Iran: New music censorship law

2 September 2011
Mohammad Mirzamani, the General Director of the Music Office in the Ministry of Culture in Tehran, told that a new music censorship law is being prepared by the ministry concerning how to receive permission for performing a concert or publishing a music album.

According to the new censorship law, music bands will no longer be allowed to have two concerts in the same day. Another new condition for giving permission for musicians to perform is that they shouldn’t make use of any love poems. Only poetry of ‘mystic poets’ such as Rumi will be allowed.

This was announced by Mohammad Mirzamani who also told that new statutes for how the State Censorship Board gives permissions to musicians will be announced soon.

Mohammad Mirzamani previously was Director of the Iranian Broadcasting Corporation’s Music Production.

Verses removed
The Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper wrote that “the state’s censors seek to reign in on cultural expression,” and that the famous Persian epic ‘Khosraw and Shirin’ by Nizami Ganjavi had some of its verses removed by Iranian officials.

The latest move by the Iranian Ministry of Culture to remove Sufi poetry from Iranian songs comes amid a three year surge by the censors to control Iranian art, reported al-Akhbar:

“The ban forces many groups to re-record their songs according to the new rules. Iranian artists see the decision as a reneging on prior licenses granted by the Iranian ministry of culture to music groups. They insist that the decision is the first step towards confining songs in Iran to litanies, prayers, and religious songs.

Sufi poetry enjoys the highest recognition in Iranian society and is a principle element at the heart of Iranian culture and collective subconscious. The poetry of the grand Persian Sufi poets, such as Hafez al-Shirazi and “Mawlana” Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, formed the basis of Iranian folk song for hundreds of years. In recent years, Iranian pop groups have developed music that draws on the Sufi tradition, while lacing it with modern rhythms.

Government officials do not believe the decision will restrict Iranian music, justifying their move with both moral and artistic arguments. While Iranian pop music combines the language of modern daily life and theological Sufi poetry, the soul of traditional Iranian song closely links Sufi poetry to spiritualism. Furthermore, traditional song is the principle vehicle for the spiritualism shared by different ethnic groups in Iran. Yet the merits of this music have not swayed Iranian officials to allow these theological elements to remain a part of cultural and artistic life.”


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al-Akhbar – 2 September 2011:

‘Iran’s Censor: Silencing Sufi Classics’ – 25 August 2011:

‘Love ‘is banned’ in Iran’

BBC News – 23 August 2011:

‘نخواندن اشعار عاشقانه؛ از شروط صدور مجوز اجرای مجدد کنسرتها’

“In addition to separate travel of men and women on subway and buses, they are still trying to introduce separate education of boys and girls at universities. On top of all, now here is a ban on love in music videos…”
Amir Mostafavi — in an article in 
Related reading on the Internet

Los Angeles Times – 21 August 2011:

‘How they rocked in Iran before the revolution’

“Though a vital rock ‘n’ roll and artistic underground exists in today’s Tehran, there are still heavy prices to pay for shredding on a Stratocaster. An artist can be arrested for performing music not in line with traditional Persian song structure, and women are no longer allowed to sing alone…”“When Khomeini took power in Iran in 1979 he prohibited pop music altogether. This is less harsh now, as they have allowed men to sing, but it has been a complete catastrophe for the Persians in general, and permanent damage has been done…”
Dario Margeli, Iranian expat who runs 
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