Iran books singer for promoting veil removal in song

TEHRAN-Iranian authorities have filed a lawsuit against prominent pop singer Mehdi Yarrahi after his new song that urges women to remove their mandatory headscarves. This action follows almost a year after the death of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested for violating the country’s strict dress code, leading to widespread protests. Yarrahi’s new song, titled “Roosarito” (meaning “Your Headscarf” in Farsi), expresses solidarity with last year’s protest movement. The Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online website stated, “A legal case was filed against Mehdi Yarrahi following the release of an illegal song which defies the morals and customs of the Islamic society.” Despite this development, Yarrahi remains out of custody, and the specific charges against him are yet to be clarified. The singer’s three-minute video incorporates the slogan of the protest movement, “Woman, life, freedom,” and encourages women to remove their headscarves. The video features short clips of women dancing with their hair uncovered. In addition to “Roosarito,” Yarrahi’s prior song “Soroode Zan” (or “Woman’s Anthem”), released in October, also attracted attention and is included in the legal measures. Mehdi Yarrahi, who won the award for best pop singer at Iran’s government-organised Fajr festival in 2018, has often used his platform to criticize authorities. He has drawn attention to the perceived marginalization of people in his home province of Khuzestan, which has a significant Arab minority. The backdrop for this legal action traces back to the death of Mahsa Amini, which ignited protests across Iran and amplified discussions about women’s rights and the compulsory headscarf. During the period of unrest, thousands were arrested, and hundreds lost their lives, including security personnel. The move against Yarrahi underscores the Iranian authorities’ ongoing concerns about the impact of cultural expressions on public sentiment and social norms. As society shifts and demands for greater personal freedoms grow, artistic voices like Yarrahi’s continue to challenge established boundaries.

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