Mohsen Namjoo don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
“‘Iran’s Bob Dylan’ Under Fire Over Koran Song,” by Golnaz Esfandiari for Payvand’s Iran News, September 8 (thanks to Twostellas):
Mohsen Namjoo is Iran’s most popular, and controversial, musician.
He is known for fusing traditional Persian music with Western styles such as rock, jazz, and blues. He blends the verses of great Iranian poets, such as Hafiz and Rumi, with his own poetry and words.
Many see the 32-year-old Namjoo as a genius — an avant-garde artist who breaks barriers. Others dismiss him as a lunatic. The fact is that no one can remain indifferent while listening to his songs.
Now, he is facing angry protests over a song that includes verses from the Koran.
His brother says the song was just an experiment not meant to be publicized, but angry Koran experts and religious figures say Namjoo should be punished for what they call an insult to Islam’s holy book.
The song is a mix of traditional Persian music with Koranic verses spoken by Namjoo, who reportedly used to be a Koran reciter during his childhood.
‘Remain Silent And Listen’
Namjoo’s troublesome song was posted on websites several months ago. It all apparently happened without Namjoo’s knowledge and consent. The song didn’t get much attention among fans or become a hit like other Namjoo’s songs, but it made some people very angry.
Abbas Mohajerani, an Iranian-born Islamic scholar based in London, tells Radio Farda that music distracts the listener from “the word of God.”
“When the Koran is being read, everyone should remain silent and listen,” Mohajerani says. “If there is music playing, then the listener’s attention is largely caught by the music.”
Abbas Salimi, a well-known Koran expert, was among the first to publicly complain about the song. In a recent complaint letter to Tehran’s Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, Salimi said that Namjoo had performed verses of the Koran in an insulting way and that he should be punished.
More complaints have followed, including by the Koran Council of Iran’s Department of National Health and by Tehran’s Koran Society.
And the anger against Namjoo seems to be growing. One Koran reciter has compared the case with the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” and the crisis over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that appeared in a Danish newspaper last year. He called on all Iranians and Koran lovers to stand up and defend their “sanctities.”…