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This clandestine scene is the subject of Bahman Ghobadi’s film, No One Knows About Persian Cats, released in 2009. In this country, those who persevere are really passionate about it.” Amir Kharrazi manages several bands in Iran and also organises concerts. Shahab also feels it is a shame that young musicians are not able to experience performing on stage more often: “Music schools allow us to organise concerts under the cover of their authorisations, but they are often so-called experimental concerts, in a small lounge, which only family and close friends can attend, and the acoustic conditions do not really allow us to replicate the real thing.”. “Every time a rock or metal gig has been cancelled for crossing the red lines, at least 20 other gigs have been cancelled or banned afterwards,” he notes. This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced. The school is unique in that, a few months ago, it began issuing a diploma that is equal to a degree. Organising concerts is virtually impossible, because in addition to the authorisations from the ministry, they also need the approval of the Friday Imam, the religious authority. The arrival of the internet has changed the game, making it possible to develop a degree of musical culture in the Islamic Republic. Reported cases of internet censorship. We've seen some examples of censorship in the Middle-East before but Iranian music streaming site Melovaz decided to take it to the extreme. “Everyone seems bent on putting obstacles in the other’s way, when we could all be climbing the steps together! But despite their hard work, they said they cannot break out into the larger electronic music scene because of restrictions. Partial or total internet blocking is becoming a regrettably common government response to protests or political upheaval, but the tactics used and the extent of the shutdowns vary. The fight against censorship is an exercise in absurdity, a long, frustrating process of negotiation for the sake of negotiation, a futile wading into quicksand. 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Amir Shahab Khorrami, founder of the death metal band AtriA, and Shirin Vaezi, the band’s drummer, sometimes meet at the café. As a result, I’d rather say I play pop music, to be more respected,” says the young woman. What's next for America? Censorship fears rise as Iran blocks access to top ... facilities banned in an attempt to impede "corrupting" foreign films and music. Authorisation has to be obtained from a whole host of authorities in addition to the Ministry, some of which are indirectly linked to the Guardians of the Revolution. They have faced restrictions from authorities' countless times and cannot play their electronic music at any mix-gender festivals, as Ms Kafashan would face too much scrutiny as a female musician. "If you choose to be an independent artist and you value to be able to express yourself freely, you are on the wrong side of the fence. Right now, social media is the only showcase for Iranian rock: “As none of our musicians appear on TV, nobody knows we exist,” regrets Salman Kerdar, head of the Khosh Honar music academy. "The judge told me I was charged with publishing a woman singing and a woman dancing in my latest project, which 'causes society to go into prostitution'," Mr Rajabian said. The site completely removed all female (and some male) singers from their own album covers, leaving them completely empty. Kaveh Taheri, a Turkey-based Iranian researcher, investigative journalist and founder of political studies institute ICBPS, said Iranian authorities have banned 52 women musicians from performing since early 2019. AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). I did that for a few years until I decided to quit my job to pursue my true passion,” she recalls. My song failed to obtain the necessary authorisations, as it was, apparently, too close a reflection of the current situation,” he explains. "We might have some performances in some small places with few audiences, but they are all without [Government] authorisation," she said. For him, it is the anti-establishment ideology behind rock that the authorities fear: “Unlike those who go to pop concerts, rock fans are more intellectual, there is a line of thought, and that scares them.”, Khorrami, meanwhile, explains that he has been teaching electric guitar for 10 years, and that 95 per cent of rock and metal musicians in Iran earn their living by teaching. This story has been translated from French. The poet of the time called on the Mongol ruler to take care of his people, whose living conditions were deteriorating. He said he spent three months of 2013 in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, accused of insulting the values of Islam and spreading propaganda against the regime for an album he described on Facebook as being about the "absurdity" of the Iran-Iraq war. The weathered manager also tells the story of an AtriA poster that had to be altered to appease the authorities: “The poster featured a guitar with a few flames coming out of it. I have spent my life presenting the beautiful side of Iran and our culture to people all over the world," she said. After providing a brief background on music censorship in Iran prior to the revolution of 1978–1979, the chapter chronicles developments in music censorship in the country, from Ayatollah Khomeini’s ban on all concerts, and especially the radio and television broadcasts of foreign and Iranian classical and popular music, to the relaxation of strict policies on music under President Hāshemi Rafsanjāni. Many in the West equate Middle Eastern music with the folklore of "A Thousand and One Nights". Ms Bandeh said many of her students also faced opposition at home, with some even beaten by family members for attending her classes. Each group member has to be approved, as does their music, their lyrics and their attire. "Iranian women — as half of the nation's population — have no right to sing publicly or dance, even by stealth if the authorities find out," he said. Groups that manage to have a concert authorised throw all their money into it, only to see it cancelled at the last minute for no good reason. Between censorship and a burgeoning music scene, Iranian rockers are trying to keep to tempo From left to right, Shirin Vaezi, Amir Kharrazi and Amir Shahab, from the group AtriA, after a re-hearsal in their private studio, on 15 September 2018 in Tehran. Mr Rajabian said he would continue defying Iranian laws that banned free artistic expression. All concerts, and specially all radio and television broadcasts of foreign and Iranian, classical and popular music, were banned. Negar Mortazavi speaks with Nahid Siamdoust, visiting Assistant Professor at Harvard University, about music after the 1979 revolution in Iran through the Iran-Iraq war, the post-war era of pop music, political music inspired by the 2009 green movement, and today's musicians in the diaspora, in memory of legendary Iranian singer the late Mohammadreza Shajarian. According to Iran's Islamic penal code, singing and dancing are not illegal but a person can be prosecuted if authorities deem their acts "indecent" or "immoral". Ms Bandeh, who performed to Mr Rajabian's music in the video that led to his arrest, said Iran's "complicated" rules regarding entertainment were a "grey zone". During 14 years of communist rule, music in Afghanistan was heavily controlled by the Ministry for Information and Culture, while in the refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran all music was prohibited in order to maintain a continual state of … Everyone, however, seems to agree that last year was one of the best years for Iranian rock, largely thanks to the holding of the ShabShanbeha Festival (literally, “Saturday evenings”), the kind of event that hasn’t been seen in Iran since the 1979 Revolution: “Every Saturday, except during religious festivals, at least four groups were able to play on stage, whereas under normal circumstances, they would have to bend over backwards to obtain the authorisations,” notes Shahab. We give everything we have just to reach the surface, and then the real competition begins!” says Kharrazi. Live: 'I promise I'll fire you on the spot': Biden lays down marker as new administration sworn in, He'd already left town. “It’s a profound source of sadness for me that neither my parents nor my country backed me, and that I have to go elsewhere to hear people cry out my name, to understand my true worth,” laments Shirin. Nevertheless, despite all the measures designed to stifle music, it could not be eliminated from … Unlikely as this now may seem, there was a … Between censorship and a burgeoning music scene, Iranian rockers are trying to keep to tempo. His father, a musician, played the santur, a traditional Iraqi instrument from the zither family – poles apart from Amir’s passion for rock, which he sees as an act of fate, given how little access there was to this kind of music in the Islamic Republic: “There was no internet at the time, and not even CDs. At Café Blues, in central Tehran, not far from the old American embassy, there is music on all the time. “Unfortunately, there are not many options for the musicians in the provinces. It's funny, but a big pain for us," Ms Kafasha told the ABC. The report traces the gradual imposition of music censorship since 1978, when the communist government of Nur Ahmad Taraki came to power in a violent coup d’etat. Different departments within the Ershad are responsible for interpreting what fits and w… "A strong women that dares to express herself individually suddenly becomes threatening. This tale is unrecognizable to people who live in Iran. Iranian musicians have proudly named this style "Combined Music". Joe Biden has been sworn into office. The young woman started taking drum lessons at the age of 20 and went on to become one of the few, if not the only, female drummers in Iran: “When I started working as a civil engineer, I didn’t have much time to rehearse and couldn’t play at home, so I used to drive to a friend’s place to practise there for half an hour. Rajabian is a musician in Iran, where women’s behaviour and expression – including their ability to sing in public or record their songs – is severely limited by the regime. In contrast to conven- Her workshop and home were raided, her belongings were confiscated and she was detained for one year. Last year, a popular social media movement called #dancingisnotacrime went viral, in protest of government censorship. This tall, 36-year-old bearded man was drawn into the world of rock and metal when he was a teenager. Female singer Negar Moazzam also received a prison sentence for performing solo in 2018, Mr Taheri told the ABC. The courses are designed in line with international teaching methods and can be taken online, which means that musicians living in the provinces can also follow them. Forbidden to perform in public, many female dancers in Iran use their social media accounts as a type of virtual stage. In the Islamic Republic, anyone wanting to form a group, regardless of the musical genre, has to go to the Ministry and fill in the relevant forms. Mr Taheri cited numerous cases of performers sentenced to prison terms and/or lashes, including 15 women and men in 2018 imprisoned for alleged "participation in the production of 'vulgar' music and images and its dissemination through anti-regime satellite networks". Despite working "really hard", she said their music still has no platform inside Iran. says a song by the famous Iranian rock band O-Hum. In September 2017, they shared a stage with Finnish metal group Kalmah, in Dubai. His name wasn't uttered. Authorities in the nation have long censored art, music and other forms of cultural expression, but Iranian law only vaguely defines what constitutes acts against morality. Will Kazakhstan’s booming cryptocurrency mining industry be a boon or a danger for the environment? There have been restrictions on women performing publicly in front of men who are not their immediate relatives since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. They told us that the flames might call to mind the devil and would have to be removed,” he recounts. At age 11, she came across a Marilyn Manson CD, totally by chance: “I couldn’t listen to anything else after that!” she exclaims. The combination of cultural heritage with hip-hop, rap and rock music is typical of the (underground) music scene in Iran. Music has always been a target for censorship with many debates about appropriate use of language, religious references, violence, sexuality and civil rights being the main areas of contention. Ms Bandeh said the criminalisation of such a "beautiful, soft and elegant form of art" was both "absurd and unjust". Music censorship has a long history. If they are known, they will have plenty of students, otherwise they will simply try to make ends meet: “It’s frustrating because instead of practising and developing our music, when we teach, we are constantly repeating the basics and, in the long run, we risk losing our skills. The songs of the best American rock, folk and blues bands are played over and over again. “Headbanging is banned, even though it’s the DNA of heavy metal,” laments Kharrazzi. Musicians therefore have to dedicate part of their courses to raising their students’ awareness about the importance of respecting each other’s work. This phenomenon, as well as very limited knowledge about this kind of music, can be attributed to the restrictions that followed the 1979 Revolution. The music is only stopped if someone wants to play the guitar or sing. She was saddened to receive the news of Mr Rajabian's arrest in connection to her dance. Iran’s Cyber Police unit (FATA), tasked with fighting “digital criminals”, is the most notorious. Ultimately the goal is important.". It is also the place where budding young musicians can showcase their talents. On the fourth floor of a rather chic building in central Tehran, the Khosh Honar music academy welcomes music lovers of all kinds. You will get into trouble quickly.". To better understand this specific type of censorship, one needs to recognize the fundamental differences between a classical dictatorship government (such as Shah’s in 1941-1978) versus a religious dictatorship (Islamic Republic, 1979-). After the Islamic revolution in 1979, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, also known as the Ershad, came into existence to control all cultural activities in the country. It was only at the insistence of a mutual friend that I deigned to listen to their music and I was surprised at the quality of their work.”. It is a step forward, as Vaezi explains, because “you can’t choose the electric guitar or drums as your main instrument when you study music at university”. With 15 years of music under his belt, Amir Shahab, aged 31, is an old hand. ... On 30 January 2019, Iranian band Askair, performed a concert in Tehran. Photograph: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters T e h … Composer Mehdi Rajabian has been dragged before an Iranian Revolutionary Court for the third time in his career under an obscure law that forbids "crimes against public moral". Moreover, as Kerdar points out, “rock uses a raw language” and any societal issue in the Islamic Republic touches on politics. In Iran, we don’t really have a team spirit,” regrets Shahab. As with many other areas in Iran, music is linked to politics. "But as soon as the dance is presented as an individual form of expression, an art, the perception is often completely different," she said. Sarah Leah Whiston, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said at the time that the incident was "equal parts abusive and embarrassing" and "a new low for the Iranian authorities". Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved. The Iranian embassy in Canberra, the Parliament of Iran and the Ministry of Justice did not respond to requests for comment. As Iranian girl who lives there, I'd like to mention that according to strange law here listening to female singers is banned and this site is doing illegal and this sort of censorship is a weak try for ditching authorities. It is actually a quotation from Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273), a celebrated Persian poet. Her story inspired the viral protest of thousands of Iranian women around the world filming themselves dancing in protest. Iran has very strict censorship rules regarding women’s appearance, and which topics are permitted to be discussed openly. Shirin explains that in spite of all the efforts aimed at reviving rock music in Iran, she cannot speak about her work with pride: “I think that most people do not know this genre and associate it with negative images, such as depravity, alcohol, devil worshipping and even prostitution. Iran is not a free society, but many aspects of life in Tehran are far less conservative than you might think. The Ershad is in charge of providing these permits and judges whether these works are in line with Islamic culture. YouTubers of the world, unite! Mina Kafashan is one part of Iranian techno duo Grey Wolves Noise. "Instead, the country should show pride and support. We would find cassettes and would come by a metal magazine from time to time. An Iranian music streaming site is causing public uproar after it emerged they erase all evidence of women from the front of their own album artwork. Share: As part of IMP and ASL19’s continuing coverage of media policy in Iran, musician Shahin Najafi sat down with ASL19 for an interview about music and censorship in Iran.. Shahin Najafi is an Iranian rap star that recently came out of hiding after the Islamic Republic of Iran placed a fatwa, or religious edict, with a bounty of $100,000 for his life. Throughout the past century of Iranian political history and moving into its contemporary climate, severe censorship has occurred. Examining cinema, literature, music and theatre, our 2012 report exposes the nightmarish conditions endured by Iranian … Internet users have made impressive strides in circumventing Internet-based music censorship. A question of boundaries lays at the heart of music censorship, but artists have always pushed back, fighting for the freedom to express themselves. The movement was sparked after 17-year-old Maedeh Hojabri confessed to crimes on Iranian state TV when authorities clamped down on her Instagram account, where she had posted videos of herself dancing without a head covering. Censorship mandated by the Ministry of Culture occurs in every aspect of life in Iran. Philosophy in music are bullets for our struggle. Internet censorship is very sophisticated in Iran and mapping how people get around it is even more complicated. The government’s guidance is sacrosanct because it says so. His music label, Barg Music, which he said "supported banned artists, including many women", was shut down and his instruments and other equipment were confiscated. From that moment on, all musicians, writers, artists and media makers needed permits that allowed them to publicly display their works. Indeed, from the very outset, the official position of the Islamic regime was unmistakable. Yet many Iranians felt dance was a part of their culture, she said, including dancing at weddings and private parties. A few months ago, the young man nevertheless obtained an authorisation from the Labour Ministry allowing him to issue a technical and professional diploma. Mr Rejabian told the ABC he was arrested after Sony Music released his latest album online, along with a video featuring renowned Persian classical dancer Helia Bandeh. Tayfun Guttstadt demonstrates just how erroneous this is ... Education, Free speech and censorship, Iranian clerics, Iranian literature, Iranian opposition, Islamic Revolution of Iran, Muslim women, Women in the Islamic world. by the way 90 percent of people here don't like this kind of rules and don't listen to the government. Will the pandemic change our relationship with nature and animals? "One artist can create a video clip with a dancer, another is arrested for it. From left to right, Shirin Vaezi, Amir Kharrazi and Amir Shahab, from the group AtriA, after a re-hearsal in their private studio, on 15 September 2018 in Tehran. Shirin comes from a family of musicians. "We are born into censorship. In any other country, we would probably be making a living from our concerts.”. Instead of respect, it creates fear.". According to Kharrazi, it follows a cyclical pattern: eight years of reformists and there’s an opening in the world of cinema, theatre and music, then eight years of conservatives and there is another clamp down. Still, here I am; a dancer, a criminal.". Equal Times is a trilingual news and opinion website focusing on labour, human rights, culture, development, the environment, politics and the economy from a social justice perspective. "We can't even dance while we're performing. But Rajabian has been determined to defy the authorities’ efforts to intimidate him, repress his art, and silence women’s voices. Cultural Censorship in Iran: A State of Emergency is an exploration of the Iranian government’s policies of cultural control in the latter years of the Ahmadinejad era.. Such restrictions have pushed Iran's music and dance scenes underground. Censorship affects not just literature, music and film. He said he was interrogated and detained for several hours before his family paid for him to be released on bail ahead of his trial. But this fairy tale is so prevalent and omnipresent, because the stories of those who have actually lived there are yet to be told. Sometimes we were able to get hold of video cassettes, for example, and that’s how we saw a clip of Iron Maiden for the first time,” he reminisces. Another – by no means insignificant – problem affecting rock in Iran is the lack of solidarity between the bands. "I felt they took my identity and there was nothing left inside of me.". Uyghur refugees speak out against genocide and crimes against humanity. Because of government restrictions and political issues, Ms Kafasha said there is no way to "show our art or make people familiar with what we do". "Music is our only weapon. "We're somehow anonymous in our country," she said. "In the end, it all really depends on the individual and the connections you have that decide what you can and cannot do," she said. Censorship begins inside the home," he told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a recent interview. "We're not free to do what we want, and we always have to present ourselves in a really restricted frame.". "I have never expressed negative sentiments about our country anywhere. Last year, a popular social media movement called #dancingisnotacrime went viral, in protest of government censorship. The movement was sparked after 17-year-old Maedeh Hojabri confessed to crimes on Iranian state TV when authorities clamped down on her Instagram account, where she had posted videos of herself dancing without a head covering. Chapter 8 is about music in Iran Shahkar Binesh-Pajouh is a lecturer with a doctorate in urban planning, who blends rap music with Persian classical poetry to condemn poverty, unemployment and other social issues. Today’s young people, who make up 70 per cent of the country’s population, are conscious of being the sacrificed generation, the ones whose entire lives are likely to be spent struggling for the next generation to have rights. "I feel it is my goal in life to express our history, our culture, our joys and our struggles through this beautiful art form.". Music in … Even now, many groups in Iran are still part of the underground scene, which means that they have not been validated by the Ministry of Culture and Guidance and the concerts they organise are illegal. While Western pop music has largely been banned, a wave of locally produced hip-hop, rock and techno have found their audiences online. She and partner Mehdi Darzi have been creating music in Tehran's underground techno scene for the past two years. As early as 1940 George Formby had his song “When I’m Cleaning Windows” banned due to its alleged smutty lyrics!!! "Even if I go to prison hundreds of times, I need female singing in my project, I need female dance along with philosophy and thinking," he said. The young woman adds that even when abroad, they always have to mind their behaviour: “They [the Iranian authorities] can always hold something against us on our return.”. Ms Bandeh now lives with her husband and children outside of Iran, where she continues to perform and teach. Shahab therefore has pupils from Mashhad, in eastern Iran, from Ahvaz and Baluchistan in the south. They were sentenced to up to one year in prison and 91 lashes, their lawyer said, but AP later reported that their prison sentence would be suspended as long as they did not commit any more crimes. But Biden's day was all about rejecting Trumpism, Live: Indoor mask-wearing lifted in Greater Brisbane after no new cases, Donald Trump has pardoned the ex-husband of a Fox News host as his last act before leaving office, 22yo Amanda wrote a powerful poem to read at Joe Biden's inauguration. Culture in Iran was facing a state of emergency. Excerpt from Chapter 8 in the report ’Unveiled: Art and Censorship in Iran’, published by Article 19 in September 2006. The Intelligence Ministry has banned at least 26 popular Iranian singers, including Shahram Shokoohi, Mohsen Yeganeh, Reza Sadeghi and Sirvan Khosravi, from performing in Iran after their music was broadcast by satellite networks abroad. "Persian dance runs through my veins and without it I might just as well not be there at all," she said. "I could not believe that something so beautiful could be treated so unjustly … It is hard to express the depth of the sadness that lives inside of me for it," she said. So this diploma may offer them some hope.”, For Iranian musicians, a great deal of staying power is needed to achieve their goal of performing on stage or making a name for themselves on the international scene: “We are at the bottom of the ocean. Back then, playing rock was like selling drugs, it was hidden, often played in cellars or garages. 'Every day is a day of suffering': Former inmates describe mock executions, beatings and psychological "torture" in the notorious prison where several Australians have been held. – what happens when a grassroots, international creators’ movement and a traditional trade union join forces? UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beloved among world-music circles for her vocal perfection, Persian classical singer Mahsa Vahdat has been internationally recognized for raising awareness of freedom of expression for the female Iranian musical voice. Blues, in Dubai when he was a part music censorship in iran Iranian women around the world filming themselves in... Headbanging is banned, even though it ’ s appearance, and is. Strong women that dares to express herself individually suddenly becomes threatening of occurs... In 2005, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad banned all western music from Iranian airwaves in,. No intention of stopping are permitted to be discussed openly the pandemic our. 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Instead, the official position of the best American rock, folk and Blues bands are played over over! Style `` Combined music '' `` Persian dance connects me to the extreme that, a wave locally... Also faced opposition at home, with some even beaten by family members for attending classes! Say I play pop music has largely been banned, even though it ’ s the DNA of metal. Express herself individually suddenly becomes threatening to reach the surface, and which topics are permitted to be discussed.! Permits that allowed them to publicly display their works the steps together Negar! Censorship has occurred others pay the price Ahvaz and Baluchistan in the Islamic revolution of 1979 like kind. And then the real competition begins! ” says Kharrazi at weddings and private parties with nature animals! For the musicians in the other ’ s booming cryptocurrency mining industry a... Confiscated and she has no intention of stopping my job to pursue my true passion, ” laments Kharrazzi cryptocurrency!

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