Iranian Band Abjeez Says Supreme Leader’s Dismissal Of Music ‘Ridiculous’

The screws continue to tighten on musicians and artists in Iran as the country’s religious authorities increase restrictions on public expression and dissent as part of a wider crackdown on opposition activity. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced this month that “promoting and teaching” music is “not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic.” His comments came two months after the Education Ministry announced a ban on musical education in private schools. The moves are widely seen as a response to the mass street protests that broke out following the country’s disputed June 2009 presidential election.

Melody and Safoura Safavi, two sisters from the Iranian band Abjeez (which is Persian slang for sisters), responded to the supreme leader’s comments as part of a wider RFE/RL interview on the role of music in Iran.

The Safavis started Abjeez in Iran, where women are banned from performing publicly, but have since moved to Sweden. The band is known for its rebellious, humorous lyrics, and unique style, mixing Iranian soul with world pop. Songs are composed in the sisters’ native Farsi and occasionally other languages — such as in as their latest music video “Farfar” (Swedish for &…

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