Rock music և female cyclists. Resistance in the holiest city of Iran

For Iranian rock musician Pooyan ndi andi, the noise of the crowd հ the excitement of a live performance are things he can only dream of.

The 34-year-old lives in the religious city of Mashhad, where concerts have been banned for more than a decade after the theocratic state claimed it was against Islamic teachings.

Although such restrictions are rare in Iran և Tehran, it is possible to see live music, Gha andin և musicians like him spend their days in the sacred city of Iran composing music that is unlikely to ever be played in front of a crowd.

“There are many people like me in Mashhad who sit in their rooms, work on a single computer, upload their music, and place it on audio streaming platforms,” ​​said Ndi from his family’s studio.

“Music has changed in Mashhad [a symbol of] “Muscle flexion” is among the “tough positions” of the reformers, he added. “It is not rooted in religious beliefs, because prayer is music. “Pronouncing Ran uranium is music.”

Central President Hassan Rouhani, who is set to step down after two terms in office, is said to be in a tough stance in a June 18 poll. Three of the seven candidates, including leader Ibrahim Rice, have their roots in Mashhad, home to Iran’s largest shrine, and bury the eighth Shiite imam, Reza, as a stronghold.

If Mashhad’s experience is to pass, Raisi’s victory could signal greater social and cultural repression. Raisi’s father-in-law, the leading figure in Mashhad, is one of the most controversial figures in the country. Ayatollah Ahmad Alamoloda, 76, banned concerts in Mashhad and said women were not allowed to ride bicycles in the city. The ayatollah had previously expressed concern that some Iranian women were more likely to imitate Sophia Loren than the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed Fatima.

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

When Rice last ran for president four years ago, it was rumored that he would build sidewalk walls to separate men and women. “Rice will lead the cultural arena based on Islamic values,” said Hamid-Reza Taraghi, a hardline politician in Mashhad, who has spoken out in opposition to concerts that promote Western values, allowing men and women to dance together. This month, her daughter said on state television that her father had set up only a women’s section at the Mashhad shrine. He says he will build “bridges” for men and women, not walls.

But even if Rice tries to duplicate her father-in-law’s plan, analysts say Mashhad’s experience makes it clear that compliance is difficult even in these more conservative cities.

Despite the religious ban, women can still be seen cycling. Cafes have opened that play recordings of Western music. Young women are stylishly dressed, and the obligatory headscarf is sometimes worn on their shoulders. Private parties are common. According to analysts, the main difference with other big cities is that if you are arrested for drinking alcohol, you will certainly be sentenced to be whipped.

“Hardliners, if elected, could try to impose more restrictions on the cultural sphere, but it is very difficult to bring Iranians back to the pre-Internet, pre-Instagram age,” said a lecturer in cultural sociology at Ferdows University in Mashhad.

The tighter restrictions in Mashhad, if anything, contributes to the identity of the resistance in the city, he says, a different view of others. Mashhad now has the largest number of private music studios in the country, said Ali Alawi, editor of the Khorasan daily, which is Mashhad’s conservative stronghold. He added. “More than 40 years of rule show us that the announced policy can not be [necessarily] carried out by force. ”

For most ordinary Iranians, the biggest concern is not the moral or social issues, but the economy. “We have one of the largest economic cartels in the world in Mashhad [affiliated to the shrine] “But there are people in this city who eat bread with tomato paste,” said one analyst.

According to the sanctions, which hit the economy hard and cause frustration, the poor could become the biggest threat to the Islamic Republic, “perhaps even an existential threat,” the analyst said. The first riots against economic hardship took place in 2017, starting in the city of Mashhad, which has a population of 3 million, and “we can see signs of a rebellion of hungry barefoot here, as a third of Mashhad’s population lives in poor suburbs.” “, he said.

The eighth imam of the Shiite Muslims, Reza, is buried
Shrine of Reza, the eighth Imam of the Shiite Muslims, buried in the city © Najmeh Bozorgmehr / FT

For many in Mashhad, this frustration has made them reluctant to vote. “I’m not going to vote anymore! “I haven’t been able to save a penny for the last four years,” said Reza, a 37-year-old grocery store. “Managers are either weak, strong, strong or weak. Why should I be stupid? ”

Still other voters question the tough stance on regional politics. For Cyrus Milani singer-songwriter Cyrus Milani, who also loves to work from home, it is difficult to reason with Iranian support for Syria and Palestine, “where they have live concerts,” but concerts are forbidden at home. “I’m very excited, I have a small income, but I can do nothing but make my own music,” he said. “This is the first year that I do not know who is running for president, he has no plans to vote.”

Other values ​​are also possible, people in Mashhad say, no less than justice in society. Not far from where he lives, a 33-story apartment building is being built by a 30-year-old politically connected man, the site said. English-language billboards suggest that the building will have billiards, banquet halls, as well as a spa.

Gha’s lack of income և performance constraints have affected his creativity.

“It simply came to our notice then. “We could help boost people’s taste in music, their performances, the quality of their music.” “Now we see what happened to music, bread and butter. When a tree? [Iran] does not look good, first of all the owners! [music] drop, then it gets closer to the roots. “

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