Published August 06, 2007
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran arrested more than 200 music fans at an underground rock concert that one official called a "satanic" gathering and authorities accused the youths of breaking Islamic law.
A witness said Sunday that police raided the concert as it was ending late Wednesday near the town of Karaj, some 30 miles west of the capital.
"Police detained the young people who had gathered to enjoy music in a private orchard," said the witness, who requested anonymity for fear of government retaliation.
The arrests come during a recent crack down on "immoral behavior" in Iran, where holding mixed parties or concerts without permission has been forbidden since the 1979 Revolution that brought hardline Shiite Muslim clerics to power.
Calls to authorities were not immediately returned on Sunday. But the public prosecutor in Karaj, Ali Farhadi, said Saturday about 230 people were arrested during the concert.
"Most of them were wealthy young people who were not aware of the satanic nature of the concert," Farhadi told state television. "A female singer, who was performing, and some rock and rap music bands were among the detained."
He said concert organizers had told young people to attend if they were eager to learn how "devil worshippers" perform music.
Local media reported organizers hid cameras to tape the attendants' behavior and later blackmail them. The reports also said police confiscated large amounts of alcohol and drugs.
Boys and girls mingled and danced together during the concert, and some of the women were not wearing the modest clothing and Islamic headscarf required by law, media reports said.
Concert organizers were not available for comment.
Iranian authorities have warned the population in recent weeks to avoid what they call "immoral behavior," which includes drinking alcohol or, for women, not wearing a headscarf.
The concert participant who witnessed the police raid said many detainees were released on bail Saturday and Sunday.