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World - Middle East

Iran marks Islamic Revolution with first pop concert in 20 years

From Reporter Kasra Naji

Pop band

CNN's Kasra Naji reports on Iran's bold move to allow pop music
Windows Media 28K 80K

February 12, 1999
Web posted at: 8:24 p.m. EST (0124 GMT)

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- For the first time since the Islamic Revolution 20 years ago, a pop concert was held Thursday in Iran, despite opposition from conservative clergymen.

Since the revolution, pop music has been regarded as un-Islamic, a corrupting influence, and there were fears that right-wing Islamic vigilante groups might try to disrupt the event.

But the government of moderate President Mohammad Khatami says it is determined to carry on with liberalization of Iranian society. The concert was part of the monthlong commemoration of the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in February 1979.

"Every new idea will inevitably face opposition and problems. We will carry on this new road with patience and tolerance," said Attoaollah Mohajerani, minister of culture and Islamic guidance.

The pop concert is an illustration of how young people have moved onto center stage in Iran. Slightly more than half of the country's population of 65 million is under 20 years old, which means young people now form a big part of the electorate.

Last year, they showed their power when they overwhelmingly supported Khatami -- a vote for moderation and against strict enforcement of Islamic rules and regulations.

The young have other concerns, too. Their prospects for finding jobs and housing are poor. The government is concerned that over the next few years, young people will flood the job market, when unemployment is already soaring.

But many observers believe that with young people acting as a voice for moderation, Iran will inevitably move toward a more tolerant and open society.

Flag burning, Bugs Bunny herald Iran anniversary
February 11, 1999
Iran's festive anniversary bleak for some
February 10, 1999
Iran marks 20th anniversary of revolution
February 1, 1999

THE IRANIAN: History, 1979 revolution, day by day
Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran
Iran Culture and Information Center
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