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Iran Lays National Singing Icon to Rest amid Wave of Anti-Govt. Anger

Iran Lays National Singing Icon to Rest amid Wave of Anti-Govt. Anger

Saturday, 10 October, 2020 - 04:30
In this Nov. 11, 2009 file photo, legendary Iranian singer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, delivers a speech at a ceremony commemorating late musician Parviz Meshkatian in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

The death of master Iranian singer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian has triggered widespread rage among mourners who upheld the late national icon’s pro-opposition political stance and took to the street against the government.

Shajarian, who enlivened Iran’s traditional music with his unique singing style, had supported protesters following Iran’s contested 2009 election.

Iranian security forces clashed with protesters who turned Shajarian’s vigil into an anti-government demonstration.

Shajarian's death took place at a time when the political environment in Iran is strained with public discontent directed towards the country’s ruling class which failed the economy, mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic and had recently carried out the death penalty against a championed wrestler.

Faced with dire times, Shajarian’s fans in Tehran transformed his vigil into an anti-government protest.

Angry protesters, while honoring his memory, chanted slogans against the regime.

Videos from Iran show people chanting “The state television and radio is a disgrace” and “death to the dictator.”

Other footage posted on social media showed security forces deployed to the area on motorcycles to disperse the crowd and beat them with batons.

In one video, a woman is heard screaming, “don’t hit me, don’t hit me,” as a security officer chases her shouting, “Get lost, get lost.”

The body of Shajarian was transferred to Mehrabad Airport on Friday morning after concluding death prayers that were held in Tehran's Behesht Zahra, Iran’s largest cemetery.

Authorities had decided to lay his body to rest on Saturday in Tus, Mashhad.

He will be buried near the Ferdowsi tomb, a tomb complex composed of a white marble base, and a decorative edifice erected in honor of the Persian poet Ferdowsi.

Hundreds of people gathered for the funeral in Tehran on Friday, one day after he died of kidney cancer. Officials including Iranian Minister of Culture Abbas Salehi were seen at the funeral.

Salehi relayed President Hassan Rouhani’s condolences for the passing of the musician.

The Iranian regime banned Shajarian from holding any concerts since 2009, when he defended protesters who poured onto the streets following the regime’s sham presidential elections. The regime’s state TV also stopped playing his popular works.

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