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Senior Iran cleric faces down culture minister over concerts

In Iran, a conservative cleric is continuing to block musical concerts in defiance of the Culture Ministry, leading others to do the same, undercutting the authority of President Hassan Rouhani.
Iranian musicians perform during a concert at the Interior Ministry building in Tehran April 24, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN) - RTR1ZUUW
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TEHRAN, Iran — In the campaigning leading up to Iran’s 2013 presidential vote, among the most important promises of Hassan Rouhani were those on cultural issues. After winning the election, Rouhani named Ali Jannati as his minister of culture and Islamic guidance to fulfill his promises. However, since day one, Jannati, who is a moderate son of ultra-conservative Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has faced resistance from both hard-liners and Reformists.

Hard-liners say Jannati is crossing the red lines of the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s values, while Reformists charge that he is retreating in the face of criticism and attacks by conservatives.

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