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.

 

Netanyahu faces mounting pressure over holy site

Erdogan holds talks with Gulf leaders on Qatar crisis

Iran gets more involved in Iraq militarily

Two Jordanians killed at Israeli embassy in Amman

600,000 Yemenis expected to contract cholera in 2017

EU warns Turkey economy at risk in Germany row

Saudi crown prince takes temporary charge

Israel strikes Gaza after missile across border

Hezbollah says fight on Syria border ‘nearing end’

Staff of Turkey opposition paper stand trial

Trump aide due in Israel to ease holy site tensions

Tehran’s judiciary chief accuses US of jailing innocent Iranians

Palestinian arrested after attack in Tel Aviv

Maghreb future is tied to resolving Western Sahara conflict

MENA countries particularly vulnerable to climate change

UN-backed Libya PM to meet eastern strongman near Paris

Saudi Arabia and allies insist demands non-negotiable as GCC crisis continues

Arab League accuses Israel of 'playing with fire' at holy site

Erdogan seeks to defuse standoff around Turkey’s Qatar

Syria warplanes strike near Damascus despite ceasefire

US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle