The Ministry of Culture appears to have caved in to pressure from Islamic Republic hardliners regarding women singing in public, as a recent report indicates that the female singer scheduled to perform in the opening of Fajr Music Festival did not perform.
ISNA reports that the band Khonya was slated to perform at the opening of the Fajr Music Festival on February 13, but in the end the program went ahead without the participation of the female singers.
A spokesperson for the culture ministry said the group has two female and two male singers, and a discussion before the performance led to what was finally presented. The ministry stressed that the change was made “with the agreement of the group”.
In recent weeks, several members of the clergy and hardline groups have been speaking out against female singers in solo performances, and despite the ministry’s initial resistance to the statements, the pressure seems to be having an impact.
Extremist groups have also been pressuring the ministry about the screening of films and publication of books in recent months, and the ministry appears to have retreated in every case.
In his campaign for election, Hassan Rohani promised greater social liberties; however, that has become harder to deliver than the reformist president had anticipated, as his administration appears to have triggered greater adversarial pressure from extremist groups in the establishment.
While the Rohani administration appears to be mounting some sort of resistance against extremists who challenge solo performances by female singers, the administration has never made a statement in support of a woman’s natural right to sing and perform as a singer.