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As geopolitical tensions rise with the Iranian regime, a national coalition of American students is uniting for The Iran Freedom Concert. The concert raises awareness of the Iranian government's human rights abuses and expresses solidarity with Iranian students seeking to end these violations. The coalition is non-partisan and does not take a stance on policy issues like foreign intervention. Our message is simple: civil rights must be respected by any Iranian government, and freedom must become a reality for all Iranians.
The Iran Freedom Concert takes place just before the traditional Persian new year of Norouz. Campuses across US are marking the date, with the headline event at Harvard University hosted by the Harvard Middle East Review. Representatives of diverse campus groups will speak between musical performances, highlighting civil rights restrictions that affect women, minorities, musicians, journalists, and all Iranian citizens.
The coalition of activists and organizations supporting the Iran Freedom Concert spans the spectrum. As individuals, we hold a wide range of views on appropriate policies for handling the Iranian regime. As a coalition, we are united by the belief that the essential individual rights of all Iranians must be respected. We recognize that because we live in freedom, we have a responsibility to help echo the call of Iranians our own age demanding freedom.
Please read an FAQ we assembled in response to questions we have been receiving about the Iran Freedom Concert. Read a statement of support for the rally by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation.
The Harvard student organization hosting the concert is the Harvard College Middle East Review. Co-sponsoring organizations include the Harvard Democrats, Harvard Republicans, BGLTSA, Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship, Free Culture Society, Harvard Salient, and Veritas Records. On other campuses across the country, various groups and individuals are organizing programming to mark the day.
Funding for the concert has generously been provided by the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Institue of Politics (IOP). Guidance and logistical support comes from HAMSA: Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance (a project of the American Islamic Congress). Other organizations backing the Iran Freedom Concert include the Damascus-based Tharwa Project, a Middle East minority rights initiative; Students for Global Democracy, an international alliance of student activists; and the Committee to Protect Bloggers, which has led high-profile campaigns to release jailed Iranian bloggers.
The essential elements of the Iran Freedom Concert are illegal in Iran: live singing, females singing to males, mixed dancing, social messages, and performing without a permit. Indeed, "underground" music has a different meaning in Iran. After the 1979 Islamic revolution, most Western music and musical instruments were banned. The mullahs have now eased restrictions, but nightclubs are illegal and musical performances must be approved by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance. Most bands can get permission to perform as along as their music is instrumental. Fans have to stay seated - dancing and even moving energetically in your seat - is forbidden. O-Hum, a popular band from Tehran, was banned from releasing a record because it was deemed "culturally incompatibile". Another popular band called 127 (see photo) has to practice in a soundproof bunker inside and has been allowed to play only four concerts in the past four years. The hard-rock band Mine cannot play in public at all, due to the Iranian government's recently imposed ban on the performance of Western music (rock songs are now banned from Iranian radio). To make matters worse, they have a female vocalist. The all-female band Orkideh was granted a permit to perform - but for women only.
Read an article about support reformers in Iran published in the Harvard Crimson.