Friday, October 7, 2022

Heated debate over an Iranian musician’s failure to accept prestigious French award rages

Ali Moalem has taken a swipe at Mohammad-Reza Shajarian; Hossein Alizadeh’s refusal to accept a French prize still triggers debate.

Leading classical composer Hossein Alizadeh’s refusal to accept France’s Chevalier of Legion of Honor has been a hot-button issue in Iran over the past few days. Internationally-acclaimed vocalist Mohammad-Reza Shajarian described it as “objection to those among us who have taken and still take advantage of such awards”. IFP released a translation of his reaction to Alizadeh’s move on Tuesday.

Today, Haft-e Sobh, a daily, carried a front-page piece on what Ali Moalem, the head of the Iranian Academy of Arts and a poet whose poems mainly have a revolutionary theme, said in response to the comments of Shajarian. The following is a partial translation of his strongly-worded criticism of Shajarian:


There is still confrontation [between us and the West]. In a showdown when two sides have lined up against each other, it is impossible for the army of our enemy to honor our commanders with awards. [If it happened,] it would convey the wrong message; that’s why those who are wise, including Alizadeh, don’t accept such an honor.

Some individuals like Dariush Mehrjui [an Iranian director], and Mohammad-Reza Shajarian judge themselves by such titles. Based on such judgment, people realize that these individuals don’t want to be on this side [Iranian side]; rather they prefer to get an award from the other side [our enemy]. […] This is a confrontation where one won’t welcome any thing that makes him indebted to the enemy.

I may have been offered such an award! Why would they want to offer me such a prize? Because their world is not like ours; they denounce us as primitive and backward, and no award is offered to someone for backwardness. They offer this award to someone to say that this individual is like them and has got a lot in common with them.

These awards reflect their interest in advertising. Whether such awards should be accepted or turned down requires tactfulness. A wise individual should size up everything to see if it is worth accepting the award. If it results in remorsefulness later, they should not accept it.

Anyway, they [the West] act in a way that is beneficial to them. […] Shajarian has taken two or three missteps of late. For instance, his famous pre-Iftar prayer which was a fixture [on radio and TV before sunset during the fasting month of Ramadan] touched people and made them pray for him. Why did he ask the prayer to be taken off the air? I think such a move cannot stem from wisdom.

Or what he has done on stage of late does not fit his status. A figure who has always performed with dignity and grace on the stage is not expected to depict behaviors which are suitable for [people as young as] his son and are typical of teenagers. He is a mentor who is not supposed to show such manners. […] I wish he had valued himself.

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