By Ali Kalaei translated by Parvaneh Torkamani
Is the issue of women’s singing rooted in religion or politics?
Throughout Iranian history, women’s voices and their singing has provoked discussion and argument. As far as modern history is concerned, discussions after the 1979 Iranian Revolution led to a complete ban on women’s singing forced all established female singers to stop their artistic activity, causing many of them immigrate to outside Iran’s borders. Then there was the loosening of restrictions after May 1997 that allowed women like Parisa and Sima Bina to start singing. Yet, every once in a while, the right of women to sing is challenged by the media and by the people.
But the history of women singing spans beyond that of the 1979 Revolution. It was a contentious issue even before the Revolution. This issue is so sensitive that in traditional theater such as Ta’zieh, men play women’s roles in the Karbala tragedy. Also in Mouloodi Singings—a kind of religious singing in praise of the Prophet Mohammad and his family on occasion of their births—women possess the right only to sing in front of other women. Young boys before puberty, under the age of seven could be present too in the event, but their singing was and is related to the level of their dignity. In tribal communities, however, women sang and danced alongside men and they still do.
Continue reading “Women Singing: An Issue of Religion or Politics?”
They came and took him from the front of his house. His friends saw that he was arrested on the street. Yesterday he left home and there has been no news of him since. Over the past four decades, one could hear such words from many families — families who are still looking for their loved ones, families who still don’t know what exactly happened to their loved ones, families who are not sure if one day their children will return.
This story and these questions are the story and questions of many families who have lost their loved ones over the past thirty-seven years. One family’s beloved was present at a protest and later disappeared; another family’s dear one belonged to a protest group and the news of her arrest had arrived, but later there was no news of her; a baby was born in prison, and after a few days of separation from her mother, she disappeared. In Iran, people have been missing for days, months, years, decades.
It is a black list, a famous black list, that includes people from every event, group, and organization, from every religion, sect, and tradition, who share in the same pain like these suffering people throughout the years.
The disappearance of people under authoritarian regimes or governments who do not care for the life and well-being of their citizens is not an issue that starts at one point and ends at another. The inventory gets longer as time goes by, but this dark night is not going to be over until there is an everlasting morning for all the people of this land.
Continue reading “The Disappeared Throughout the Decades: A Secret in the Heart of Security Houses of the Iranian Regime”