Iranian singer Hamid Askari and his band performed a concert on January 30 in Milad Tower Music, a well-known venue in Tehran. However, they won’t be performing again soon. After that concert, Askari’s music was banned by Iran’s religious authorities because he let his female guitarist, Negin Parsa, sing a solo at the end of a song. In Iran, women don’t have the right to sing alone.
This video, which was posted on Instagram, shows the end of the song in question, during which Parsa sang alone for 12 seconds.
This video was filmed by someone in the audience and then posted to Instagram.
By Iranian law, which is based on Islam’s sharia law, women are only allowed to sing in front of other women. If there are men in the audience, a woman can sing with other men, either in a duet or a group, but she isn’t allowed to sing solo.
During major concerts in the country, a supervisor from the ministry of culture makes sure that this law is upheld. That was the case during Askari’s concert. Right after Parsa sang, her microphone was taken away. In the video below, you can see that Parsa no longer has a microphone in front of her.
An audience member filmed this video and posted it to Instagram.
The story might have stopped there but, instead, Askari decided to fight back. He invited Parsa to share his microphone and join him in singing another song.
Photos taken during the concert show Askari sharing his microphone with Parsa.
Then, when time came for Askari to introduce his band to the audience, he said (about Parsa): “We had her voice and, now, we no longer do – we hope that it will come back!”
As a result of this incident, on February 3, Iran’s ministry of culture announced that Askari and his band were censored until further notice. They are no longer allowed to broadcast their music or give concerts. On Instagram, Parsa said she wasn’t deterred and that she was sure that she would obtain the right to play music again as that is what is “most important” to her.
A similar incident in early January
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Iran. On January 8, Ali Ghamsari, an extremely popular traditional musician, was also banned after a woman sang during one of his concerts. Eighteen seconds into a video of the performance, you can hear that the female singer’s microphone was cut.
Video filmed during an Ali Ghamsari concert. At 0’18, the female singer’s voice becomes much harder to hear because her microphone was cut.
Ghamsari said later that he was given warnings by the authorities, who said he’d be censored if he let the female singer perform solo. However, Ghamsari and his band decided that they “wouldn’t sell [their] convictions”.
First published here on France24.