Iran Considers Religious Clothing Law

May 20, 2006

Source: cnews

Wire Service: AP

On May 20, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "A draft law being considered by Iran's parliament encourages the wearing of Islamic clothing to protect the country's Muslim identity, according to a copy of the bill obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday.

The 13-article bill, which received preliminary approval a week ago, does not mention requiring special attire for religious minorities.

On Friday, a Canadian newspaper, quoting Iranian exiles, said the law would force Jews, Christians and other religious minorities to wear special patches of coloured cloth to distinguish them from Muslims.

The report brought immediate criticism from Canada, Australia and the United States, which is locked in a standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he couldn't vouch for the accuracy of the newspaper report, but he added that Iran was capable of such actions and compared them to Nazi practices of requiring Jews to wear a yellow Star of David... The law does not define the Islamic-Iranian style that it will encourage or directly impose a particular uniform, as the newspaper article suggested.

The Post also said that the law required Jews to wear a yellow strip of cloth sewn into their clothes, Christians to have a red one and Zoroastrians to wear blue. The copy of the bill received by AP makes no mention of minorities... Laws in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution require women to wear 'chador' - meaning a head scarf to cover their hair and a long overcoat the hide their shapes.

But in the past decade, enforcement has grown lax, and women - particularly in the capital, Tehran - commonly wear scarves that leave almost their entire heads bare and short, form-fitting jackets instead of overcoats.

The bill makes no specific mention of women but says it aims to 'encourage the public to abstain from choosing clothes that aren't appropriate to the culture of Iran,' according to the copy received from the parliament's press office."