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At 82 Is MKO Diva Bidding Farewell to Political Activism or to Music Career? Comments French Media


Darius KADIVAR Reports from Paris


Marzieh, gives unique concert at Legendary French Music hall Olympia 






"A musician cannot speak of Politics not more than a Politician can speak of Music" says Marzieh to French Daily Figaro Magazine.



Ashraf os-Sadat Morteza'I, or « Marzieh » as she has been known to Iranians for the past 50 years, is an undeniably talented music legend in her lifetime and yet certainly  the most politically controversial of Iranian expatriate artists. Her open association to the MKO ( the unpopular Peoples Mujahedineh Khalge a Marxist Islamic organization considered as a major terrorist organization by French and American governments) has baffled her most staunch and faithful admirers all the more that unlike most MKO supporters she does not subscribe to the traditional roosary so mandatory to its militants and self-elected President Maryam Rajavi.  According to a recent interview given to French Right Wing Newspaper Le Figaro. at nearly 82 the MKO Diva seems to have distanced herself from political activism ( or so it seems) by giving a unique Easter performance at the Prestigious Music Hall Olympia in Paris.


To sing at the Olympia is a dream come true for most French artists. Although renewed, the Music Hall founded by Bruno Coquatrix in 1952 ( although the construction goes back to 1888)  is certainly one of the most legendary ones in France. It has hosted such music legends as Edith Piaf, Gilbert Bécaud, rock star Johnny Hallyday, Yves Montand, Jacques Brel, Paul Anka, crooner Charles Aznavour and Liza Minelli, Egyptian Diva Oum Qoulsum, Dalida to name a few. The little known future Pop icons like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones  were to do their first performances as French singer Sylvie Vartan’s premiers. The relatively small stage allows an intimacy with the audience that actually adds extra pressure on the performers who have to challenge the audience’s high expectations.    



Marzieh gives a live performance in Iran in the 1950’s.



An admirer of the Callas and French popular singer Edith Piaf was accompanied for this unique concert by 52 Western musicians of The Opera de Paris. Belonging  to the rare group of singers to have sung in her lifetime for Queen Elisabeth II, King Hussein of Jordan, General Charles De Gaulle, German Chancellor Adenauer and US President Richard Nixon. She also sang for the Iranian Royal Family during their era in power.


On cover of a popular magazine before the Revolution.


Marzieh was born in 1926 in Tehran to an educated clergyman and a mother who belonged to an artistic family of sculptors, painters, miniaturists, musicians and singers. Her mother inspired her to sing and supported her during her entire life. She confesses “It was difficult for me to start singing in Iran as one had to have both a good voice but also a good knowledge of music. Thus I spent many years training under masters of Persian music before I formally began to sing.”


Marzieh’s first entrance in the World of arts was actually as an actress in 1942 in a famous Iranian play entitled Shirine and Farhad with the Barbad Theatre Company which was an immediate popular success. However her ambition was to become a singer and her skill was noticed by many composers, poets and song writers at that early stage. She was the first singer to take part in Tehran’s most prestigious program of the day, the Colourful Flowers in the company of the most famous masters of Persian music. She performed more than 1000 songs during her career and was distinguished for her innovating and influencing Persian Music.


Marzieh’s Concert at Olympia was announced to be apolitical
yet It did not seem to discourage members of the MKO (recognized
as a  terrorist organization by the French and US governments
to be in the crowd of admirers.


After being silenced like most artists after the revolution of 1979, Marzieh left Iran after several years and openly brought her full support to the MKO and joined them in Iraq performing concerts for their cause in Europe or the US. Marzieh's last concert In Paris at "Le Palais de Congres" was cancelled by French Interior Minister of the time Charles Pasqua because of the political nature of her concert which coincided with the trial of the assassins of former Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in 1994. The MKO in search of respectability is still considered as a terrorist organization by the French and US governments. It seeks to have its share of the 75$ million the Bush administration wishes to spend in helping the Iranian opposition abroad. Marzieh has certainly become the MKO’s best ambassador in its quest for respectability in political circles both in Europe and the United States ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime under the US military intervention in Iraq.


Marzieh and fellow admirers in the 1960’s.



However After years of political involvement with MKO, Marzieh commented to Le Figaro.  :


"A Musician cannot speak of Politics not more than a Politician can speak of Music".




Author's Note:

Some songs of Marzieh can be heard on:




About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a freelance journalist, writer and film Historian. He works and lives in France.


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