29 May 2015

Iran hardliners crack down on freedom of speech

When Iranian pop star Mehdi Ahmadvand announced he would be playing two nights in the small south-western town of Mahshahr in May there was palpable excitement.

Tickets for the 1,000-seat concert venue were snapped up fast.

Happy fans posted messages on Mr Ahmadvand's Facebook page saying how much they were looking forward to him coming.

But then a local imam got wind of the plans and issued a blistering condemnation in his Friday prayer sermon.

It was not Mr Ahmadvand's brand of kitschy Persian pop that the imam was objecting to.

It was the fact that the event was open to men and women, and that female musicians would be performing in his backing band.

Although both of these things are allowed in Iran, and the concert organisers had the necessary official permission, the imam said the event would undermine Islamic values. [BBC] Read more