Iran: Female musicians targeted for their artistic expression

21 June 2019
Targeting and persecuting female artist has become a trend observed in Iran relating to religious regulations.
Image: Video screenshot from Negar Moazzam’s performance / zeynab.karimian on Twitter


Female musicians have been banned from playing during a charity concert held in Qazvin, Iran on 22 May 2019, reported Iran Human Rights Monitor.  

A traditional music band was planned to perform at a concert when the female musicians were prevented from entering the hall on the order of the president of the Azad University of Qazvin, Moussa Khani. The female musicians were further forbidden to sit amongst the audience to watch the concert.

This situation led the other musicians to leave the concert in protest.

Targeting and persecuting female artist has become a trend observed in Iran. According to religious regulations declared by Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi on his website, “All types of music and vocalizations performed for the purposes of pleasure and corruption are haram, whether performed by men or women.”

He further adds that “women can perform authorized songs only for their own gender.”

However, Center for Human Rights in Iran reported that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has governed that women can sing in public “if the intention is not pleasure.” 

This is not the first incident of female singers being silenced in Iran this month. According to Iran Human Rights Monitor, singer Negar Moazzam has been charged for singing solo as part of a sightseeing tour in the village of Abyaneh on 17 May 2019.

The chief prosecutor of Isfahan Province, Ali Esfahani, told the Tasnim news agency that, “the preliminary case regarding this incident has been filed upon the report of the intelligence police for public security and the Prosecutor of Natanz is following up on it.”

Moazzam uploaded a video depicting her performance on social media, where a wide audience including authorities and fans (Moazzam has around 180,000 followers on Instagram) were able to view it.

Negar Moazzam’s Instagram account has been taken down, and the content is no longer available.

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