Has Forgiven Jesus
From The Sunday Times
February 3, 2008
Heaven knows I’m Muslim now - Morrissey lines up Iran gig
NEVER mind the fundamentalists, here’s Morrissey. The rock singer is planning to play a concert in Iran as his contribution to the international healing process.
The singer, whose songs include Bigmouth Strikes Again and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, is in talks with the Iranian government and the Foreign Office about staging a performance in Tehran later this year.
Morrissey, 48, who has been outspoken in attacking the allied invasion of Iraq, says he wants to link the visit to other planned concerts on a tour of the Middle East. His management team is in contact with the music office at the Islamic culture and guidance ministry in Tehran.
Rock groups are allowed to perform only with a licence from the ministry and there are strict guidelines about conduct under Iran’s sharia (Islamic law). Violators can receive imprisonment, fines or the lash.
“I would love to sing in Tehran,” said the former Smiths front man, whose most recent album, Ringleader of the Tormentors, opened with the song I Will See You in Far-off Places.
He has described the decision by George W Bush and Tony Blair to invade Iraq as “worse than terrorism . . . the action of egotistical monsters”, while his first solo album, Viva Hate, included a vitriolic attack on Margaret Thatcher called Margaret on the Guillotine.
Iran is still suspicious of pop music. Last summer police raided an underground festival in an orchard near the town of Karaj to stop what they called a “provocative, satanic concert”. More than 200 people were arrested.
If the event does go ahead, Morrissey will have to play to an audience segregated by gender. Women would be allowed only if they stayed in roped-off areas and wore modest clothing, including headscarves. All song lyrics would be vetted. Female backing vocalists and mixed dancing in the aisles would be outlawed and beer, of course, would be banned.
Morrissey would be the first western singer to perform there since Britain and Iran restored full diplomatic relations in 1999 after a 10-year-long rift caused by the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwah against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.