Deeyah speaks out at the Oslo Opera House

20 September 2012

Music has stopped in Northern Mali due to attacks from religious extremists. But even in Europe singers have been threatened and silenced. In 1996 Norwegian born Deeyah moved from Oslo to London after threats. Continuing her career in the UK, her performances however led to difficult confrontations with orthodox Muslims, whose threats eventually made it too dangerous for her to continue.

At ‘All that is Banned is Desired’ – the World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression on 25-26 October, Deeyah in a conversation with Freemuse co-founder Ole Reitov will reflect on the causes and effects of pressure against Muslim artists.

Quitting her career as a performer in 2006, she said: “Feeling unsafe and constantly worrying about my personal and my family’s safety is a huge burden and weight both emotionally and mentally. Not being able to tour and connect with my fans directly like most artists get to do without security concerns is extremely frustrating.”

In 2007 Deeyah released the album ‘Ataraxis’ featuring Police guitarist Andy Summers and Norwegian trumpet player Niels Petter Molvaer. Since then she has neither performed nor recorded.

Today she produces other artists and has recently finalised her first film documentary, ‘Banaz: A love story,’ which addresses the phenomenon of honour killings within immigrant families in Europe. In 2010 she produced the critically acclaimed ‘Listen to the Banned’ CD in collaboration with Freemuse. Published by Grappa Records, the CD features banned artists from all over the world.

On stage in Oslo she will be joined by Pakistani actor Arshad Hussain, who in 2008 was abducted by unknown kidnappers, who demanded he quit show business. Today Arshad Hussain is actively campaigning in his home town Peshawar for artistic freedom of expression and protection of artists.


Open Conference Press Release no 4 in PDF document for A4 print



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Media contacts

Marie Korpe, executive director, Freemuse:
mobile: +45 2944 4280, office: +45 3332 1017, e-mail:

Bente Roalsvig, project director, Fritt Ord Foundation:
mobile: +47 9161 3340, office: +47 2301 4643, e-mail:

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