Iran Bans Western Music on State Media

Iran Bars Western Music on State MediaLos Angeles Times

TEHRAN — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has barred all Western music from state radio and TV stations, partially reviving a ban imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when popular music was outlawed as un-Islamic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In recent years it had become common to hear hip-hop blaring from car radios in Tehran’s streets, and songs by Western pop stars such as Eric Clapton and the Eagles often accompanied Iranian broadcasts.

No more — the official Iran Daily reported Monday that Ahmadinejad, as head of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, enacted an October ruling by the council to ban all Western music, including classical, on state broadcasting outlets.

"Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required," the council’s website said.

After Khomeini’s 1979 anti-music decree, many musicians went abroad. Some built an Iranian music industry in Los Angeles.

But as revolutionary fervor started to fade, some light classical music was allowed on Iranian radio and television. Public concerts were held in the late 1980s. Since Khomeini’s death in 1989, pop music has been creeping into Iranian shops.

In the 1990s, particularly during the presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami starting in 1997, authorities relaxed restrictions further. These days, Western music, films and clothing are widely available in Iran. Bootleg videos and DVDs of films banned by the state are sold on the black market.

However, women are barred from singing in public except to all-female audiences. Hard-line Islamic conservatives fear that the voice of a woman soloist will arouse impure thoughts in men.

This month, Alexander Rahbari, conductor of Tehran’s symphony orchestra, resigned and left Iran to protest the treatment of the music industry here.

The ban applies to state-run radio and TV, but Iranians with satellite dishes can get broadcasts that originate abroad.