Iranian TV viewers hear music but never see musical instruments. Just as the quest for underlying meaning prompts thoughts of metaphor-filled Persian literature, the act of listening to music begs imagining seeing it performed.
The morning of Jan. 19 is now regarded as a milestone in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). On the TV morning show Sobh bekheir Iran (Good Morning Iran), the band Avaye Baran was seen performing for -- according to most sources -- a few seconds. Almost instantly, the Internet was abuzz and speculation began, interpreting this as a "turning point" following President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to break through rigid regulations.
By the same token, many hawkish critics have harshly criticized this "incident" as what they call a "mishap." Some political hard-liners and religious conservatives disapproved and deemed the airing of the performance outrageous.
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Originally on Al-Monitor's Iran Pulse.