Iran Cracks Down On Rap Music
Iran said it plans to launch a crackdown on rap music, complaining that the words used by rap artists were "obscene", the state IRNA news agency reported. "There is nothing wrong with this type of music in itself," the official for evaluation of music at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, Mohammad Dashtgoli, was quoted as saying. "But due to the use of obscene words by its singers this music has been categorised as illegal," he said. "In coordination with the police, illegal studios producing this type of music will be sealed and the singers in this genre will be confronted," he said. Dashtgoli said a large number of illegal rap singers have been already identified. The Islamic republic's hardline officials have repeatedly complained about a "cultural invasion" by "decadent" western music which they believe diminishes Islamic values.The culture ministry official expressed his frustration that rap artists were finding low-cost ways to publish their music on the Internet. "We should find a solution for this." Rap music has become increasingly popular amongst young urban males in Tehran, with explicit lyrics taking in social, political and sexual themes. Producing albums and holding concerts in Iran requires official permission from the culture ministry and, needless to say, rap music is an underground phenomenon in the Islamic republic. Nevertheless, rap albums are widely available on the black market with artists drawing inspiration from the Persian-language rap of the Iranian diaspora based in Los Angeles. Iran is currently in the midst of its most severe moral crackdown in years, which has seen thousands of women warned for slack dressing, several bootleg music stores shut and "decadent" mixed-sex parties raided. Conservatives have applauded the crackdown as a bold move to promote virtue but some moderates have questioned the value of the drive at a time when Iran's economic problems are hitting the poor hard.