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Famed Iranian Musician Blasts Iranian Officials in Rare VOA Interview

Says officials "are no longer able to manage the country"

Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2009 – An acclaimed Iranian musician, in a rare interview on Voice of America (VOA), criticized Iran's government for its recent post-election crackdown, saying officials are no "longer able to manage the country."

Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a master of traditional Persian music, said he has asked Iran's state broadcaster to stop playing his music. "Our public television is meant to be the voice of everyone in the country and not just represent one political faction," he said Sunday on 48 Hours, a program on VOA's Persian News Network (PNN). "Frankly, I cannot stomach any of their broadcasting. I had to lodge a complaint against them because they kept airing my music."

Shajarian, who has infrequently granted interviews, discussed his career and his European concert tour. Language of Fire, his recent song, is a hit in Iran where he lives.

The musician said he was sickened by the Iranian government's actions against its citizens after the disputed election in which President Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. "The scenes I witnessed in Iran would have wrenched every gut. I don't think the noble people of Iran deserve to be treated that way," he said. "They (the leaders) are no longer able to manage the country. They are barely able to contain it."

Shajarian criticized Iran's religious authorities for edicts that ban women from performing in public. "By not letting women sing freely in public, they have eliminated part of music. How can you have music without a soprano voice?" Iran, he added, has failed to support the arts. "They have not built one single concert hall in 30 years," he said.

Following the interview, hundreds of people contacted VOA to express their appreciation for inviting Shajarian on the air.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

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