Iran’s answer to pop stars: religious singers serenade Syria war

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IRAN – Bearded and boisterous, the man wearing a chequered keffiya scarf sings a religious song as several Iranians in fatigues beat their chests feverishly. The performance by Saeed Haddadian, a prominent Shi’ite religious singer, took place among volunteers at the front line in Syria and was posted on the Internet in January, a sign of the increasingly high-profile political role being played by the “maddah” – religious performers revered like pop stars among hardliners in Iran. “In a country where music is outlawed and there is no outlet for young people to expend their energy, you have to have a replacement that is more official and without problems,” said Mohammad Javad Akbarein, a former cleric and Shi’ite scholar who studied in the holy city of Qom and now lives abroad…[+]

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