The folks over at Talking Points Memo are rather convinced that the Iranian Dress Code story is “already debunked” (here and here). None of them speak a word of Farsi, as far as I know, but the word of Juan Cole is apparently good enough for them – better obviously than that of Farsi native speaker Amir Taheri, whose column first broke the story. Taheri has written a simple addendum which is pretty self-explanatory:
Regarding the dress code story it seems that my column was used as the basis for a number of reports that somehow jumped the gun. As far as my article is concerned I stand by it. The law has been passed by the Islamic Majlis and will now be submitted to the Council of Guardians. A committee has been appointed to work out the modalities of implementation. Many ideas are being discussed with regard to implementation, including special markers, known as zonnars, for followers of Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the only faiths other than Islam that are recognized as such. The zonnar was in use throughout the Muslim world until the early 20th century and marked out the dhimmis, or protected religious minorities. ( In Iran it was formally abolished in 1908). I have been informed of the ideas under discussion thanks to my sources in Tehran, including three members of the Majlis who had tried to block the bill since it was first drafted in 2004. I do not know which of these ideas or any will be eventually adopted. We will know once the committee appointed to discuss them presents its report, perhaps in September.
One of the things that startled me in this (you always learn more about Iran when reading Taheri) is that only Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism are recongized as minority faiths in Iran. What happened to Buddhism and Hinduism? Are they even beneath dhimmitude? Interesting.
Anyway, about the issue at hand, potential armbands or their equivalent, I guess the folks at TPM want to make this a liberal/conservative thing. I suppose I’m naive. I thought it was about human rights – or maybe basic morality.