Decrescendo in Iran: Qum follows Mashad to ban concerts
Tehran, Iran, October 1
By Mehdi Sepahvand –- Trend:
The clergy in the holy city of Qum in Iran have called on the government to stop staging music concerts in the city, a few months after concerts were banned by the religious leadership in Mashad, Khorasan Razavi Province.
The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qum wrote a letter to the city’s Department of Culture censuring it for “disdainful and nonsensical act of holding a concert with its blatant, shameful sidelines… not befitting the status of the holy city,” ISNA news agency reported October 1.
“Attempt to narrow down culture and art to music will strike a big blow to the Islamic culture and religious values,” the letter read.
It concluded by saying, “We warn the officials that… such moves will not be in the best interest of them or of the country, but will damage their public stature.”
The issue of music concerts has showed up as a simmering battle between the government and far-right religious figures. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli recently decried the suspension of all music concerts in Khorasan Razavi Province by the Judiciary.
“We cannot prejudge the intentions [of musicians] and base decisions on the possibility that something will go wrong during all concerts. That would not be right,” the minister wrote in a letter to Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
On August 5 Khorasan Razavi’s Prosecutor Gholamali Sadeghi announced the cancelation of a concert by the popular traditional singer Salar Aghili in the city of Sabzevar and the suspension of all future concerts in the province “until the issue is looked at and a framework is set by the province’s cultural council.”
The closure, and many others in the past couple of years across the country, disregarded the fact that all the concerts had acquired the necessary permissions from related bodies.
The Khorasan closure followed controversial statements on May 29 by Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday prayer leader of Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi, who had said music concerts break the sanctity of the religious city.
“We must create the grounds to stop indecent and corrupt activities here… Don’t be afraid of the psychological wars instigated by a bunch of unrestrained individuals.”
Culture Ministry spokesperson Hossein Noushabadi on May 20 decried the concert cancellation and said there was a “coordinated current” aimed at stopping all concerts.
In the meantime, Khorasan Razavi’s Governor General Alireza Rashidian defended the musicians and their audience by saying, “If there’s a law that bans concerts in this province let us know…this contradictory situation cannot go on.”