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Rock 'n' Roll no longer banned in Iran

ABC World News Tonight
April 5, 2000, Wednesday



Finally this evening, change, but ever so carefully. The Supreme Court in Iran has taken another very careful step today to expand social freedoms in the Islamic republic. The court says it will no longer be a crime to have immodest pictures or videos, as the court put it, if they're for personal use. And not used to promote corruption or prostitution. Change, but careful change in a nation of 65 million people. As Gillian Findlay reports, the next thing you know, there will be rock 'n' roll.


(VO) For more than 20 years, it was sinful, immoral, a symbol of Western corruption. But, now, two decades after the Ayatollahs banned it, rock 'n' roll is back. This is Paradis Iran's first legal post-revolution rock band.

Unidentified Man: People used to exaggerate this kind of music. Rock is always with alcohol and drugs. So we came when we came to the stage, and started singing and playing this kind of music we wanted to show them that this is not the way that you think.

FINDLAY: (VO) They learned the music from smuggled tapes, from radio and satellite TV. Western music is now so popular in Iran that officials decided they could no longer fight it.

Man: I've got something to say.

FINDLAY: (VO) And, so, with the blessing of the Mullahs, Paradis is on the concert circuit.

Man: It just like the feeling of being viewed on MTV.

FINDLAY: (VO) Today, for only the second time, they will play publicly at an art school in downtown Tehran. Everyone is nervous.

Man: Maybe we're in danger doing such a thing.

FINDLAY: (VO) Some people might object to the music and try to stop it. A government delegation has come to listen. There is the obligatory reading from the Koran, and then the music begins. As rock concerts go, this one is pretty tame. The band members were ordered not to dance, too un-Islamic. The audience didn't dare. And yet there was an excitement here that even the frowns of the officials could not extinguish.

Man: I assure you that a year later we will have so many concerts just like this. Not only rock and roll, but other kinds of music.

FINDLAY: (VO) Perhaps. But it's going to take time. After just two songs, the officials at this concert decided the audience had heard enough. A signal was sent to wrap it up. Change in Iran still has limits. Gillian Findlay, Tehran.

JENNINGS: But fewer limits as of today.

That is our report on WORLD NEWS TONIGHT. This evening on "Nightline," how viewers helped a young girl whose legs were destroyed by a mine in Kosovo walk again.

I'm Peter Jennings. Hope you have a good evening. Good night.


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