SHU Students Rock for Iran’s Civil Rights in Freedom Concert

News Story: April 30, 2007

Sacred Heart University students stand in solidarity with the Iranian student movement, which is against that Middle Eastern country’s oppressive government, and will demonstrate their support through a Freedom Concert on Wednesday, April 25, 1-4 p.m., at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts.

The concert of words and music will feature guest speaker Lily Mazahery, a leading human rights lawyer and activist, and live performances by Charlie “Chaz” Cybulski, Jeff LeBlanc, Pete Grecco, Honest Abe and the Emancipators, and others to be announced.

“Our generation faces the task of solving the problems that threaten to envelop our world in war, poverty, pollution and hate. These are great challenges, but endowed with the privilege of living in a free society, we hold in our hands the ability to make a difference,” said Sophomore Jason Guberman-Pfeffer, of Stratford, a Political Science major who, together with fellow student Cybulski, came up with the concert as a means of raising students’ consciousness about human rights around the world, particularly in Iran.

The concert is a product of the University’s Middle Eastern Studies Program, which “is dedicated to engaging students in the classroom but we have a unique responsibility that, because of the nature of the Middle East and what’s going on today, we have to engage activities outside the class as well,” said June-Ann Greeley, a professor of Religious Studies and director of the University’s Middle Eastern Studies Program.

Organizers said the concert celebrates freedom, which the people of Iran are denied under the current regime. Iranian leaders forbid concerts such as the one SHU students will conduct. They prohibit women from attending sporting events, persecute minorities, censor the media and imprison dissidents.

“In Iran you wouldn’t be able to have a concert like this, you wouldn’t be able to have a female vocalist, you wouldn’t be able to have students getting together to stand up for basic issues,” Guberman-Pfeffer said.

“We have the freedom to organize this. We’re celebrating the freedom to rock. Iranians should have civil liberties and civil rights like we do. We take these rights for granted,” he said.

Organizers said the Freedom Concert is not an endorsement or statement of opposition to U.S. foreign policy towards Iran. “Freedom is a non-partisan issue. We hope that this concert will encourage the student activists in Iran and also give us a better understanding of the Iranian people who have a proud history of human rights dating back to King Cyrus the Great,” said Guberman-Pfeffer, who believes calling attention to the plight of Iranians is a moral responsibility and exemplifies the University’s mission statement of upholding “Judeo-Christian values of the God-given freedom and dignity of every human person.”

“In the words of Isaiah (58:6): ‘Undo the heavy burden of injustice and let the oppressed go free,’” he said.

Tickets are $3 per person and 20 percent of the proceeds will go to HAMSA, Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance, which unites Americans of all backgrounds to support the movement to secure civil rights in the Middle East.

The Freedom Concert is sponsored by the Middle Eastern Studies Program, Commuter Council, International Club, International/Multicultural Center, Student Events Team, College Democrats and College Republicans.