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Monday, 19 June, 2000, 07:08 GMT 08:08 UK
Iran's pop diva to sing again
Googoosh
Googoosh was in her twenties when she was banned
By Sadeq Saba

The Iranian authorities have allowed the most popular female singer before the Islamic revolution to leave on a concert tour of Canada.

The singer, Googoosh, who also had a large following in the Middle East and Central Asia, has been banned from performing in public since the revolution.

She has arrived in Canada and is due to give her first concert next month.

After Islamic clerics took power in 1979, they declared that female voices corrupted Iranian men.

Cult figure

Googoosh was only in her late twenties at the time.

But, despite the ban, she has become a cult figure among young Iranians.

Her old tapes and videos have continued to circulate in the black market.

The decision to give Googoosh her passport back to enable her to leave Iran is seen as another sign of cultural liberalisation supported by the Iranian reformist President, Mohammad Khatami.

In recent years, classical female singers have been allowed to sing outside Iran or to perform for female-only audiences inside the country.

Last year, male pop groups were also permitted for the first time to stage a series of concerts in Tehran to mark the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

As reformists campaign to ease restrictions on the lives of young people, conservatives continue to oppose cultural relaxations.

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See also:

18 Jun 00 | Middle East
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26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
21 Feb 00 | Media reports
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23 Feb 00 | Middle East
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08 Feb 99 | Middle East
Tehran goes pop
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