Iran: About 230 people arrested during a ‘satanistic’ music event

7 August 2007

The news agency Reuters reports that more than 200 people were arrested during a police raid on an underground rap and rock concert in Iran. The raid was a part of an annual summer crackdown on “immoral behavior”. In Iran, alcohol as well as parties mixing unrelated men and women dancing and drinking together are illegal.

By Kristina Funkeson, Freemuse

The event, part of the large underground Iranian rock scene, took place in the evening on 1 August 2007  in the district Mohammadshahr in the city Karaj, 12 miles west of the capital Teheran. Local DJs as well as rock and rap groups and female singers were performing and there was a bar. Invitations had been sent out via the Internet and the exact location of the event was kept secret until only a couple of hours before it started. A witness informed the pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat that the police raided the concert late at night as it was about to end.

“Obscene” and “inappropriate”
According to Reuters, Karaj’s public prosecutor said that apart from arresting about 230 people, the police confiscated 150 bottles of alcoholic drinks, 800 “obscene” CDs as well as “inappropriate” dresses for women. This was also the case with 20 video cameras that were seized because the police suspected that they were going to be used to film “obscene” videos that could later be used to blackmail the girls appearing in the videos.

Foreign citizens among the arrested
According to Asharq Alawsat a female singer and some rock and rap music bands were among the detained. A senior police official said that the main part of the arrested audience was young and wealthy: “[They] came to this party with the goal of attending a provocative, satanistic concert”, he told the Iranian newspaper Teheran-e Emrouz according to Reuters.

Reuters reports that there were people from Sweden and Britain among those held in custody. But since the Iranian regime does not recognize double citizenship, the authorities are not obliged to give any information to the Swedish and British governments, writes the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Therefore it is not known exactly what happened during the police raid.

According to Svenska Dagbladet, the foreign citizens who attended the event were children to exile-Iranians returning to Iran for the summer vacation. Many of them are children to those who fled during the war against Iraq and they are used to more open communities.

Campaign against “immoral behavior
Concerts without permission and women singing in front of a male audience has been forbidden since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The revolution brought Shiite Muslim clerics to power, and the Islamic law, Sharia, was imposed on Iranian citizens.

Since about four months the Islamic regime pursues a “social security” campaign against what is called “immoral behavior”. The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports that the police are targeting women wearing “inappropriate clothes”. They are approached by the police and advised to wear a longer coat or to cover their hair better. If they are lucky they can go with a warning, but often they are brought to the police station and are forced to sign an agreement not to repeat their behavior. According to the Guardian, the authorities doubled the police officers in moral patrols during the last months. They are instructed to arrest young men with “western” hairstyles, who are only released after giving the names of their barbers and having signed a commitment to change their hair-cuts.

According to Dagens Nyheter it was in April 2007 that the regime started the first phase to “increase public safety”. Conservative people are approving of the campaign, but more critical voices are of the opinion that the authorities should deal with more urgent problems such as poverty and crimes rather than the citizens’ choice of clothes.

Satanic or merely unislamic?
The Swedish-Iranian freelance journalist Nima Daryamadj said to Svenska Dagbladet that most people in Iran are progressive: “[They] like to dress up, drink alcohol, go to parties and have sex. But they are not allowed to, because of the regime.”

Daryamadj writes on his blog Nordic Dervish that there are a lot of rock, metal and hip hop groups in Iran and that the music scene is surprisingly vivid considering the harsh situation for musicians.

Iranian authorities claim that the music event was satanic, but Daryamadj does not at all believe that this was the real reason: “Hard rock groups do flirt with Satanism, just like a funny thing, maybe it has been misinterpreted. But most often the regime is using these words on things they consider immoral or unislamic. For example, they use to refer to USA as the great Satan.”

According the Guardian, the idea that the US is trying to topple the Islamic regime through a “soft revolution” is one of the reasons why the “social security” campaign has hit the Iranian citizens so hard this year.

Released on bail
Asharq Alawsat reports that most of the people arrested at the music event were released on bail Saturday and Sunday. If any of the charged is found guilty of having broken the Islamic law, they risk punishments such as whipping, fines or jail, reports Svenska Dagbladet.

Kave, an Iranian rock musician, informed Daryamadj that some of his friends attended the event. They were arrested but let out on bail after their friends and relatives had vouched for them. Kave said that the media distorts the truth: “‘Satanic concert’? I don’t understand what neither ‘Vahid DJ’ nor that rap group have to do with Satanism!”

Important reminder
Daryamadj thinks that this incident is an important reminder of the reality of the Iranian regime. But at the same time he hopes that this will not increase people’s prejudice of Iran and the Middle East. He wants to highlight the country’s underground music scene as another example of what Iran and its citizens are.




Links to Iranian metal bands

Nordic Dervish – the blog of Nima Daryamadj:
‘Persian metal’

Asharq Alawsat – 6 August 2007:

‘Iran Arrests Youth at ‘Satanic’ Concert’

The Guardian – 6 August 2007:

‘Iranian morals police arrest 230 in raid on ‘satanist’ rave’

Reuters – 4 August 2007:

‘Iran detains scores at “satanic” rock gig: media’

Dagens Nyheter – 6 August 2007:

‘UD avslutar
Home / News / Iran: About 230 people arrested during a ‘satanistic’ music event