Iran bars con­duc­tor Baren­boim, thwart­ing Tehran con­cert plans

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Iran has barred famed con­duc­tor Daniel Baren­boim from en­ter­ing the Is­lamic re­pub­lic be­cause of his Is­raeli cit­i­zen­ship, thwart­ing his plan to lead a per­for­mance in Tehran, media re­ported Sun­day.

Baren­boim, the 72- year- old gen­eral mu­sic di­rec­tor of the Ber­lin State Opera House, said Thurs­day he was in talks with Iran about a con­cert, in what would have been a ma­jor ex­am­ple of cul­tural diplo­macy.

But an Ira­nian cul­ture min­istry spokesman, Hos­sein Noushabadi, said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion meant Baren­boim could not en­ter the coun­try for “se­cu­rity rea­sons,” though the Ber­lin or­ches­tra was welcome.

“We have no prob­lem with the Ger­man or­ches­tra com­ing to Iran, but we are op­posed to the per­son lead­ing that group,” Noushabadi said, quoted by news agency ISNA.

“He has mul­ti­ple na­tion­al­i­ties and one of them is Is­raeli. For se­cu­rity rea­sons and to pre­vent is­sues fol­low­ing the en­try of cer­tain peo­ple into Iran, we stopped it.”

Baren­boim also holds Ar­gen­tinian and Pales­tinian cit­i­zen­ship.

“Our re­views re­vealed that the con­duc­tor has na­tion­al­ity and iden­tity de­pen­dence to Is­rael, was raised in Is­rael and his par­ents have also lived there,” Noushabadi added.

“So the sus­pi­cion of him be­ing re­lated to that coun­try, which is il­le­git­i­mate to us, was there.”

Iran does not rec­og­nize Is­rael as a state, usu­ally re­fer­ring to its lead­ers as “the Zion­ist regime.”

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter FrankWal­ter Stein­meier, who is ex­pected in Oc­to­ber to travel to Tehran fol­low­ing a July 14 nu­clear deal be­tween Iran and six world pow­ers, had agreed to back the con­cert.

Stein­meier did so be­cause he “sup­ports Daniel Baren­boim’s ded­i­ca­tion to mak­ing mu­sic ac­ces­si­ble to all peo­ple, ir­re­spec­tive of na­tional, re­li­gious or eth­nic bound­aries,” a state­ment said.

Is­rael has been the world’s most vo­cal op­po­nent of the nu­clear agree­ment be­tween Iran and the United States, the UK, main­land China, France, Rus­sia and Ger­many.

Baren­boim’s plans had drawn an an­gry re­sponse from Is­rael, whose Cul­ture Min­is­ter Miri Regev said she in­tended to send a let­ter of protest to Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel ask­ing her to block the con­cert.

She ac­cused Baren­boim — who founded a ground­break­ing youth or­ches­tra called the West-Eastern Di­van Or­ches­tra in 1999 bring­ing to­gether Is­raeli, Egyp­tian, Ira­nian, Jor­da­nian, Le­banese and Pales­tinian mu­si­cians — of “us­ing cul­ture as a plat­form for his anti-Is­rael po­lit­i­cal views.”

He is also con­tro­ver­sial in Is­rael for his ef­forts to have the mu­sic of Richard Wag­ner, the Ger­man com­poser adored by Adolf Hitler, per­formed in the Jewish state.

The prom­i­nent Jewish rights group, the Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre, also hit out at the con­cert plans.

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