It may just be a song, but it’s a powerful song with a long history. Released in 1979, "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)" paints the picture of a most repressive regime – boarding school. It’s only fitting that Toronto’s Blurred Vision has used Pink Floyd's most well-known piece (with Roger Waters' blessing) to bring to our minds another repressive regime that got the world’s attention in the same year – Iran. Replacing the headmaster with an ayatollah, two Iranian brothers Sohl and Sepp (they don’t go by their full names for fear of government reprisals against other family members) drive the point home. I’m not going to ruin the whole thing for you. Watch it here:
(If the Flash above doesn't work, watch it on YouTube here.)
While it’s great to see Blurred Vision, U2, and others bringing attention to the repressive insanity that defines Iranian life, what struck me as particularly interesting is that in a recent Guardian interview with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (the head cheese), he quite casually asserts that music is halal. But: "Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic." I seem to recall my parents telling me that it wasn’t for us to make the halal haram, and vice-versa. (Mind you, that was because I was a vegetarian at the time. Still, the point holds.) Khamenei wants to encourage the yoots to take up sport or essential and useful things, like science. My favourite bit from the article:
Iran has rarely given permission to concerts, as it fears that the opposition might use it as an opportunity to express itself, said Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Iran's most prolific and popular classical vocalist.
"They are afraid of my concerts because of those moments before the concert is begun, when the whole hall is in silence and darkness when someone suddenly shouts 'death to dictator' and everybody accompanies and they are unable to identify that person," Shajarian said.
I wonder exactly what kind of music Khamenei considers halal? Well-tuned screams from his torture chambers? According to his pre-revolutionary cellmate, Houshang Asadi, he’s always hated music, except for “revolutionary and religious anthems.” Guy sounds like a party.
Someone want to tell me why he’d hate music and love sport? Could it be because sport and other such behaviours can foster a pack mentality, and the us vs. them way of thinking that’s so common to paranoid types? Other than the obviously well-founded hate between the Mods and the Rockers, music doesn’t generally lead to us vs. them. Hmm... actually, I have always hated the Counting Crows. There goes my hypothesis.
Anyway, here’s hoping this is one piece of music that pushes the revolution to the next stage of evolution.