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 Despite security threats, Kurdish female singers rock Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan  

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Despite security threats, Kurdish female singers rock Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan  29.4.2010 
Report by Mariwan Faydullah Salihi 

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April 29, 2010

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Five renowned Kurdish singers hold a free concert in the city of Sulaimaniyah last Sunday, April 25, under tight security measures, attracting thousands of fans throughout Iraq's Kurdistan Region and beyond.

The concert, which took place at the prestigious "Talari Hunar" [Arts Hall] in Sulaimaniyah, started around 7 p.m. with Nelissa, a new Kurdish singer who recently returned from London. A mixture of her romantic-style and Kurdish dance music made the audience go wild in the concert hall. Mera, a popular male singer took the stage over at 7.30 p.m. entertaining the audience with his latest hits.

The main attraction for the night were the two already-popular divas Dashni and Loka. Called "The Shakira of Kurdistan" by most international media, Dashni Murad [famous for her controversial western-style video clips that caused some outrage among local conservatives] crazed her fans at 8 p.m. wearing revealing black-and-diamonds outfit, while carrying the Kurdish flag.

Her western dance moves were the attention of the 2,000-plus crowd. Fans, carrying posters of the pop star and former TV presenter, were singing Hela Hopa and Hom Shika Wawa [two of her popular songs] alongside the diva.                          

"The Shakira of Kurdistan" by most international media, Dashni Murad [famous for her controversial western-style video clips that caused some outrage among local conservatives] crazed her fans wearing revealing black-and-diamonds outfit, while carrying the Kurdish flag, Dashni, a Kurdish artist from Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, living in Holland. Exclusive photo by: Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net
Famous Kurdish beauty-icon Loka Zahir, wearing traditional Kurdish clothes, finished the show. Fans screaming "Loka, Loka" out cried most of her songs. Debuting for the first time in Kurdistan Region, was the new singer Kristal; she song one song for the audience.

”I thought I was in Royal Albert Hall"


Dashni thanked all her fans from Sulaimaniyah, because according to her they are the reason of her success. "Our fans here deserved a gift and the best one was to give them a free concert; not everyone can pay a huge amount of money, so giving them a concert like this will make them happy and make us closer to them," commented the blonde artist.

Dashni Murad "The Shakira of Kurdistan" Exclusive photo by: Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net

Meanwhile, Loka thanked the organizers of the gig, Komalay Dwarozhi Kurdistan [Kurdistan Future Group] a local civil society organization based in Sulaimaniyah. She also thanked her fans in the city. "I thank them for their support and warm welcome," she added.

Nelissa, a Kurdish-British citizen, was very satisfied with the result of the concert. "We made people happy and that's very important for artists; the concert went very well…for a moment I thought I was in Royal Albert Hall [a famous concert hall in London]," she said with a perfect British accent.

The man behind the artists' success and Kurdistan Region's most famous song writer, Halkawt Zahir, was very delighted with the concert and the audience. "People in Sulaimaniyah love our songs…and the prove is this packed concert hall. My singers really made me proud tonight," he said, while also thanking the audience and the local security forces for providing a safe environment during the concert.

Fans from everywhere gather in Sulaimaniyah

Four hours before the show started, fans gathered outside the concert hall. While most of the people were from Sulaimaniyah, some of them came from places as far as Zakho [a town in Duhok Province, on the Turkish border], Kirkuk, Erbil and even neighboring Iran.


Nelissa Jabbar (Kurdish-British singer) Exclusive photo by: Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net



"I am here since yesterday…I love to see Dashni and Loka in reality," said Shivan Ali, 22, from the town of Zakho [6 hour by car from Sulaimaniyah], while carrying flowers meant for the singers. Another fan was Arazoo Hussein, 19, who came all the way from the Kurdish city of Mahabad, in Iran. "Dashni and Loka are very popular among Kurds in Iran; we watch their video clips secretly, as they are not allowed in the Islamic Republic," she mentioned.

Islamists allegedly threathen Dashni and Loka

Days before the gig commenced, large posters and advertisements announcing the event were pulled down from many public areas in Sulaimaniyah by unknown people; some speculated that the acts were done by conservative Islamists in the overwhelming secular city.

"Islamists do not want Sulaimaniyah to become more liberal, and since these singers are very modern and fashionably dressed, they are


Loka Zahir (Swiss-Kurdish singer) Exclusive photo by: Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net

automatically seen by them as a threat to the society," commented Arian Jamal, 26, a journalist from the city. "In fact, during the Friday prayers,www.ekurd.netone of the Imams warned the society from singers such as Dashni Murad and Loka Zahir," Jamal commented while laughing. But according to him, the overwhelming majority of the city's population are not influenced by the religious statements of these Islamic clerics. "Dashni, Loka and Nelissa are very popular in Sulaimaniyah…people love them here."

Tight security measures

The venue of the concert, Talari Hunar, was packed with more than 2,000 fans while thousands were left outside because of the lack of space inside the building. To avoid incidents, the security procedures were very tight. According to the woman who supervised all the security personnel without any incident, the measures were the most high-profile ever for Kurdish artists in a concert. At least one hundred security personnel were provided for the concert, including undercover police and high-ranking officers. "Women can do a hard job, as well," said Lana Ali, 30, who volunteered for the organizers of the event. All five singers thanked the local security forces for their hard work during the concert.

The artists are planning to organize more free concerts for their fans this year. "We want to go to Zakho, Duhok, Koya, Soran, Rawanduz and all other areas of Kurdistan Region to sing for our fans," concluded Dashni.


Dashni Murad "The Shakira of Kurdistan" Exclusive photo by: Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, ekurd.net



Worth mentioning, the Sulaimaniyah concert was the most packed concert for local singers in years, according to Soran Ramadan, the head of Komalay Dwarozhi Kurdistan. The event was attended by dozens of local and international media.
 

Mariwan Faydullah Salihi, journalist at Kurdish Globe and Rudaw in Erbil/Iraqi Kurdistan and regular eKurd.net contributing writer. You may reach the author via email at: mariwan.journalist (at) gmail.com  

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