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Rock Music and Female Cyclist: Resistance in Iran’s Most Sacred Cities

For Iranian rock musician Pooyan Gandhi, the roar of the crowd and the thrill of live performances can only be dreamed of by him.

34-year-old Mashhad lives in a religious city where concerts have been banned for more than a decade after hardliners of theocracy argued against Islamic teachings.

Such restrictions are rare in other parts of Iran and in Tehran, but live music can be seen, but in Iran’s most holy city Gandhi and musicians like him are unlikely to play in the crowd. I spend my days composing music.

“There are a lot of people in Mashad like me sitting in my room, working on one computer, uploading music and posting it to an audio streaming platform,” Gandhi said from his home studio. ..

“Mashad’s music [a symbol of] Muscle flexion between reformers and hardliners, “he added. “Because the call for prayer is music, it is not rooted in religious beliefs. Reciting the Quran is music.”

Hardliners hope to secure a presidency in a poll on June 18, as centrist President Hassan Rouhani will resign after two terms. Three of the seven candidates, including front runner Ebrahim Raisi, have roots in Mashad, the home of Iran’s largest shrine, where Reza, the eighth Shiite Muslim imam, is buried. Islam.

Whatever Mashhad’s experience, Raishi’s victory can suggest greater social and cultural repression. Raishi’s father-in-law, a leading figure in Mashad, is one of the most controversial priests in the country. Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, 76, has banned concerts in Mashad and states that women do not have the right to ride a bicycle in the city. Ayatollah had previously expressed concern that some Iranian women were more likely to be modeled on Sophia Loren than Fatemé, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

Rock musician Pooyan Ghandi lives in a city where concerts have been banned for over a decade © Najmeh Bozorgmehr / FT

When Raishi last ran for president four years ago, he was jokingly rumored to build a wall on the pavement to separate men and women. “Raishi manages the cultural sector based on Islamic values,” said Hamid Reza Taragi, a hard-line politician in Mashad, promoting Western values ​​and allowing men and women to dance together. He expressed his opposition to the concert that enabled him. This month, his daughter told state television that her father had created a women-only section at Mashad Shrine. She said he would build a “bridge” for men and women, not walls.

But even as Raishi tries to recreate his father-in-law’s plans, analysts say Mashhad’s experience reveals the difficulty of ensuring compliance even in this most conservative city.

Despite the religious ban, women can still see cycling. A cafe for recording Western music has opened. Young women are dressed in fashion and may wear mandatory head scarves on their shoulders. Private parties are common. According to analysts, the main difference from other big cities is that if you are arrested for drinking, you are almost certain to be sentenced to whipping.

Majid Houradyan, a professor of cultural sociology at Ferdowsi University in Mashad, said, “If a hardliner is elected, we may try to impose more restrictions on the cultural sector, but Iranians are before the Internet and before Instagram. It’s very difficult to get back to that era. ” ..

He said that the stricter restrictions in Mashad fostered the identity of the city’s resistance, a view echoed by others. Ali Arabi, editor of the Khorasan daily newspaper, a conservative outlet in Mashad, states that Mashad currently has one of the most private music studios in the country. He added: “The decision of more than 40 years is based on the announced policy. [necessarily] It was forcibly implemented. ”

For most ordinary Iranians, the main concern is the economy, not the moral or social issues. “Mashad has the largest economic cartel in the world. [affiliated to the shrine] But there are people in the city who eat bread with tomato paste, “said an analyst.

With sanctions hitting the economy and disillusionment prevailing, poor people can still pose the greatest threat to Islamic republic, “probably even an existential threat,” analysts said. The first riots against financial difficulties began in 2017 in Mashad, a population of 3 meters. “Since one-third of Mashad’s population lives in poor suburbs, we can see signs of an uprising of hungry barefoot people here,” he said.

Reza, the eighth Shiite Muslim imam, was buried
Reza’s Shrine, the eighth Shiite Muslim imam buried in the city © Najmeh Bozorgmehr / FT

For many in Mashad, this disillusionment is reluctant to vote. “I’m not going to vote again. I haven’t been able to save a penny over the last four years,” said Reza, a 37-year-old grocery store owner. “Managers are weak and strong, or strong and helpless. Why do I make a fool of myself?”

Yet other voters have questioned the hardliners’ focus on regional policy. For Gandhi-loving Mahatma singer and musician Cyrus Mirani, it’s difficult to rationalize Iran’s support for “live concerts” in Syria and Palestine, but concerts at home are banned. “I’m very upset and have little income, but I can’t do anything but make music,” he said. “This is the first year I don’t know who is running for president and I have no plans to vote.”

The people of Mashad say that other values ​​are also important. In particular, the potential for public affairs and fairness is important. Not far from where Gandhi lives, field workers said a 33-story residential block was under construction by a politically connected man in his thirties. English signs suggest that the building has billiards, a banquet hall, and a spa.

For Gandhi, lack of income and performance limitations affected his creativity.

“We could have achieved beyond our dreams. We could have helped people promote their musical tastes, performances and quality of music,” he added. .. “Now you can see what’s happening in music and what’s happening in bread and butter. [Iran] Not well cared for, leaves first [music] Drop it to get closer to its roots. “

Rock Music and Female Cyclist: Resistance in Iran’s Most Sacred Cities

Source link Rock Music and Female Cyclist: Resistance in Iran’s Most Sacred Cities

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