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Concerts Of Outspoken Iranian Pop Singer Banned For His Political Views

Mehdi Yarrahi, controversial Iranian pop singer who has been banned from performing. Screengrab from music video.

Mehdi Yarrahi, a pop singer, says the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry has banned him from holding concerts for the political views expressed in his recent concerts.

"I have been banned from working in my own country until further notice," Yarrahi said in an Instagram post on Friday.

In his concerts in Ahvaz on 13 and 14 December Yarrahi dedicated a song called "Delirium" to November protesters. He also criticized the Revolutionary Guard for creating feeling of insecurity in society and took a jab at President Rouhani for failing to uphold the law in protecting citizens.

Yarrahi also published a note on his Instagram page which has more than 500,000 followers after the Revolutionary Guard tried to hide its responsibility in shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8. In his note, he also voiced support for artists who have banned the state-sponsored Fajr Festival in support of anti-government protesters.

The 38-year-old pop singer who is a native of Ahvaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan Province, has been very vocal about his political views. His songs often express his critical views about Iran's religious and political establishment. In 2018 the state-run broadcaster banned him from its channels because in one his concerts he wore a worker's uniform in support of the 2018 labor protests in Khuzestan and a song titled "Pareh Sang" (Broken Stone).

Artists and writers in Iran need to get permits from the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry to exhibit, publish, or perform. The Ministry awarded Yarrahi as the "Best Pop Singer" in 2017 but his work has now become more thought-provoking to his audience and too provocative for the establishment to tolerate.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.