Mohammad Reza Shajarian jokingly hints at cancer in a Newroz video posted on You tube.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - With tears in his eyes, iconic Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian said he would return to his homeland from Canada once he comes to terms with old “friend” – an indirect reference to the kidney cancer he has suffered for some 15 years.
On the eve of Newroz – the Persian New Year – the 76-year-old, who has been a household name for decades, hinted for the first time in a video message that he has been suffering from cancer. Despite rumors and reports of kidney cancer, the cultural icon himself had never openly talked about his illness.
In the video published on YouTube Saturday, he said he would be staying a little while longer in Canada before returning home.
“I have been living with a guest that is my friend now for 15 years,” said Shajarian, referring to his illness. Referring humorously to the loss of his hair from chemotherapy, he said: “I have stayed here and cut my hair on his (my friend’s) order.”
“I am going stay here a little while more because I am at peace here, and my friend and I need some more time to agree on some issues,” he added.
Shajarian, who remains a legend in Iran for his renditions of some of Iran’s most famous classical poets, said he would resume his career once allowed by his health.
The couched revelation of his disease became a hot topic for his fans, who bombarded social media sites with comments and prayers.
“Thousands of prayers to accompany Ostad (master) Shajarian,” wrote Payam Hosseini, a Kurdish director from Iranian Kurdistan.
“With God’s blessing Ostad Shajarian will be back in two to three months,” Iranian Health Minister Syed Hassan Hashemi said, together with a picture of Shajarian on Instagram.
Shajarian was born in 1940 in the Iranian city of Mashhad. Unlike most other Iranian singers, his songs have straddled both the era of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarch and imposed a clerical regime that has imposed strict restrictions on music and other art.
Nevertheless, the artist lost official support from Iran’s public broadcaster after speaking out in favor of the pro-democracy June 2009 protests that preceded presidential elections.
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