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Politicians Criticize Banning Of Concerts

Iranian female members of parliament including Parvaneh Salahshouri (top right) in a session of parliament, undated.

A reformist MP and an outspoken conservative have vociferously complained against a prosecutor-general’s decision to cancel maestro Shahram Nazeri’s concert in city of Ghouchan, in Khaorasan Razavi, northeast of Iran.

Parvaneh Salahshouri, a sociologist and representative of Tehran in parliament called the decision as “unbecoming” and asserted on Saturday, July 29, “There is no law that allows prosecutors to interfere in holding of concerts.”

The concert under the banner of Avaz-i Parsi or Persian Song was expected to take place on last Friday at Ghouchan’s labor sports arena but the city’s Prosecutor-General, Ramazan Ali Azari cancelled it.

In an interview with parliament's official website (Khane-ye Mellat), the reformist MP blasted prosecutors for their meddling in governmental and executive matters, “These interferences are used as instruments for showing the power of a particular clique”.

Furthermore, Ms. Salahshouri lamented, “Sadly, giving interviews and taking positions [against judiciary’s interference in executive matters] have lost their effective impact and whatever we say is useless.”

According to Ghouchan’s Prosecutor-Geeneral, Shahram Nazeri and his son’s scheduled concert was called off for its venue was not suitable. Moreover, the dignity of men of arts and people of Ghouchan were not accounted for in its schedule”.

One day later, Azari added “insecurity” of the sports arena, where the concert was scheduled to take place, to the reasons for the cancellation.

However, Azari cancelled the concert at a time that the city and provincial offices of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance had already assured that the concert will go ahead as scheduled.

Meanwhile, a notorious ultra conservative figure, Abbas Salimi Namin has also joined the chorus against arbitrarily cancelling licensed concerts by the judiciary.

“Is it in the job description of a judge or prosecutor to see whether a concert venue is apt for performing arts, or not?” Salami Namin demanded in a note.

Referring to previous concerts cancelled in Khorasan Razavi Province, Salimi Namin wrote, “judicial authorities have to investigate the recent case [cancellation in Ghouchan] and see whether it is related to personal comments of an official who believes the sanctuary of Imam Reza’s Shrine (Shi’ites most sacred place inside Iran) covers the whole province?”

By “an official”, Salimi was referring to the Supreme Leader’s representative in Khorassan Razavi, ultra conservative ayatollah Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, who has explicitly declared that he is absolutely against any concert taking place anywhere in Iran, let alone in Mashhad, where Imam Reza’s shrine is located.

Alam al-Hoda’s opposition led to cancellation of many concerts licensed by Rouhani’s ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

Repeated concert cancellations during Hassan Rouhani’s presidency have turned into an instrument for government conservative opponents to pressure him.

Rouhani has repeatedly voiced his dissatisfaction with the cancellation of concerts.

Nevertheless, he has not taken a tangible step towards ending the interference of non-executive officials and organs in government's sphere of authority.