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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Iran stops concerts in crackdown
Iranian rock group 127
Music is tightly controlled by the Iranian authorities
A number of jazz and classical music concerts in Iran have been cancelled by the authorities because of their "corrupting" influence, diplomats say.

The concerts had been arranged by foreign embassies in Tehran.

Two jazz performances organised by the Italian mission were called off last week only hours before they were due to start.

Diplomats say the reform-minded culture ministry is being squeezed by anti-Western hardliners.

"The culture ministry cancelled the concerts fearing there may be some attacks on the concert hall by hardliners," a foreign embassy official told Reuters.

The Swiss embassy was due to sponsor some classical music soirees this week, but they too have been ordered to be cancelled.

Musicians had to cancel their trips from Switzerland at the last minute.

The French and German embassies are pushing ahead with plans for concerts later this week.

'Islamic pop'

The conservative Jomhuri Islami newspaper said last week: "Our religious people are against such concerts which help to spread corrupt Western culture."

Diplomats said some audience members were detained at the end of a recent classical concert which had been organised to raise money for victims of last December's earthquake in Bam.

Most forms of Western music were banned following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, though restrictions have eased since reformist President Mohammad Khatami was elected in 1997.

Classical music and jazz are broadcast on state radio, and the country held its first "Islamic pop" festival in 1999 - though women are banned from singing to men, and the audience is not allowed to dance.

The alternative rock group 127 was recently allowed to play at Tehran's art university.

But conservative MPs have accused the culture ministry, which is run by reformists, of being too lax.


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