Mashhad’s Friday Mass Imam says he has little against music but added that since Mashhad is the site of the shrine of the eighth Imam of the Shia Muslim faith, it is inappropriate to hold concerts there.

Ahmad Alamolhoda

Ahmad Alamolhoda

The cancellation of concerts has become a controversial in recent months because most of them had already been approved by the Ministry of Culture. Ahmad Alam ol Hoda said the cancellations are not meant as attacks against certain figures; however, support for these concerts could easily be perceived as support for enemies of the country.

On Wednesday night, Alireza Ghorbani’s concert in a city near Mashhad was cancelled by the order of the Khorasan Prosecutor General, even though it had received a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Guidance. It was the latest in a series of concerts that have been cancelled in recent months due to a push from establishment hardliners, against the wishes of the administration.

Prosecutor General Ali Mozafari Khorasan responded to questions about the issuance and cancellation of concert permits, saying his office is not responsible for issuing them; however, the prosecutor’s office is responsible for monitoring all actions of the administration. “If the administration takes a step that is not in the interest of the community, the prosecutor’s office has to step in and stop it,” Mozafari said.

He added that Mashhad is the “Spiritual Capital of Islam” and government officials must keep this in mind when dealing with events scheduled in Mashhad.

Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati reacted to concert cancellations last week, saying the administration stands by the permits it issues for any given concert. But the ministry has apparently found it difficult to stand against the will of hardliners across the country.