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"We're An Islamic Republic" - Iran Bans Foreign Sunglasses And Musical Instruments

Tehran authorities have drafted a list of "luxury" imports it will block, citing both financial and religious motivations.

​A man with a beanie playing the violon in Tehran, Iran

A man playing the violon in Tehran, Iran

Iran's customs are clamping down on imports of musical instruments and sunglasses, which are on a list of foreign "luxury goods" the country has banned. Reports were not entirely clear whether the ban relates more to religious or economic concerns. The country is currently under Western sanctions and short of foreign exchange.

Beyond the financial crisis, Iran's clerical regime also has fraught relations with music and the arts, and broadly opposes modern, Western or "vulgar" music that leads to "indecency."

It has likewise never hidden its disdain for Western clothing or styles, which can include sunglasses, T-shirts and neckties, discouraging youngsters from attempting to look fashionable.

On November 28, the local ISNA news agency reported on the confiscation in the southern port of Bushehr, of 11 containers including Yamaha musical instruments. The ban, it stated, was in place since 2019-20, and it cited the head of state customs, Mehdi Mirashrafi, as saying that the law clearly did not allow imports of instruments.

Those who want musical instruments for their personal satisfaction can leave Iran.

A deputy head of parliament's Economic Committee, Kazem Musavi, has said separately that "Importing musical instruments is not in the country's interests, because we are an Islamic Republic. Why should anyone import musical instruments into the country when we have so many martyrs and theologians?" By martyrs, he was referring to hundreds of thousands of Iranians who died in the 1980-88 war against Iraq.

Musavi told the Iranian website Dideban-e Iran, "Musical instruments and similar objects aren't worth spending any time on them... My colleagues and I, as servants of the people, are concerned day and night with people's livelihoods, and that's it."

Nor, he added, are sunglasses, "essential goods we need to import. It makes no difference to people's lives whether or not we have sunglasses and instruments. Those who want musical instruments, or personal satisfaction, can leave Iran."

The law, he said, can add a provision for people who need sunglasses for medical reasons, but even there, he added, given the country's conditions, "provided their importation doesn't use up foreign exchange."

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