Gay icon Freddie Mercury gets official seal of approval in Iran
August 24, 2004
TEHRAN — Rock band Queen, fronted by outlandish gay icon Freddie Mercury,
have become the first rock band to be given the official seal of
approval in Iran with the release of an album of their greatest
hits, a source in the company that released the album told AFP
Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991, was proud of his Iranian
ancestry and supposed Zoroastrian origins, which made Queen one of
the most popular bands in Iran, but western music is largely
frowned upon in the Islamic republic, where homsexuality is
considered a crime.
"Authorities approved of the tunes that had a social theme,
leaving out the love songs," an executive in the company said.
The album contains smash hits such as "Bohemian Rhapsody",
"Miracle" and "I Want to Break Free".
Western music is strictly censored in Iran and those selling
foreign music need special permits, although millions of bootlegged
banned CDs and cassettes are sold on the black market throughout
The album is already selling very well. "It is the first rock
album to hit the market legally and people are surprised and
pleased to see it has the lyrics, not just the music," said Akbar
Safari, a salesman at a Tehran book and record store.
The cassette, costing less than one US dollar, comes complete
with explanatory leaflet, which tells rock fans that "Bohemian
Rhapsody" is about a young man who has accidentally killed someone
and, like Faust, sold his soul to the devil. On the night before
his execution he calls God in Arabic, "Bismillah", and so regains
his soul from Satan.
Other western acts to have had albums of selected songs released
on the official Iranian market are Elton John, Julio Iglesias and
There are also books containing original and translated lyrics
by many western singers such as Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion and even
white rap artist Eminem, published to respond to the ever
increasing demands of a nation where 70 percent of the population
is under 30. – Sapa-AFP
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