The Islamic Republic of Iran recently warned travel agencies in Tehran against marketing tours abroad featuring concerts by Iranian pop singers based in California.
The new order was issued by the Islamic Republic’s General Directorate of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts of Tehran Province and targets tours marketed by Iran-based agencies containing performances by diaspora singers that occur in neighboring countries.
The action highlights a growing tension between the Iranian authorities and artists from the diaspora.
In a letter directed to travel and tourism agencies in Tehran, Parham Janfeshan, the director-general of cultural heritage and tourism in Iran’s capitol, raised certain travel agencies advertising and selling tickets for concerts by Iranian singers from Los Angeles.
The letter underscored the urgency of abiding by “Islamic values” and warned against potential violations.
The new warning includes threats that the travel offices involved in the promotion and transaction services related to such concerts will be referred to a committee for a decision on possible penalties.
Hormatollah Rafiei, the head of the Islamic Republic’s Guild for Travel Service Offices and Tourism, warned against violations and emphasized that travel agencies operating permits exclude the right to promote such concerts.
Iranian-Amercian pop stars are primarily based in Los Angeles and are banned from performing in their homeland. Many of these singers have drawn crowds during tours in countries like Turkey, the UAE, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian community and has witnessed large swaths of anti-Islamic Republic protest rallies, especially since the start of the Women, Life, Freedom movement in 2022.
Since 2022, the Islamic Republic has warned its citizens not to attend such concerts in neighboring Middle Eastern countries. Following the nationwide revolt, sparked by the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic morality police over her hijab wear, hundreds of Iranian Americans in California and elsewhere in the United States rallied behind the protests along with numerous exiled Iranian stars.
State-run media outlets in Tehran have consistently published reports criticizing the Los Angeles singers, alleging that such individuals take advantage of popular protests for personal gain.
Despite the large following and support for the protests from various California-based Iranian artists, the Islamic Republic continues to ramp up its targeting of young singers, journalists, teachers, and women who continue to speak out against its brutal repression.