Saturday, May 20, 2006

Iran religion plan appalling, says PM


Saturday May 20 07:22 AEST

Prime Minister John Howard has reacted with horror to a new Iranian law forcing Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges.

The Iranian parliament passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments", Canadian newspaper the National Post reports.

The law, which has yet to be formally approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide", Ali Khamenei, before it comes into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims - a yellow strip of cloth for Jews, a red badge for Christians and blue cloth for Zoroastrians.

Mr Howard said he had not been formally briefed on the law but if the report was true, it would be totally repugnant. "It obviously echoes the most horrible period of genocide in the world's history and the marking of Jewish people with a mark on their clothing by the Nazis, and anything of that kind would be totally repugnant to civilised countries," Mr Howard said.

"If it is the case, it's something that would just further indicate to me the nature of this regime. It's a calculated insult - if it's true - not only to Christians but most particularly to Jews and therefore it has direct connotation for the state of Israel, which has been the object of hate speeches and speeches of vilification. It would be appalling."

The UN is currently trying to resolve a stand-off over Iran's nuclear program.

Mr Howard's Canadian host and counterpart, Stephen Harper, said the new law should help firm the UN's resolve to take action against the country.

"It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany," Mr Harper said.

"However, we've seen a number of things from the Iranian regime that are along these lines and the fact that such a measure could even be contemplated, I think, is absolutely abhorrent.

"And I would hope that as our allies wrest with the difficult issues surrounding Iran's apparent desire to obtain nuclear capacity, that they will reflect carefully on the nature of a regime that would even contemplate such actions or such thoughts."


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