Iranian Singer Cancels Concert After Female Players Banned from Stage

Benyamin Bahadori – an Iranian pop singer, composer and songwriter – has refused to perform at a concert in Kerman, capital of Kerman Province, after female members of his music group were prevented from appearing on stage.

Mojgan Abolfathi
Photograph: Mats Einarsson/Sveriges Radio
Negin Parsa

The concert was scheduled for January 25 at Kerman’s Hezar Automobile Company Complex. But Bahadori canceled the performance after the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued an order banning band members Negin Parsa and Mojgan Abolfathi from appearing on stage.

“They had invited the entire eight-member group to perform. But a day before the concert, it was suddenly decided that the two female musicians shouldn’t perform alongside their fellow male band members,” Bahadori wrote in a tweet. He added: “It is better if we cancel the whole thing.”

He said: “We canceled the performance as a sign of respect for our fellow female band members. And we’ll do it again.”

Negin Parsa plays the guitar and sings. Mojgan Abolfathi plays the percussion and the daf.

This is not the first time that a female musician has been prevented from performing on stage. Iranian cellist Melanie Avanessian was preventing from appearing with her brother, the drummer Steve Avanessian, and Bahadori at a concert last December. On January 12, female cello, flute, violin and daf players of the Isfahan National Orchestra were prohibited from accompanying the classical singer Salar Aghili at a concert in that city.

Meanwhile, Seyyed Abbas Salehi, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said he had issued a directive allowing female musicians to perform on stage without any restrictions. But the government currently doesn’t issue any licenses for public concerts, not even at universities. Tehran is currently the only city in Iran that allows women musicians to perform on stage.