Accessibility links

Breaking News

Uzbek Pop Singer Banned From Performing After Wearing 'Immoral' Pants

Uzbek singer Kaniza (file photo)
Uzbek singer Kaniza (file photo)

Uzbek pop singer Shahrizoda Ahmedova, better known as Kaniza, is fighting back after her license to perform in the country was suspended by music industry regulators for wearing what they called an "immoral" outfit.

"All members of the panel have unilaterally approved the decision to revoke Ahmedova's license. She has been given a serious warning and, if she can make amends within a month, she can reapply for a license," Deputy Culture Minister Bahodir Ahmedov told Uzbek media on February 24.

Ahmedov warned that "more serious measures will be taken if she doesn't correct her mistakes." The official said the one-month ban for Kaniza -- which means "servant" in Uzbek -- should serve as an example to other performers.

The outfit in question was a pair of flesh-colored, tight-fitting trousers that Kaniza donned with a long white shirt, dark leather jacket, and knee-high boots during a recent performance at a wedding.

Some social-media users wrongly accused the singer of appearing "without trousers" after a video of the performance was shared on YouTube and other sites.

Kaniza, 37, is fighting back, saying she hasn't done anything wrong.

The singer reportedly accused unnamed officials at the Culture Ministry as well as Uzbekkonsert -- the regulatory body of Uzbekistan's music industry -- of abusing their positions.

She said the authorities should instead target the performers "who use obscene language" during concerts in front of thousands of spectators or those who really "appear in revealing clothes."

The singer claimed that music industry officials take a favor performers who have connections and money. "Everybody knows about this special treatment...but no one says anything about it," she said.

Kaniza added that she performed for free in "villages and dusty [cotton] fields" with the authorities' permission, but the Culture Ministry and Uzbekkonsert don't appreciate her work.

She claims that officials ordered her to perform in concerts that were supposed to be gratis but, in reality, "people paid for the concerts and the money went into certain people's pockets."

Kaniza says she wants a face-to-face meeting with Culture Minister Ozodbek Nazarbekov and the head of Uzbekkonsert "to tell them the truth and hear their side of the story."

Kaniza threatened to go to the officials' offices with her lawyer and independent journalists and stay there until they meet with her.

She also condemned her critics on social media, saying that in a country with more than 30 million people there must be more pressing issues "than my pants" for them to focus on.

Authorities in Uzbekistan, a predominantly Muslim country, frequently target performers for their choice of clothes, their behavior in videos, or for lyrics deemed inappropriate.

In a controversial set of rules introduced in 2018, Uzbekkonsert said singers must not show tattoos, wear skimpy outfits, or perform "unsuitable" dance moves.

It also banned promoting materialism by "showing off" expensive cars and mansions in music videos.

In 2016, pop singer Aziza Niyazmatova was censured after she posted a photo of herself in a sleeveless dress. Authorities ordered a probe to determine whether Niyazmatova's "shameless" choice of dress had "insulted the audience's feelings [and disrespected] the national mentality, values, and culture."

In 2015, female singer Lola Yuldosheva was issued an official warning over a dress that exposed her legs during a concert.

A comedy troupe called Million had its license revoked indefinitely in 2014 over jokes authorities found "inappropriate" and of a "sexual nature."

Written by Farangis Najibullah