Mashhad’s Friday Imam has weighed into the debate about live music in Iran.
In recent months, some religious groups and clerics have called for concerts to be banned, especially in Iran’s holiest cities.
Friday Imam Ahmad Almolhoda said on April 14 that he opposes "concerts in the city of Mashhad, and not music itself.”
In a statement published on his official website, Almolhoda said the fact that Mashhad was home to 15 official music teaching centers and tolerated several other “illegal centers teaching music” proved that the city had “no problem with music itself.” But he said concerts should not be allowed to continue.
“I am not the one who decides,” he admitted in the statement. “This is the task of the representative of the Supreme Leader, who in this case has conceded this task to the head of public culture council of the city, i.e. the governor.”
The comments are the latest in a string of criticism of and protests against live music in Iran. In February, the supreme leader’s representative in Fars Province, Asadollah Imani, called for greater restrictions on music in Shiraz.
And in early March, a group of protesters lashed out against a concert by Alireza Ghorbani scheduled to take place at Azad Golbahar University in Mashhad. The group objected to “religiously unlawful” concerts, which they said had been promoted by “tyrants” devoid of any religious values.
On January 2, a concert by the band Lian was canceled in Bushehr, southwestern Iran, following protests by a group calling itself Hezbollah Umah. The group’s concert in Shiraz was also canceled. Another performance, by pop singer Sirvan Khosaravi, was also prevented from going ahead in Bushehr.
Speaking more broadly about the arts, Alamolhoda called for religiously-motivated artists to take a stand. “There are many motivated religious people active in all art fields,” Alamolhoda told Khorasan Razavi Province Art Seminary officials in a meeting. “But they are a minority compared to the dominant non-religious trend active in the House of Cinema, which includes scriptwriters, actors and directors”. He accused those involved in “non-religious” art production of keeping Mashhad’s arts facilities to themselves and not allowing all musicians and artists access to them. The religiously-minded minority must persist, he said, and “defend its social status to create resistance against the other dominant trend.” If they work hard to do this, he said, “I promise them that the future will belong to them.”
“Following the Revolution,” he said, “the quality of all arts improved significantly. Films produced about our holy defense during the war with Iraq are far better than flamboyant, expensive films made in Turkey.”
Read the original article in Persian