Rocking the casbah for Iranian freedom

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A few months back, we told you about 127, Iran’s most popular underground band. We mean underground, like, literally. Playing music in a country where rock and roll is only semi-legal, they’re forced to practice in a soundproof bunker on the outskirts of Tehran.

As the world frets about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the country’s teeming youth population — there are 48 million Iranians under the age of 30, more than two-thirds of the population — has its own concerns. The mullahs may have loosened, a little, their draconian restrictions on pop music. (Concerts are allowed on campus occasionally, although dancing is verboten.) But this sop to the country’s restive youth is a flimsy cover for their ruthless crushing of political dissent.

On the Harvard campus on Saturday, the Iran Freedom Concert, featuring sets by Marcus Miller, Major Major, Blanks, and others hopes to remind people of the problem. Harvard, in conjunction with campuses across the country, wants to expose the Iranian regime's repression of its students, and show solidarity for the student movement and its struggle for civil rights. Between bands, speakers will include Akbar Atri, a veteran of Iran's student movement who got out of the country just in time, and Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, the country’s youngest female Parliamentarian and a visiting scholar at MIT.

The concert aims to draw attention to “the scores of students, bloggers, journalists and dissidents, who have been wrongfully jailed and tortured for exercising their freedom of speech,” says organizer Emmanuel Benhamou, of the Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance. “We also want to show Americans that an indigenous student movement exists in Iran, that is broadly backed by society.”

Will this keyed in youth demographic eventually hold the key to a better future for their country? Will they ever get the chance? As 127 singer/guitarist Sohrab Mohebbi told me, "I have no idea what the country will look like in 20 years. All I can do is wish for the best." In the mean time, you can do more than that. Be at Harvard’s Leverett House at 9pm on Saturday. It’s free.

LISTEN: Blanks, “Oh No!” (MP3)
LISTEN: Blanks, “Homunculus” (MP3)
READ: Blanks Infinite Remix Project

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