Culture And Media

Iran: Singer may be punished for singing Koranic verses

Tehran, 25 Sept. (AKI) - A prominent Iranian singer-songwriter could be punished for using verses of the Koran, Islam's holy book, in a song.

Mohsen Namjoo, considered by the US daily The New York Times as the 'Iranian Bob Dylan', could potentially face a jail sentence or even the death penalty after mixing Persian music with Koranic verses.

Namjoo, a 32-year-old native of Torbate-Jam in northeastern Iran and a former Koranic reciter, said the song was a "simple experiment" and was not meant to be publicised. The song was uploaded on the Internet without his consent and knowledge.

A Koran expert later complained about Namjoo's song and sent a letter to Tehran's feared public prosecutor Saiid Mortazavi, known for shutting down hundreds of newspapers and ordering the arrest of hundreds of journalists and Internet bloggers.

More complaints have been filed by several Iranian Islamic organisations, raising fears that Najmoo could be punished have a 'fatwa' or religious edict issued against him calling for his death.

"The use of Koranic verses in the context of a song is a big offence, on a par with Salman Rushdie's book and the Danish cartoon," said Abbas Mohajerani, an Iranian-born Islamic scholar based in the United Kingdom.

"When the Koran is being read, everyone should remain silent and listen. If there is music playing, then the listener's attention is largely caught by the music," he said.

Namjoo is currently on a solo concert tour in the US.




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