IRB – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (Author)
The following information was provided
during a 10 September 1998 telephone interview with a sociologist
with the Iranian research group with the Centre national de la
recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris who is also a chargée
de conférences at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris-III. The
sociologist travels frequently to Iran for field research. The
sociologist spent the Summer of 1998 in Iran and attended several
weddings and receptions where musicians and groups were performing
The sociologist stated that musicians
performing "modern music" are not targeted and are not subject to
ill-treatment by the security forces today in Iran as long as they
do not perfom in public. Music such as rap, and rock and roll is
banned in Iran because the lyrics are considered offensive. Many
Iranian musicians living in Iran currently reproduce pop music from
Iranian artists living in California who are played on official
Iranian television and radio stations in Iran. Since the election
of Khatami the Ministry of Culture has been much more liberal in
its interpretation of what is permissible for musicians. For
example, in April 1998 the Ministry of Culture invited the
French-based Iranian singer Homa to perform for three consecutive
nights in Iran. This was the first time since the 1979 revolution
that a woman singer was officially allowed to performed in public
for a mixed audience.
Iranian musicians performing "modern music"
are invited to private mixed weddings where people want to dance.
For this type of wedding the organizers must inform the security
forces that they will have "modern musicians" and pay a fee. Once
this procedure is completed the wedding can proceed without
problems. People who organize weddings where dancing will occur
systematically inform and pay the fee to their local security
forces. Traditional Iranian weddings do not require informing the
Persons who "forget" to inform the local
security forces and who are visited by them during the wedding
celebrations would simply have to pay a fee. The sociologist
witnessed the interruption of weddings by security forces and there
were no arrests or detention for the participants and organizers.
Only a fee was required. Often, members of the security forces will
sit down, eat, take the fee and leave. Musicians who are caught by
the security forces would also have to pay a fee. The general rule
is that the fee will be higher for well-known groups, or for groups
who have been caught on a prior occasion. After being caught three
times, musicians would have their western instruments confiscated
by the security forces. Iranian instruments are never
Today in Iran the Basij and Ansar
Hezbollah, which do not accept fees and who are ideologically
committed, rarely interfere in weddings with musicians playing
"modern music". The sociologist added that it is unlikely that
militant religious leaders and militant Basijis would in practice
interfere in private weddings or parties involving "modern music"
and arrest the participants. The militant clerics only make public
declarations against "modern music" as propaganda, something that
does not carry any consequences in practice.
The interference of security forces in
weddings or parties with "modern music" is an economic activity to
supplement their official income rather than an ideological or
political activity and this is well-understood by the
This Response was prepared after
researching publicly accessible information currently available to
the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is
not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any
particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Sociologist, CNRS-Monde Iranien and
chargée de conférences at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle
Paris-III, Paris. 10 September 1998. Telephone interview.