First Published: 2004-08-23

Freddie Mercury gets official seal of approval in Iran

Iranian authorities approve of Rock band Queen's tunes that have social theme, leaving out love songs.


Middle East Online

Mercury was proud of his Iranian ancestry

TEHRAN - Rock band Queen, fronted by outlandish gay icon Freddie Mercury, have become the first rock band to be given the official seal of approval in Iran with the release of an album of their greatest hits, a source in the company that released the album said Monday.

Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991, was proud of his Iranian ancestry and supposed Zoroastrian origins, which made Queen one of the most popular bands in Iran, but western music is largely frowned upon in the Islamic republic, where homosexuality is considered a crime.

"Authorities approved of the tunes that had a social theme, leaving out the love songs," an executive in the company said.

The album contains smash hits such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Miracle" and "I Want to Break Free".

Western music is strictly censored in Iran and those selling foreign music need special permits, although millions of bootlegged banned CDs and cassettes are sold on the black market throughout the country.

The album is already selling very well. "It is the first rock album to hit the market legally and people are surprised and pleased to see it has the lyrics, not just the music," said Akbar Safari, a salesman at a Tehran book and record store.

The cassette, costing less than one US dollar, comes complete with explanatory leaflet, which tells rock fans that "Bohemian Rhapsody" is about a young man who has accidentally killed someone and, like Faust, sold his soul to the devil. On the night before his execution he calls God in Arabic, "Bismillah", and so regains his soul from Satan.

Other western acts to have had albums of selected songs released on the official Iranian market are Elton John, Julio Iglesias and Gypsy Kings.

There are also books containing original and translated lyrics by many western singers such as Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion and even white rap artist Eminem, published to respond to the ever increasing demands of a nation where 70 percent of the population is under 30.


Tunisia under state of emergency

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey

Tunisia group claims beheading of young shepherd on behalf of ISIS

Kerry arrives in Abu Dhabi for Syria discussions

Three Palestinians killed as fresh violence hits West Bank

Iran arrests ISIS-linked cell near Iraq border

Brussels remains on high alert for second day in a row

Israel seeks to strip citizenship of those who join ISIS

France warns Libya as ISIS gains ground

Fear escalates as ISIS edges closer to Syria Christian town

Iran sentences reporter Jason Rezaian to prison

Egyptians vote in second phase of parliamentary elections

Assad grateful to Russia as army advances on ‘nearly every front’

Obama calls for resolve in face of terrorist threats

Russia bombs ISIS in heaviest strikes since beginning of Syria war

ISIS claims deadly attack on Iraq Shiite mosque

Iran Revolutionary Guard simulate capture of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Turkey-backed Syria rebels seize two border villages from ISIS

Israel shuts down second Palestinian radio station