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Rock music by women motorcyclists: the rejection in the most sacred city in Iran

For Iranian rock singer Pooyan Ghandi, the roar of the crowd and the excitement of doing so are just a dream come true.

A 34-year-old boy lives in the religious city of Mashhad where concerts have been banned for more than a decade. Courageous people in a theocratic country have said they oppose Islamic teachings.

While these restrictions are a must anywhere in Iran and in Tehran it is possible to see loud music, Ghandi and singers like him in the most holy city in Iran spend their days making songs that are impossible to sing for the band.

“There are many like me in Mashhad who sit in their room and work with one computer, download their music and put it on the listening platform,” Ghandi said from his studio at his home.

“Music in Mashhad has changed [a symbol of] muscle instability “among reformers and the elite, he added.” It is not based on religious beliefs because it calls for prayer and music. Singing the Koran and hymns. “

With the assassination of President Hassan Rouhani two years later, activists hope to protect the president during a June 18 investigation. Three of the seven, including frontrunner Ebrahim Raisi, left Mashhad, home to the world’s largest temple. Iran where the eighth Shia Muslim Imam, Reza, was buried, as well as a place of refuge for the insurgents.

If this is what Mashhad’s experience is like, the President’s victory could show a great deal of social and cultural oppression. His father-in-law, a leader in Mashhad, is one of the country’s most controversial religious leaders. Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, 76, has banned concerts in Mashhad and said women do not have the right to ride bicycles in the city. Ayatollah also expressed concern that some Iranian women are more likely to present themselves to Sophia Loren than Fatemeh, the daughter of Prophet Mohammad.

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

Finally, when the President ran for president four years ago, there were rumors, jokes, that he had built walls in the streets to separate men and women. “The president has monitored the cultural dimension in line with Islamic traditions,” said Hamid-Reza Taraghi, a senior politician at Mashhad, speaking out at concerts that promote western culture and allow men and women to dance together. This month his daughter said on television that her father had performed a female role at the Mashhad temple. They say, he says, “build bridges” for men and women and not for walls.

But despite the President’s attempts to imitate his in-laws’ actions, investigators say Mashhad’s experience is clearly a challenge to follow even in these most cautious cities.

Despite religious restrictions, women still see bicycles. Cafés that play Western music were opened. Young women dress well and have headbands sometimes on their shoulders. Private parties are common. The main difference with other major cities, experts say, is that if you are arrested for alcoholism you will no doubt be punished with whips.

“The brave, if elected, can try to impose more cultural restrictions but it is very difficult for them to return to Iran in the pre-internet, pre-Instagram era,” Majid Fouladiyan, professor of sociology at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad.

Strong sanctions on Mashhad would have anything to do with inciting the city’s protests, he said, among other things. Mashhad now has one of the best studios in the country, says Ali Alavi, editor of the Khorasan newspaper, a Mashhad shopping mall. He added: “More than 40 years of rule show that the declared principles cannot be [necessarily] he is using force. ”

For many Iranians, the main concern is not culture or culture but wealth. “We have one of the largest financial institutions in the world in Mashhad [affiliated to the shrine] but there are people who eat bread and tomato in this city, ”says one expert.

With sanctions leading to economic hardship and frustration, the poor could become a major threat to the Islamic Republic, “perhaps a threat,” the expert said. The first protests against the economic crisis took place in 2017 and started in Mashhad, where there are 3m people, and “we can see signs of rising starvation and homelessness here one-third of Mashhad is living in poverty”, he said.

The eighth Shia Muslim Imam, Reza, is buried
Temple of the eighth Shia Muslim Imam, Reza, buried © Najmeh Bozorgmehr / FT

For many in Mashhad, the frustration has prompted them to start voting. “I will not vote again. I haven’t been able to save money for the last four years, ”said Reza, a 37-year-old store clerk. “Supervisors are weak and strong or strong and weak. Why should I be deceived? ”

Some voters also doubt that perseverance controls constituencies. For Cyrus Milani, a musician and singer from Mashhad who, like Ghandi who also works at home, it is difficult to justify Iran’s cooperation with Syria and Palestine “where they have concert concerts” yet concerts are banned at home. “I’m very frustrated and have little money but I can’t do anything but make my own music,” he said. “This is the first year that I don’t know who the candidate is and he has no voting ideas.”

Other points are also important, people in Mashhad say, not to mention social issues and justice. Near Ghandi’s residence, a 33-room dormitory is being built by a 30-year-old politician, officials said. English-language billboards indicate that the building will have billiards and banquet halls as well as restaurants.

For Ghandi, a lack of funding and restrictions on his work have affected his skills.

“We could have gone beyond our dreams. If we had helped to promote people’s music, fun and genre, ”he added. “Now we see what’s happened to the music, it’s happening again with bread and butter. Price [Iran] poorly maintained, first pages [music] the drop then approaches near the roots. ”

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