May 24, 2019
A female singer in Iran has been summoned to appear in court after performing solo in public, according to media reports.
Negar Moazzam sang for a group of tourists in the historic village of Abyaneh last week, wearing the traditional costume of that part of Isfahan Province, until local Cultural Heritage Organisation staff cut short her performance, Fars news agency reports.
Ms Moazzam uploaded a video on social media, where it was quickly noticed by fans and the authorities alike – her Instagram account alone has more than 180,000 followers.
The video has disappeared from her platforms since prosecutors in the county town of Natanz announced the court summons, but it has been widely repostedelsewhere.
The chief prosecutor of Isfahan Province, Ali Esfahani, confirmed to Tasnim news agency that his office had opened an investigation into reports of “a woman singing solo”.
The HRANA news agency, which is based abroad and focuses on human rights in Iran, says the country does not have a specific law barring women from singing solo in public, but added that the authorities continue to stop such performances, and have punished male singers in the past for singing with women.
Moreover, female solo singers are not broadcast on TV and radio in Iran, which is one reason why performers like Negar Moazzam use Instagram and Telegram to promote their videos.
‘Prison for 80 million’
The summons has come in for a lot of criticism on Twitter.
One user contrasted the speed with which the authorities opened the investigation into Ms Moazzam with their handling of physical attacks on women – “when someone throws acid in a woman’s face nobody pursues it, and in the end it’s the woman who’s found guilty“.
Another was more pithy: “Iran hasn’t been a country for 40 years – it’s a prison for 80 million people“.