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Joss Stone denied entry to Iran for gig #200

Joss Stone has been denied entry to Iran to play what would have been the 200th and final stop on her Total world tour.

The tour, which sought to play in every country in the world, began in 2014, and was scheduled to come to a close in Iran on Saturday 29 June, following stops in Yemen (country #199) Libya (#198) and Saudi Arabia (#197).

As with Stone’s March show in Pyongyang, North Korea, the Iranian concert would have been behind closed doors, as public shows by solo women are illegal. “Personally I don’t fancy going to an Iranian prison, nor am I trying to change the politics of the countries I visit, nor do I wish to put other people in danger,” the British singer wrote on social media.

Stone reportedly entered Iran, a Shi’ite theocracy, via Kish island, an economic free zone open to all nationalities, but was denied entry to the country proper as she lacked the correct paperwork. According to AFP, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Kish police as saying Stone arrived from Muscat, in Oman, on Saturday 29 June, but “lacked the necessary documents and permits” to enter Iran.

So , our very last country on the list was Iran . We were aware there couldn’t be a public concert as I am a woman and that is illegal in this country. Personally I don’t fancy going to an Iranian prison nor am I trying to change the politics of the countries I visit nor do I wish to put other people in danger. However, it seems the authority’s don’t believe we wouldn’t be playing a public show so they have popped us on what they call the ‘black list ‘ as we found out when we turned up to the immigration hall. After long discussions with the most friendly charming and welcoming immigration people the decision was made to detain us for the night and to deport us in the morning. Of course I was gutted. So close yet so far, this moment broke a little piece of my heart. Then I realised the silver lining was bright. I told them my story and explained my mission, to bring good feeling with what I have to give and show those who want to look, the positives of our globe. All with the understanding that public performance wasn’t an option in this scenario. I still have to walk forward towards that goal some way some how. And of course music is my driver. Doesn’t mean we have to brake any laws though. There is music everywhere. Even here, we just have to play by there rules and they have to believe we will. It’s a trust thing. They were so kind to us, at one point I started to question it. The question whirled around my head, were they just luring is into a false sense of security so we would walk into our jail cells quietly with out a drama? Nope , these people are genuinely nice kind people that felt bad that they couldn’t over ride the system. They didn’t speak English so well so the translator Mohamed, who clearly had a lovely soul conveyed the message that they hoped we would go to embassy to sort it all out and come back, they were refusing us entry with a heavy heart and were so sorry. After Mo had left, the officers kept telling us sorry. They said sorry all the way through this process and kept saying this till we got on the plane they were sending us away on. We were the ones that should have been apologising for not having our correct paper work. So the ball was dropped on this one and it wasn't them. They were just doing their jobs with the utmost class and compassion. So I guess the saga continues. When I left home for this leg of the tour I felt very emotional and tearful that the end was on my doorstep, achieving the goal in completeness is something I have dreamed of and worked towards but a part of me didn’t want it to end, this tour has given me more purpose than I have ever had before. Every experience has good all over it and the lightness that has been found in what we assume is a dark place has been eye opening and for me lifechanging as my understanding of reality is now so much more informed and based on more facts than I previously had to go by. So my small feeling of worry that it would end is no longer because Iran will not allow it to end. Not yet anyway. And that’s ok. Its all about the journey not the destination.So I waved good by to the police men that escorted us onto the plane with a comfort in the knowledge that yes, there are good people in every single country on our planet. This I can finally say, I know.I have to say I never imagined that being deported in Iran would be such a delightful human experience. This is a situation that could have been so so very different. It solidifies my belief further.People are good. Go with goodness and you will be met with goodnesseven if you make mistakes along the way.

Posted by Joss Stone on Wednesday, 3 July 2019


Stone said authorities “didn’t believe we would be playing a public show” and so placed her on a black list, something the touring party discovered when they arrived at immigration. “After long discussions with the most friendly, charming and welcoming immigration people, the decision was made to detain us for the night and to deport us in the morning,” she continues. “Of course I was gutted. So close yet so far – this moment broke a little piece of my heart.”

Kish police, however, dispute Stone’s version of events, saying she was never detained, and that she and her companions returned to Oman on Sunday morning.


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Iranian artists demand end to concert cancellations

Members of the music community in Iran have written to the country’s recently reelected president, Hassan Rouhani, to demand an end to the arbitrary cancellation of concerts under pressure from religious conservatives.

According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, since 2013 – when Rouhani was first elected on a platform of a more open, liberal society – numerous popular singers have seen their concerts cancelled at the last minute, with shows by females particularly affected.

Rouhani’s Iran was the most serious violator of artistic freedom in 2016, found a study by Freemuse, with artists frequently sentenced for ‘insulting the sacred’, ‘propaganda against the state’ or ‘spreading depravity’ by religious authorities. “Music has landed in the middle of the battlefield between President Rouhani’s administration and the Supreme Leader [cleric Ali Khamenei] and his religious institutions, where permissions to hold concerts given by the Ministry of Culture are withdrawn by religious authorities,” wrote the organisation.

Artistic freedom under attack in 2016

The Center for Human Rights in Iran, which describes itself as “working to protect and promote human rights in Iran”, says conservative Islamists have  frequently “justified their attacks on musicians by quoting vague statements and decrees by senior religious leaders. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has himself often warned about the alleged dangers of music, saying it will ‘lead people away from the path of God’.”

The most recent cancellation was on 28 July, when singer Shahram Nazeri and his son, Hafez, were told their show in Quchan would no longer go ahead as the venue – a sports venue for local workers – “disrespects the sentiments of […] the people of Quchan” (no further explanation was given).

Just over two months earlier, Rouhani told state-controlled news agency ISNA he supports the music industry, saying his reelection proved “that everyone [in Iran] is at peace with music”.

The most recent appeal to the president was on 2 August, when musicians’ association House of Music wrote to Rouhani asking for his support.

“Are the cancellations of lawful concerts not a clear example of the violation of the rights of musicians?”

“Ever since accepting the heavy responsibility of being a president, you have raised the issue of citizens’ rights and the need for all to enjoy and defend their legitimate rights,” the letter reads. “This has been reassuring and a great source of hope for many, especially in the music industry.

“But the question is: Are the cancellations of lawful concerts not a clear example of the violation of the rights of musicians as citizens? Who is accountable for the trampling of these rights? The government should be transparent in its support for artists by exposing and prosecuting [those] responsible for preventing concerts.”

The House of Music letter follows another petition, signed by more than 500 artists and producers, sent to Rouhani on 31 July, which also asked for a fund to be set up to reimburse musicians who have seen their shows axed.

“Preventing licensed musical performances is clearly breaking the law and an act of sabotage, and the perpetrators must be prosecuted,” said the signatories.


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