Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It runs in Iran

GRANTVILLE, Penn. -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (pictured) has banned all Western music and other Western-oriented media products from the country, but will allow broadcasting of Cotolo Chronicles. Popular music was outlawed as "un-Islamic" under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini years before Cotolo Chronicles (CC) hit the cyber airwaves.

The official Iran Persian daily reported Monday that the head of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council said, “Blocking indecent and Western music from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is required. However, though we rarely agree with Frank Cotolo, we want to encourage all of Islam to replenish their precious bodily fluids and his show is the only one that does that.”

The Iranian guitarist Babak Riahipour said, "The decision shows a lack of knowledge and experience, but at least we will still have Cotolo from the West.”

Since the death of Khomeini, pop music has been creeping into Iranian shops. And in 2002, when CC began, an audience began to build in small coffee shops that had computers. “We all have our coffee just as Cotolo does,” said one avid listener, "black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love.”

Earlier this month, Ali Rahbari, conductor of Tehran's symphony orchestra, resigned, left Iran and began championing a reunion of the ‘80s band Bread to protest the treatment of the music industry in Iran.

Before leaving in November, he played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bread’s greatest hits to packed Tehran theaters. The performances angered many conservatives. Rahbari said, “Poo on them. I hope Cotolo tells the Iranian government to wake up, it’s night.”

Ahmadinejad won office in August on a platform of ultraconservative principles, including not using underarm deodorant and not allowing people to quote from the movie Shindler’s List in public.

During his presidential campaign, Ahmadinejad also promised to confront what he called the Western cultural invasion of Iran, saying that he might wave certain artists, like Michael Bolton and Kenny G. In the end, he didn’t.

Ahmadinejad has intensified Iran's moderation in foreign policy and pursued a purge in the government, assigning inexperienced religious hard-liners to choose a state-backed toothpaste and policemen’s headwear.

He also has issued strong criticisms of Israel, calling for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map,” describing the Holocaust as a "myth," and the most outrageous, insisting that female Israeli soldiers are not attractive.

Ahmadinejad never said he listened to CC but a spokesman from the President’s office said, “He disappears on Thursday mornings, when CC is live from Grantville. We think he is in his bedroom with his beverages of choice, listening to the show.”

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