1990s Middle East, North Africa

1 January 2001

1990s. Algeria. Souad Massi
Souad Massi was threatened and censored for her political stance in her native country. Now she makes music from her self-imposed exile in Paris continuing the fight for the rights of women and Berber in Algeria.

1994. Iran. Marzieh
A sharp voice of political dissent and known as Iran’s top woman singer, Marzieh was a celebrated interpreter of traditional Persian music whose career in her native Iran was silenced by the clerical dictatorship. At 69, Marzieh opted for a life in exile after 15 years of silence since the Islamic revolution brought an end to her concerts. Marzieh began her public singing career in 1942 and quickly became the first Iranian woman to have her own radio programme. She defected to France in 1994 where she died of cancer, 86 years old, in 2010.
Read more on and Wikipedia

1994. Algeria. Cheb Hasni
The 26-year-old raï star Cheb Hasni was gunned down outside his home in Oran in 1994. Cheb Hasni (born Hasni Chakroun) had had a profound effect on the evolution of Raï, Algeria’s popular dance music, and his murder transformed the Raï scene into a protest movement. Strongly opposed by Algeria’s oppressive military regime during the civil war that swept through Algeria, Hasni’s songs, which advocated open expression of love, had been previously banned by Algeria’s national censorship board. He left behind more than four hundred song titles, recorded during the intense six years of his carreer. During the government’s 1990-92 ban on concerts, Hasni recorded extensively, bringing his total to over 80 cassettes in six years, and selling up to 400,000 copies of each. His song ‘Matoub Lounes’ became a symbol of liberty and resistance to the oppression.

1995. Algeria. Rachid Baba-Ahmed
The following year, on 15 February 1995, producer Rachid Baba-Ahmed, another leading figure in the Raï world, was assassinated in Oran.

1996. Egypt. Heavy Metal
In 1996, Egyptian authorities branded all heavy metal musicians and fans as ‘Satanists’. Dozens of young heavy metal fans were arrested, charged with contempt for religion, and heavy metal concerts were banned. Egypt. At the time when the government mounted the crackdown, Heavy Metal was allegedly the fastest growing music scene in Egypt.
Restrictions have eased over time since then, and bands have quietly performed to small gatherings over the years. In 2006, the public performance of Egyptian metal band Wyvern to a crowd of almost 15,000 people at the SOS festival was regarded a breakthrough in this respect.
Source: BBC News

1998. Algeria. Matoub Lounès
The legendary Berber singer Matoub Lounès was assasinated.
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Winter 1998. Iran. Hengameh Akhavan
A concert scheduled in spring 1998 on Bahar was strategically corrupted by the officials, so it had to be postponed. Reason: it was a special women’s concert
Source: Hengameh Akhavan: ‘Silent Spring’, in Index of Censorship’s ‘Smashed Hits’ Volume 27, 6/1998, p.130-132



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