1970-1989 Middle East, North Africa

1 January 2001

1978 til 2011. Libya. Various artists The 1970s saw two urban trends emerge in Libya, as well as the emergence of the country’s first modern female signers. All this diversity pretty much ended in the late 1970s. Gaddafi’s aggressive ideological dictates began to infiltrate all cultural production in Libya. The colonel’s insistence on music, and arts, of the people, in reality meant an insistence that all artists praise his rule and person.
As a result, many artists were sidelined or silenced. In their place emerged Gaddafi’s handpicked singer-composer, Muhammad Hassan, who in dress and manner bore a striking resemblance to the dictator he served.
Source: Khaled Mattawa, 2011: Libya’s Explosive Music Revolution

1979 til today. Iran. Fatemeh Vaezi
(known as Parisa), Faegheh Atashin (known as Googoosh), Sima Bina, Ghashang Kamkar, and more
Since the revolution and the establishing of an Islamic republic in Iran in 1979, women have not been allowed to perform, in particular not in front of a male audience.
The clerics outlawed all pre-revolutionary music. Hard-line clerics even said that music comes between the faithful and God and leads to ‘impure thoughts’, and that music therefore is incompatible with the Shiite school of Islam that rules Iran. Secular songs were banned as ‘un-Islamic’, and in the early 1980s, police stopped cars to check tape decks and smashed offending tapes.
Sources: Maryam Habibian, ‘Under wraps on the stage: women in the performing arts in post-revolutionary Iran’, 1998, Iran. WorldBeatPlanet, February 2002. International Herald Tribune

1980-2004. Libya and Mali. Tinariwen
Tinariwen are Tuareg tribesmen from the edge of the Sahara who play deep, spiritual desert blues. Tinariwen’s music was banned for years in Mali and neighboring countries. In the early 1980’s, severe drought drove the nomadic Tuareg into Libyan refugee camps, where they took up arms against the country’s military regime. It was here that Tinariwen formed. But local governments banned the rebel group’s political lyrics, and they remained underground until moving to the Malian capital of Bamako in 1999. Their album ‘The Radio Tisdas Sessions’ which was published in 2001, and ‘Amassakoul’ from 2004 have been banned in Algeria and Mali.

1987. Iraq. Kazem Al-Saher
كاظم الساهر – Kazem Al-Saher, born in Mosul in Iraq, is one of the best-selling singers in the Arab World, having sold more than 30 million albums since the start of his career.
With a television director friend, he made a video of one of his songs, ‘Ladghat El Hayya’ (‘The Snake Bite’), which was slipped into a broadcast on Iraqi television in 1987, just after the Iran-Iraq war. An allegory to his situation, it caused a major controversy, and the powers that ran television offered him a choice: change the lyrics or have it banned. He refused to change anything, but the banning only made the song more popular.



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