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Iran Bans Western Music

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is banning Iran's state-run radio and television stations from playing Western music, both classical and popular. A written statement released by Iran's Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, headed by Mr. Ahmadinejad, says, "Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran broadcasting is required."

Babak Riahipour, an Iranian guitarist, says the music ban "is terrible." The decision, he says, "shows a lack of knowledge and experience." In December, Alexander Rahbari, conductor of the symphony orchestra in Tehran, Iran's capital, resigned and left Iran to protest the way the clerical regime treats music and musicians.

Iran's clerics had banned western music once before. In 1979, shortly after the overthrow of the Shah, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an anti-music decree. In the 1990s, the ban was relaxed. But women were still forbidden from singing in public to mixed male and female audiences. The radical Islamists claim to believe that women's voices bring so-called "impure thoughts" in the minds of male listeners.

In September, President Ahmadinejad told the United Nations Iran was re-starting its nuclear program. Later, Mr. Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." He recently tried to deny the Holocaust, in which six-million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany in World War Two. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that by its words and deeds, Iran's clerical regime is heading "one-hundred-eighty degrees from the rest of the world":

"The Iranian people are a great people. They have a rich culture. They have a rich history. They have a lot to offer the rest of the world. But through the actions and the statements of their government, what is happening is that they are isolating themselves as a country and a people."

"It's not the Iranian people who are doing that," says State Department spokesman McCormack. "It's. . . .unelected leadership that really controls the power in Iran."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.