with the Media. Yak first confirm later!

And they wonder why we say we cannot trust them!?

Warner Todd Huston on May 19, 2006 at 3:59 PM

better off blue:

Do you mean like the number of liberals that promised to leave the country if GWB was elected?

brtex on May 19, 2006 at 4:32 PM

It certainly would not be unexpected, given this guy’s rhetoric.

brtex – Good point. I’m STILL waiting for them to follow through on that one!

Jezla on May 19, 2006 at 5:00 PM

There IS a mistake, it’s not Yellow patches, it’s a BRAND ON THE FOREHEAD.

Richard Davis on May 19, 2006 at 5:00 PM

I wouldn’t urinate on a lib’s head if his hair was afire. The hatred and scorn they have for my country and our military demands that I hate them at least as much as they hate me. Why would I apologize to one for anything? If the story was true, the libs would be for it, and you know it.

ecamorg on May 19, 2006 at 5:12 PM

better Off Blue, u must be paranoid, as I haven’t seen any posts blaming the actions of the Iranians on you democrats.

gary on May 19, 2006 at 5:14 PM

Ahmadinejad is really an Iranian liberal

He wanted to allow women into sports events but was recently overruled as the liberal bastion NPR reports.

I’m waiting for his apologists in the American Leftist community to announce what colors go well with yellow and red in the interest of avoiding war at all costs.

“The German victories in spring, 1940 shocked Americans. But while Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain stirred American admiration and sympathy, some 75 percent of respondents in public opinion surveys said that America should help the British and 85 percent indicated a desire to avoid war at all costs.”

Here’s one of them now:
“The young people completely missed the other half of what Remembrance Day is all about — remembering the horror and suffering of war and the lessons so painfully learned by our parents and grandparents that we must avoid war at all costs in future.”

Reality Check on May 19, 2006 at 5:32 PM

I think Blue is projecting again.

I have been trying to think of one time when a liberal apolagised for being wrong…
I know I know, thats awfully liberal of me. Pointing out anothers inadaquacies or failures while parroting” we are better, we have a better way” But never saying what the better way is…

Wyrd on May 19, 2006 at 5:39 PM

Blue, who are you talking about? Names, please.

Pablo on May 19, 2006 at 6:17 PM

Its always easier doing another persons character inventory.

A quote from ..I dont know whom.

These yellow badges gave me a jolt, straight to the heart. Although I’m not jewish, I have been to East Berlin before the wall came down, showing war torn Berlin(they-communists- NEVER rebuilt much of the cityof East Berlin as a reminder that they lost) as it looked in 1945. Also traveling to Dachau the same trip to see the furnaces and concentration camps. The thought of yellow arm badges being used again was frightening. If there is truth to this story, we need to keep watch on Iran closer than we all thought. The evil of all evils could lie in Iran.

shooter on May 19, 2006 at 6:33 PM

To ‘better off blue’:

I agree that we must confirm before reacting.

That said, if the latest insanity out of Iran turns out to be TRUE, what will the ‘knee-jerk’ liberals then say?

Oh, I know! How about “I’m sorry!”

ForYourEdification on May 19, 2006 at 7:48 PM

ecamorg – Bwahahahaha! totally agree w/ you!

Richard Davis on May 19, 2006 at 8:16 PM

My initial reaction to “better off blue” is that he/she was a KosKid lurking in enemy territory (HotAir), feeling all put-out in general, and looking for soapbox to hijack so that she/he could give us heartless Right-Wing Wackos a precious piece of his/her underutilized mind. The topic of the post to which she/he commented was irrelevant; also irrelevant was the fact that nobody thoughtful enough to hold conservative views would remotely imagine assigning blame to liberals for the actions of a Iranian madman.

But this was just my reaction. I should really try to confirm this impression first. Refuting this impression would be the bigger challenge though…

inmanjh on May 19, 2006 at 9:28 PM

Let’s all follow Jack Murtha’s example and hang the Iranian Mullahs before the story’s confirmed! After all if that approach is good enough for Jack Murtha, given his long military history and his strong support for our military’s adoption of French military strategies, then it should be good enough for us too.

Jeez, now I don’t know what to do so I’ll just stick with condemning any likely Iranian effort to use the Nazi tactic of putting yellow stars on people while holding off on A-Bombing them until that story is proven correct! Don’t quite know where to put Jack Murtha since I’d like to hang’m before the facts are in but that’s just a strong emotion!

DougW on May 19, 2006 at 9:28 PM

And some of you are mad at the Republicans and want to replace them with Democrats?

Do you really want to replace a spineless Republican with a Murtha or a Reid?


easy87us on May 19, 2006 at 11:25 PM

what pisses me off is that everyone is missing the point
it is not a Jew thing…….it is a non muslim thing……… you know that non muslims are not allowed to go out in the rain in muslim societies?
Muslims consider non muslims unclean so if it rains they are afraid the water that touched a non-muslim might wash onto them……….Islam wants badges for everyone FOR ALL NON-MUSLIMS – to identify them for musilm purposes. iT’S not a jew thing and everyone is makng it out to be that. It’s Islam and we are all targets


Atlas Shrugs on May 20, 2006 at 1:09 AM

It also makes all of them targets for all non-muslim things.

RolandHall on May 20, 2006 at 2:02 AM

Even if the story isn’t true, the point is it’s perfectly believable. Radical Islam is the biggest threat to the world today but many seem blissfully unaware of the threat. The MSM, all politicians, the left, most of Europe, are all so controlled by political correctness they can’t permit themselves to identify a real danger.

Everyone wants to separate the radicals from moderate Muslims, but I don’t believe there is much difference. Most of the material I’ve read on it indicates Muslims worldwide would prefer us all under Islamic rule. That’s why there’s such silence even when people are being beheaded.

Even the MSM can’t seem to find many “regular Joe” Muslims to criticize the brutality. I’m afraid as our Western societies become controlled more and more by the Neville Chamberlain mentality, we’ll hasten our own demise. Scary.

right as rain man on May 20, 2006 at 9:47 AM

Ok folks…..Here’s the “skinny”…….

Years ago, Iran had a similar law, but it got overturned. Mock-Mood wants to bring the law back.

….That’s what’s going on!


VonHelton on May 20, 2006 at 10:16 AM

So now the Iranians adamantly deny the new law was passed…but notice the “gotcha!”:

But for the Holocaust, many would find the badging of groups as merely offensive. But for the Holocaust, some might discover arguments that badging benefits the marked minorities. But for the Holocaust, false rumors of badging might have gone unnoticed by the world press.

But if the Iranians deny the Holocaust, then why the concern over accusations of badging? If one believes as they do (that badging doesn’t lead to “final solutions”) why should they care if we are mistaken as to this trivial aspect of their attire laws? Surely there are other, more serious western misunderstandings of islamic law they would like to correct us on.

In short, taking offense to the idea of badging religious minorities is an admission that the Holocaust did happen.

papermelech on May 20, 2006 at 12:04 PM

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the day I’m forced to wear a colored patch, it’s getting trimmed into the shape of the middle finger.

RD on May 20, 2006 at 7:48 PM

The latest information I have is the Taheri article fromt he New York Post which IS NOT THE SAME ARTICLE AS WAS IN CANADA’S NATIONAL POST. So, either it got by the editors at the NYPost and they went ahead not knowing the story had been discredited, OR, Taheri and the NYPost are sticking by the story. Because it’s a bit fuzzy about who is averring what, I think we should hold our fire on this one pro tem….but, I would not categorically deny it either. There’s no confirmation but I would not be at all surprised that it WAS going to be true and then Iran has seen the furor over the possibility and backed down. Which, if true is interesting. They don’t mind threatening us with nukes but would deny a shameful thing like this? Well, we can’t know until they implement it and I would not be surprised at all find out in another few weeks that the little Rumpelstiltskin has brought this practice back. He won’t be able to stop himself, he’s such a little gnome. He may deny it but if he has it in mind, he won’t be able to stop himself from putting it into practice because that’s what he’s like. He litterally hops on one foot when he’s spitting and ranting and he telegraphs everything he’s going to do. This is so HIM that if he doesn’t do it I’ll be surprised.

foreign_devil on May 21, 2006 at 12:17 AM

papermelech: Very good point! If the Iranians deny the Holocaust…why the sudden rush to deny that they are badging ‘because they don’t want to be compared to an event THAT DIDN’T EXIST?’

Ahmadindahaid can’t have it both ways.

foreign_devil on May 21, 2006 at 12:23 AM

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If you have any questions about Iran’s affiliation to the Nazi’s and if the website has not convinced you of their decades’-old connection to Germany’s Nazi Party, this picture of Hezbollah forces in the Lebanese Parliament may help:

foreign_devil on May 21, 2006 at 12:31 AM

Thank you foreign devil for that telling picture. Stinking to high heaven, the hez tries to look thoughtful. But of course, the only thing they think about is how to spill the blood of the Jews.

BeeCharmer on May 21, 2006 at 9:20 PM