In a youthful country like Iran, we are seeing signs that the dictatorship of the Islamic Republic is on its last legs. Especially because this youthful cultural rebellion, thanks to the Internet, cannot be contained.
The regime’s latest crackdown has focused on repressing Tehran’s underground rap culture.
Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedi-nia explains that his forces arrested “boys and girls” and seized “Western musical instruments” as well as alcohol, which is officially forbidden under Iran’s sharia law.
But the police chief noted the real dangers: the organized efforts of the cultural underground and the rap fans’ ability to share music and communicate with one another online, both at home and abroad.
Like other Iranian underground bands and their fans, the rappers work hard to camouflage their presence from authorities. “These boys and girls used deserted and crumbling buildings, and camouflaged the place by hanging dirty curtains in order not to arouse suspicion,” Sajedi-nia said.
In addition to citing the standard rock/rap behavior that challenge and defy established morals, the police chief said the artists were spreading a subversive message, in his words, “portraying a bleak picture of society.”
Internetted musical underground
This blog has long advocated strong international support for Iran’s youthful rock, rap, hip-hop and punk underground.
The rappers are far from isolated – and herein lies the danger for the regime. “These bands recorded underground clips and released unauthorised songs on satellite and cyber networks,” said Sajedi-nia, according to Agence France Presse.
Where is the Voice of America’s Persian service?
Agence France-Presse notes that despire the official repression, Iran’s “underground bands have still managed to get their music heard by using home computers to get it aired over the Internet or on Persian-language satellite channels broadcasting from abroad.”
This is an extremely important point: Foreign Internet media companies, radio channels and satellite TV channels are vital to leveraging and magnifying the cultural rebels in Iran. Which brings us back to the question, Where is the Voice of America in all this? What is wrong with VOA’s Persian-language service and why is it not providing accurate, timely, and full coverage of the repression of Iran’s young people, whose expressions seem far more like a voice of America than VOA itself.