Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country’s Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

“This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. “Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.”

Via Andrew Sullivan (who wins another Don’t Know Much About History award)

I shouldn’t expect Mr. Sullivan, who scarcely knows Christian history, to be acquainted with the finer points of medieval Islamic government regulations, but I would like to think that a moderately educated person in this country would know that badges identifying Jews (and Christians) go back to the early Caliphate and yellow identifying marks or other distinctive mandated forms of dress have a long tradition in Islamic history. It was a mark of non-Muslims’ dhimmi status. Distinctive dress and later yellow bands for non-Christians were introduced into Christian Europe in the High Middle Ages, but their earliest and most frequent appearance for centuries was in the Islamic world. If this is a “fascist” practice (a use of a label that betrays that Mr. Sullivan hasn’t given much thought to what fascism is, either), Muslims have been “fascists” for a very, very long time–a lot longer than historic Fascists, that’s for sure. The Iranian government is many things, many of them rather awful, but fascist in any meaningful sense really isn’t one of them. Wouldn’t it be enough for Iranophobes that it is an Islamic theocratic despotism? Must we trot out the f-word each time we object to a different form of government? Are most people in this country that ignorant and limited in their references and understanding? Maybe I don’t want an answer to that last question.

Update: As it turns out, the initial story of the badges for non-Muslims may have no basis whatever and may well be the product of Iranian expats stirring up resentment against the home country (no doubt intended as prelude to their glorious return by way of American intervention). Here is a citation from a very different take:

The National Post is sending shockwaves across the country this morning with a report that Iran’s Parliament has passed a law requiring mandatory Holocaust style badges to identify Jews and Christians.

But independent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is false.
“It’s absolutely factually incorrect,” he told The New 940 Montreal.
“Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I’ve checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside.”

“The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn’t be stupid enough to do it.”

Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago.
“Jews should wear yellow strips, Christians red strips, because according to the Iranian mullahs, if a Mulsim shakes hands with a non-Muslim he becomes unclean.”

The National Post cites Iranian expatriots living in Canada as its primary source on the story. ~940 Montreal

Via Antiwar

As an aside, if there are still 25,000 Jews in Iran after all this time since the Islamic Revolution, doesn’t that tell us something about the conditions in Iran for Jewish people relative to anywhere else in the Near East? Dreadful as the measure is, it is a fair sight better treatment than Jews have received in modern Arab countries. The current Iranian government is awful in many ways, but bear in mind that it could always be worse.