This week’s Monday Metal is taking us to Iran where metal isn’t as appreciated, at least in the more religious rural areas, as it is here in the United States:
For nine months after the beating, Meraj laid low, but one day a representative of the city’s religious authorities called his father and demanded he report to the police station. He didn’t, and a few weeks later a well connected student said that both Meraj and Anahid had been discussed during a high level meeting of the city authorities. “They said we have music in this city and there is a group named Master of Persia. The girl has a shaved head and is a Satanist,” he said.
A prominent local religious leader, Ayatollah Alam Alhoda told the meeting that the band were clearly kaffirs, or unbelievers, and demanded that the authorities deal with them. This, said Meraj, was serious. “When a big mullah says ‘kaffir’ this is no joke.
They don’t need the documents and the law – they will kill you,” he said. Ayatollah Alhoda also had priors: in 2012 he called for an Iranian rapper, Shahin Najafi, who lived in Cologne, to be assassinated. Najafi was later given a death sentence for apostasy by another hardline cleric based in Qom and an Iranian news website announced a $100,000 reward for anyone who would kill the rapper. Within four days, Meraj had sold his car for $4,000 and he and Anahid had fled Iran, first travelling to Tehran and then across the border by bus. They have not been back since.
When metal first arrived on the scene here in the United States it was also met with significant resistance from religious individuals and concerned parents. Granted, by that point in the country’s history religious leaders had already lost their extralegal privileges but they tried their damnedest to get the government to restrict metal and other “obscene” forms of music. Their push for government control was serious enough that Dee Snider had to defend himself against Tipper Gore in front of Congress in 1985.
While the fight for metal here has basically been won, the fight continues in other parts of the world.