Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

2 September 2016

amir tataloo
Authorities arrested Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) on 23 August 2016 on charges of “spreading depravity among the youth” brought up in an 8 August 2016 judicial order, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 25 August 2016.

“Sadly, this latest imprisonment of Amir Tataloo is not an isolated case. Iranian governmental and religious authorities have for years used a variety of laws and moral stances, religious or otherwise, to silence artists,” Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov said.

“Freemuse calls for the immediate release of Amir Tataloo and to drop all charges against him. We also call for a serious overhaul of the country’s legal and cultural practices that limit its people’s right to artistic expression and the right to take part in cultural life as stressed by The  UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”

Tataloo was apprehended by plainclothes officers in Tehran and an Iranian court prolonged his detention the following day.

Copy of judicial order shared on Instagram by supporters of Amir Tataloo.
Copy of judicial order shared on Instagram by supporters of Amir Tataloo.

Unlicensed artists and foreign channels
Though Tataloo has a strong following, he remains an unlicensed artist in Iran, meaning his music cannot be aired on official radio or TV stations, performed in public, or even be recorded. Artists in Iran need to be approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to legally perform and produce their art, as well as have their work aired on government media stations.

This is not the first time the artist has been arrested. In 2013 Tataloo was arrested for producing music in Iran and airing it on foreign satellite television channels abroad: a common practice for many unlicensed Iranian artists, and a common charge the government uses to crack down on artists.

In June 2016 musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, were sentenced and imprisoned for three years for producing and promoting underground music that the state deemed as “propaganda against the state”, which also “insulted the sacred”. They remain in prison despite an international outcry for their freedom and having their charges dropped, including from the United Nations’ special rapporteurs on cultural diversity and freedom of expression.

Also in June 2016 eight music video producers were arrested because their “obscene” videos were being “broadcast on a famous anti-revolutionary television channel” outside Iran.

Earlier in January 2016 singer Salar Aghili was banned from performing on television and in a festival because he appeared on a Persian-language satellite channel based in London while on his European tour.

Further, in October 2015, the Intelligence Ministry made a sweeping ban on 26 popular musicians from performing in Iran because their music was aired by networks abroad.

Photo: Artist’s Facebook page


» Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – 25 August 2016:
Iranian fans take to social media to demand rapper’s release

» Iran Wire – 24 August 2016:
Authorities arrest popular singer Amir Tataloo

More from Freemuse

» 24 June 2016: UN: “Artistic expression is not a crime” – Special Rapporteurs urge the Iranian government to free jailed artists

» 8 June 2016: Iran: Eight producers arrested for “obscene” music videos

» 7 June 2016: Iran: Musician and filmmaker imprisoned

» 28 January 2016: Iran: Singer banned from tv and festival

» 4 November 2015: Iran: 26 popular singers banned from performing

» 4 December 2013: Iran: Popular rapper arrested by Morality Police

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