Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

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Iran's 'Bob Dylan' Wanted For Blasphemy

Aug 8

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8/8/2009 2:53 AM  RssIcon

Mohsen Namjoo, Iran’s most controversial, musician, feels the mullahs' wrath 

Here's one I saw recently on Radio Free Europe's Iran news site: Iranian singer Mohsen Namjoo has been found guilty of "disrespecting religious sanctities" for his use of Koranic verses in a song and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. Although Namjoo, 32, apologized for the song a few months ago, some say his open support for the "green" movement around presidential candidate Mir Hossein Musavi and his appearance at opposition rallies abroad led to his being sentenced to prison. Namjoo was classically trained in Tehran music academies and excelled at the setar before teaching himself guitar. Along the way he encountered the blues, and that’s where the Dylan comparisons began. "I regret my self-censorship and condescension for all these years, like many others who do the same," Namjoo, who lives in Vienna, told the BBC. The Western press's championing of him as the voice of dissent won't have helped his cause. I’m tired of seeing musicians of any alternative style being postered as the voices of a generation, or the voices of protest. It happens every few years in China, where rock musicians love publicity but generally shun any chance of confrontation with the rule-alone Communist Party here. Is it fair to hang all these expectations on musicians, particularly since the media in question in all cases I've seen have rarely if ever written about the musician before or after putting them on the cover as China's/Iran's great Dylanesque hope? 

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1 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Iran's 'Bob Dylan' Wanted For Blasphemy

What sort of backwards country would still have blasphemy as a law in this day and age....oh.

Seriously though, it's as unfair on us in the west to champion him as some sort of defender of free speech as it is for the conservative press to brand him as blasphemous.

By Idiot Kid on   8/9/2009 8:37 AM

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