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Hundreds Of Musicians Protest Licensed Concerts Ban

Iranian musicians monthly gathering in Tehran on January 15, 2017.

Several hundred Iranian musicians gathered at Tehran’s House of Music on August 2 to protest against what they called a new wave of illegal cancellations of licensed and scheduled concerts.

The House of Music is a union for musicians and workers active in Iran’s music industry.

A letter signed by nearly 500 virtuosos and musicians was read which called on the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry to confront those responsible for banning and canceling licensed concerts.

In their open letter, the musicians accuse anti-concert figures of “disturbing public law and order” and saying they deserved to be prosecuted.

“Lately, we have witnessed the repeated arbitrary cancellation of licensed concerts by some irresponsible persons and organs, as well as by some employees of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry offices in cities,” the letter said. “These politically motivated cancellations, while used as an instrument to put the government under pressure, are a heavy burden on musicians’ shoulder.”

Furthermore, the letter calls for launching a special fund to compensate the losses borne by musicians after concerts are canceled.

The controversy started last year in Mashhad, the capital city of Razavi Khorasan Province.

The shrine of the eighth Shi’ite imam, Imam Reza, is located in Mashhad and is considered the holiest Shi’ite city in Iran.

Last year, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in Razavi Khorasan, ultra-conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, said he was opposed any concert taking place in Mashhad.

“Those who support concerts in Mashhad should leave the city,” he said.

Later, he went further by saying, “I am against holding concerts anywhere in Iran.”

Immediately, several other representatives of the supreme leader and Friday Prayer leaders echoed al-Hoda’s comments and raised their voices against concerts in their realms of influence.

While the government stood idly by, the clergy’s opposition led to the cancellation of many concerts licensed by Rouhani’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry.

While the government stood idly by, the clergy’s opposition led to the cancellation of many concerts licensed by Rouhani’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry.

The recent cancellation of a licensed concert by Iranian traditional singer Shahram Nazeri and his son, Hafiz, in the Razavi Khorasan city of Ghouchan, made headlines and was widely criticized on social media.

On July 29, a day after the cancellation, Shahram Nazeri was hospitalized in Ghouchan after suffering from fatigue and a nervous breakdown.

The concert was expected to take place at Ghouchan’s labor sports arena, but the city’s prosecutor general, Ramazan Ali Azari, canceled it and sealed off the venue.

“The concert was called off for its venue not being suitable and the dignity of men of arts and the people of Ghouchan were not accounted for in its schedule,” Azari told the official news website IRNA.

Outspoken Tehran MP Ali Motahari has urged Shahram Nazeri and the ministry to sue Azari for financial and psychological damages suffered by the musicians and the people of Ghouchan due to his arbitrary decision.

So far, Rouhani’s administration has shown no willingness to resist the ayatollahs and the judiciary who blatantly ignore licenses issued by the government and cancel one concert after another.

Moreover, the government has practically relented to al-Hoda’s wishes by refraining from issuing concert licenses for Mashhad.