BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Entertainment  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 11 October, 2002, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Kurdish musician plays for freedom
Banned: Music censorship as a means of control
Supressing song lyrics can be a form of puritanical control
Kurdish singer, Newroz, explains the impact that censorship has on his career.

Newroz is an Iraqi Kurd. Born in the Behedinan province in the north of Iraq, he grew up defying restrictions and sang openly in the Kurdish language.

As a result he faced imprisonment, torture and eventually exile.

A resident of London since 1989, Newroz told the BBC World Service's Outlook programme how strict censorship has affected his music.

"Iraq is like a jail for me," he asserted. "I have a mouth and tongue to speak freely and I was not allowed to sing in the Kurdish language."

Symbolic

For Newroz "singing is like breathing." An integral part of his life, since a young boy he has sung publicly.

At birthdays and weddings he sang folk and pop songs, but by his teenage years he had started to covertly sing of his political beliefs.


"Without freedom it is very difficult to live"

Newroz
Claiming that he "wanted to tell Kurdish people about their history and their language," Newroz explained how he used symbolic language in support of his nation's freedom fighters.

"If I said red poppies it meant martyrs. If I said shepherds I meant leaders or a tree represents life and if I said mother then I would be talking about the whole country Kurdistan."

Arrest

His songs of resistance became so popular that fans copied them onto cassettes and circulated them in Kurdistan.

This he believes led to his arrest by the Iraqi Ba'ath regime in 1979.

"I was detained for 22 days," he explained.

"I was forced to sign a pledge that said that if I sang against the political regime again I would have to accept the death penalty for myself."

Refusing to modify his lyrics - "changing the words would be like killing one or two of your kids and leaving the others behind" - Newroz took action.

"I couldn't go out of town without the regime's permission," he explained.

"They banned all of my songs and so I was forced to join the Kurdish revolution."

Freedom

Choosing "words over guns", for 10 years Newroz sang as he travelled across the Middle East.

"Saddam Hussein's regime was very strong," he asserted, "and without freedom it was very difficult to live."

In 1989 Newroz was granted political asylum in Britain. He continues to perform in London but one day he hopes modern communication will enable him to play in his home in Northern Iraq.

"No longer can those regimes dictate to us because we have the internet and satellites where ever we go," he explained.

"I feel this is a new life and a new hope, but one day I hope to be free to get back to my country."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kurdish singer, Newroz, speaks to Outlook
"To go back would be dangerous for me"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

13 Jun 01 | Middle East
22 Jun 01 | Middle East
29 Apr 02 | Middle East
28 Sep 02 | Country profiles
01 May 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes