Iranian Musician Mehdi Rajabian Jailed for Working with Women Artists
Last updated on September 9th, 2020
Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian is awaiting trial in Iran after he was arrested on August 10 for working with female singers and dancers.
30-year-old artist Rajabian, who is under house arrest, was arrested after reports of him including female artists in his latest album went viral. Supposedly, his project was to include women singing and a video of a woman dancing to his music – both the acts are considered immoral under Iranian law.
Mehdi Rajabian has already been jailed twice before for his music. “Even if I go to prison hundreds of times, I need female singing in my project, I need female dance,” he said.
“Whenever I feel the need to produce this music, I will definitely produce it. I do not censor myself,” he told a media channel via SMS from the northern city of Sari, where he is currently out on bail.
According to Human Rights Watch, Iran has put a censor on music and art from a very long time, while arresting hundreds of artists under vaguely defined morality laws that target women and sexual minorities.
Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, says that there aren’t any laws as such that ban women in music. However, traditional and religious beliefs of Iran’s Islamic rulers, who came to power in the 1979 revolution, are behind the whole oppression of women.
“The government would like to propagate … a traditional attitude towards women’s presence in public in general. It doesn’t have to be about performance,” Ghaemi said.
The video, because of which Rajabian was arrested, showed Iranian dancer Helia Bandeh, who now lives outside Iran, dancing to a track from his 2019 peace album Middle Eastern by Sony Music, which features around 100 artists.
Mehdi Rajabian remains unaffected by the recent jail threats as he has spent three months in solitary confinement in 2013 for propaganda against the state. Moreover, in 2015, he has spent two years in jail before being released following a 40-day hunger strike.
“I have been completely alone at home for years. It was as if I had been transferred from a smaller prison to a larger one,” Mehdi Rajabian said.
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