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Iran singer gets jail for "ridiculing Quran"

Mohsen Namjoo convicted for "unconventional singing"

A renowned Iranian singer and composer, Mohsen Namjoo, has been sentenced in absentia to a five-year jail term for allegedly ridiculing the Quran in a song, reformist daily Etemad Melli reported on Tuesday.

"He was sentenced on June 9 to five years in jail for insulting sanctities, ridiculing the Quran and dishonoring the holy book of the Muslims," the paper quoted a Quran scholar and plaintiff in the case, Abbas Salimi Namin, as saying.

Fars news agency, quoting an unnamed judge involved in the case, said Namjoo who has moved to Vienna was convicted for "his unconventional singing of the Quran," in a private recording four years ago.

Namjoo, who also plays the Sitar, has been described as the 'Iranian Bob Dylan.'

In September 2008, Namjoo apologized in a letter addressed to his mother, to clerics and the Iranian people, for having recorded the song and said he had never intended to release it.

According to the Iranian Koran News Agency (IKNA), the popular singer maintains he was the victim of an "unauthorized release" of his work on the Internet and planned to sue those who posted it.

His brother and lawyer, Hamid Namjoo, dismissed the charges and said the family would lodge an appeal.