Older than the Reich

It isn’t yet clear whether Iran’s legislative assembly has adopted legislation requiring non-Muslims to wear identifying, color-coded badges. But if it has, Andrew Bostom writes in The American Thinker, such action would be consistent with strong currents of bigotry against non-Muslims that go deep into Iran’s history. Bostom argues that those who saw the color-coding concept only as a reference to the Third Reich are missing a far more significant historical context:

An outraged Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Weisenthal Institute immediately responded to the provisions for Jews:

“This is reminiscent of the Holocaust…Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.”

Such a comparison sprang to the minds of many.

But Rabbi Hier’s statement and this general view ignore the immediate context—most glaringly, the simultaneous dress badge requirements for Christians and Zoroastrians living in Iran—and more importantly, the sad historical legacy of Shi’ite religious persecution of all non-Muslims which dates back to the founding of the Shi’ite theocracy in (then) Persia, under Shah Ismail at the very outset of the 16th century.

I had not realized what a direct historical precedent there is to the currently-reported clothing regulations:

With regard to dress, Majlisi’s stipulations from the late 17th century are consistent with the contemporary Iranian Parliament’s proposal (albeit the “color-coding” differs):

It is appropriate that the ruler of the Muslims imposed upon them clothing that would distinguish then from Muslims so that they would not resemble Muslims. It is customary for Jews to wear yellow clothes while Christians wear black and dark blue ones. Christians [also] wear a girdle on their waists, and Jews sew a piece of silk of a different color on the front part of their clothes.

Bostom sums up:

An ethos of infidel-hatred, including paroxysms of annihilationist fanaticism, has pervaded Persian/Iranian society, almost without interruption (i.e., the two major exceptions being Sunni Afghan rule from 1725-1794, and Pahlavi reign, with its Pre-Islamic revivalist efforts, from 1925-1979), since the founding of the Shi’ite theocracy in 1502 under Shah Ismail, through its present Khomeini-inspired restoration, since 1979.

I recommend reading Bostom’s piece in its entirety; it is both thorough and depressing.

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