Speaking to the Persian service of MNA on Sunday, Rahbari said, “Such a response from those Iranian artists who have received the honors could be really challenging and creative, and their actions would storm the press media around the globe.”
He also said, “I have worked with numerous orchestras in nearly all large cities of France and have many friends in the country, but I was really surprised by Macron’s comments, because no politician should make remarks like him.”
“I know many French people and I am sure they do not think the same as Mr. Macron, because they know such an action could threaten the lives of many people. In any case, France has a large Muslim population and it’s not rational to violate people’s freedom in the name of another freedom,” he added.
Rahbari, the former conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, also stated, “I believe that nobody should use the concept of ‘freedom of expression’ to insult Muslims whose population reaches over one billion people around the world. Freedom of expression is certainly desirable, but if I deliberately make comments or do something hurtful to others, this is no longer freedom of expression.”
The Europe-based musician noted, “Although the European countries where I myself and many other people live enjoy freedom of expression, they have their own rules. For example, if someone does something insulting to Judaism, he/she will be treated very harshly.”
In 2014, in an open letter, Rahbari asked his fellow Iranian musician Hossein Alizadeh to reject the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor award, the highest decoration awarded by the French government.
Rahbari had called the frequent commemorations of Iranian luminaries by the French embassy “an epidemic of Chevalier” and said, “The value that the Iranian people place on Mr. Alizadeh is not comparable with any domestic or foreign medal.”
Consequently, Alizadeh declined to accept the order, stating that he doesn’t need decorations and that he derives satisfaction from his good name.