Aziz Ghasemzadeh has been ordered by the Gilan Education Department to move to Roudbar, 65 miles south of Anzali, for one year, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Ghasemzadeh, the spokesman for the local teachers’ union, has the right to appeal the decision.
In early May 2017, the department decided to punish Ghasemzadeh after a video was posted on social media showing him singing a popular love ballad called, “Chera Rafti” (Why Did You Leave), by singer Homayoun Shajarian, in his art class.
“The students had asked him to sing this very popular poetic song,” the source told CHRI. “There’s no regulation against singing, especially in an art class. But the Gilan Education Department’s Violations Committee ruled that the act of singing itself is against religious principles and not part of the class curriculum.”
The 28-year-old teacher is also the musical director and vocalist for Sepehr, a band that has performed many officially approved concerts in Gilan Province.
Music is not officially banned in Iran, but musicians face many restrictions based on strict interpretations of Shia Islamic law. Concerts are also often canceled following pressure from ultra-conservatives.
In May 2016, Iran’s House of Music, an independent association of musicians, wrote a letter to Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani protesting the frequent disruption of sanctioned musical performances.
“These are difficult days for Iran’s music community. Sabotage and assaults on legal cultural programs and concerts… especially in the presence of police and security forces… have made life difficult in this precious artistic field,” said the letter.
The Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry announced on May 3, 2017 that based on the now revised Public Areas Administrative Regulations, a prosecutor’s order is required for police forces to stop a music concert.