Qazvin University Bars Women Musicians from Performing at Charity Event

May 23, 2019 – The president of Qazvin’s Islamic Azad University Morteza Mousakhani barred female members of the “Pathetique” string orchestra from appearing on stage during a scheduled charity concert on May 21, Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported, citing Ahmad Shokri, the concert producer.

“The university did not even allow female musicians to sit with the audience, which prompted other members of the orchestra to leave the auditorium in protest,” Mr. Shokri said. “This is the largest charity event in [the northwestern province of] Qazvin. The mayor and members of Qazvin City Council were at the concert.”

Shokri added: “Pathetique is the most prominent Iranian classical music group in Qazvin. They were giving a free concert at the charity event.”

While the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s guideline does not ban women musicians from performing on stage, it prohibits solo female artists from recording or giving public concerts. It only allows them to 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 woman solo singer in their concerts.

Iranian authorities banned tar virtuoso, songwriter and singer Ali Ghamsari from recording and performing in public after he accompanied solo artist Haleh Seyfizadeh in a concert on January 8 at Vahdat Hall (former Roudaki Concert Hall.)

In a similar incident, authorities banned Iranian pop 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’s Milad Tower Music.

There has been a marked increase in the number of performing artists, particularly musicians, who have been censored and banned from working by authorities. On January 9, Iran’s Attorney-General Mohammad Jaffar Montazeri said: “We would not caution artists if they operated inside the acceptable creative parameters. They should not cross the red line. We would even defend their rights if they were to work within limits set by God.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]