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The Eagles--Banned in Iran

1979 Revisited: Iran's President Bans Western Music
Published December 20, 2006

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned Western music from Iran's radio and TV stations, reviving one of the harshest cultural decrees from the early days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has banned Western music from Iran's radio and TV stations, reviving one of the harshest cultural decrees from the early days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Songs such as George Michael's "Careless Whisper," Eric Clapton's "Rush" and the Eagles' "Hotel California" have regularly accompanied Iranian broadcasts, as do tunes by saxophonist Kenny G.

But the official IRAN Persian daily reported Monday that Ahmadinejad, as head of Iran's Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, ordered the enactment of an October ruling by the council to ban Western music.

"Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required," according to a statement on the council's official Web site.

Ahmadinejad's order means broadcasters must execute the decree and prepare a report on its implementation within six months, according to the newspaper.

"This is terrible," said Iranian guitarist Babak Riahipour, whose music was played occasionally on state radio and TV. "The decision shows a lack of knowledge and experience."

Music was outlawed as un-Islamic by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini soon after the revolution. But as the fervor of the revolution started to fade, light classical music was allowed on radio and television. Some public concerts reappeared in the late 1980s.

Western music, films and clothing are widely available in Iran, and hip-hop can be heard on Tehran's streets, blaring from car speakers or from music shops. Bootleg videos and DVDs of films banned by the state are widely available on the black market.

After eight years of reformist-led rule in Iran, Ahmadinejad won office in August on a platform of reverting to ultraconservative principles promoted by the revolution.

Since then, Ahmadinejad has jettisoned Iran's moderation in foreign policy and pursued a purge in the government, replacing pragmatic veterans with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners.

He also has issued stinging criticisms of Israel, called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map" and described the Nazi Holocaust as a "myth."

International concerns are high over Iran's nuclear program, with the United States accusing Tehran of pursuing an atomic weapons program. Iran denies the claims.

During his presidential campaign, Ahmadinejad also promised to confront what he called the Western cultural invasion and promote Islamic values.

The latest media ban also includes censorship of content of films.

"Supervision of content from films, TV series and their voice-overs is emphasized in order to support spiritual cinema and to eliminate triteness and violence," the council said in a statement on its Web site explaining its October ruling.

The council has also issued a ban on foreign movies that promote "arrogant powers," an apparent reference to the United States.