Iranians ignore president's ban on Western culture

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ban on Western music fell on deaf ears Tuesday, as shop owners and music enthusiasts in the Iranian capital continued selling, buying and listening to everything from Hip Hop to country rock. "This president speaks as if he is living in the stone age. This man has to understand that he can't tell the people what to listen and what not to listen," said Mohammed Reza Hosseinpour as he browsed through a Tehran music shop. The shop's owner said he didn't expect the president's ban to be implemented. "Clerics and officials speak about imposing restrictions every other day. I don't think it's going to be enforced," said Reza Sadeghi as he counted some bills he received from the sale of an Eric Clapton tape. The official IRAN Persian daily reported Monday that Ahmadinejad, as head of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, ordered the enactment of an October ruling by the council to ban all Western music, including classical music, on state broadcast outlets.

The order was an eerie reminder of the 1979 Islamic revolution when popular music was outlawed as "un-Islamic" under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In the revolution's early years, police stopped cars in search of Western music tapes, destroying any tapes they found and sometimes arresting those they caught listening to them. But little seems to have changed in Tehran since Monday's ruling. State radio and TV stations sometimes play Western music, without lyrics, in the background of newscasts and other programs, but more often they play Iranian pop or traditional music. On Tuesday, there was only Iranian music, but it was not immediately clear if that was because of the ban. The ban applies only to state-run radio and television. Tehran residents, accustomed to the relaxed rules and rare enforcement of such restrictions in the past 10 years, seemed unconcerned that it might signal a return to the wider restrictions imposed during the revolution.

"Don't take this man (Ahmadinejad) seriously," said Pari Mahmoudi, a teen driving in the capital, as the Eagles' "Hotel California" blared from the car speakers. The expectation among many was that the new ban would fall by the wayside as others have recently.

Iran's government has banned the sale of music by female singers in the past and has forbidden women from wearing heavy make-up. Neither orders have ever been enforced, reports the AP. N.U.

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