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Iran’s Culture Minister Says Music Promotion Not Regime Policy

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Iran’s Culture Minister stated on Thursday that music and musical works cannot be promoted, given the opposition of the clerical government that creates “constraints.”

Speaking about balance between the pressures from the clerics and the growing demand for diverse cultural expressions, Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili emphasized the need for governmental decisions amidst conflicting interests.

“On one hand, we face pressure from the religious community, and on the other hand, we witness the taste and eagerness for new and innovative fields, and in the position of governance, we must decide.”

“In no upstream document of the Islamic Republic of Iran after 45 years has there been any discussion about music,” he added.

The remarks come against the backdrop of ongoing tensions between fundamentalist religious factions and proponents of cultural diversity. Since the 1979 Revolution, pop music has been labeled as “haram” or forbidden, leading to a flourishing underground music scene and a penchant for foreign-based artists among Iranian music enthusiasts.

Despite restrictions on performances within the country, Iranian fans display remarkable enthusiasm for concerts by their favorite diaspora singers, often traveling abroad to attend. The trend has created a global community of Iranian music aficionados, with foreign-based artists overshadowing their domestic counterparts in popularity.

Moreover, concerts by Iranian expatriates serve as platforms for amplifying the voices of Iranian protesters, garnering international attention and support. However, Iranian state-run media has consistently criticized the artists, accusing them of exploiting popular protests for personal gain.