Iran Has Banned 52 Women Musicians from Performing Since January 


The Iranian authorities have banned the cellist Elmira Nematzadeh and the daf player Negar Ezazi, two female members of the music band Hamnavazan Hesar, from accompanying the tar virtuoso, songwriter and singer Ali Ghamsari on stage in a scheduled concert at the Arasbaran Cultural Center in Tehran on August 5.

“They stopped them from performing last night,” Mr. Ghamsari tweeted. “This is the first time I feel so tired that I cannot write anymore. These concerts will most likely cause my bitter departure from Iran. I apologize to all of you.”

While the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s guidelines allow women musicians to perform on stage, they prohibit solo female artists from recording or giving public concerts. They can only perform for all-women audiences in Tehran and a few other cities.

In recent years, there have been many instances of musical groups being penalized and banned for including a female solo vocalist in their concerts.

In January, the Iranian authorities banned Ghamsari from recording and performing in public after he accompanied soloist Haleh Seyfizadeh in a concert at the Vahdat Hall (the former Roudaki Concert Hall.)

According to Bahman Babazadeh, an arts and culture reporter, the authorities have summoned, questions and banned 52 women musicians and solo singers from recording and performing since January.

Mr. Babazadeh tweeted: “Ever since a solo performance by Negin Parsa at Hamid Askari’s concert took place in January, a security agency has interrogated 52 female musicians and banned them from performing in public.”

Authorities banned singer Hamid Askari from playing in public after he allowed his lead female guitarist Negin Parsa to perform a solo song at the end of their concert on January 30 at Tehran Milad Tower Music.

Most recently, security agents arrested singer Negar Moazzam after she posted a video clip on her Instagram page on May 17 which showed her performing a traditional Iranian song for a group of tourists in the village of Abyaneh in the central province of Isfahan. According to unconfirmed reports she has since moved to Turkey.

Four days later, the president of the Qazvin Islamic Azad University, Morteza Mousakhani, barred female members of the Pathetique string orchestra from appearing on stage during a scheduled charity concert.

Authorities also banned female musicians from performing in concerts by Iranian singers Benyamin Bahadori and Salar Aghili, respectively, in 2016 and 2017.


[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]

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