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Censored Iranian Artists Find Refuge in Erbil

After more than 30 years of oppression and censorship following the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranians and their most beloved artists are able to celebrate their culture in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, writes Abdel Hamid Zebari.
Pirated cassettes of Iranian singers are displayed for sale at a shop in Herat December 14, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CRIME LAW MEDIA) - RTXRUNI

Over the past years, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has seen an economic boom and become open to the outside world, as it has begun to enjoy more security and stability. Private-sector companies have been organizing concerts by Iranian singers, who have traveled thousands of miles to enjoy their own music, of which they have been deprived ever since the religious parties took over in Tehran.

Thousands of Iranian men, women and youth find themselves forced to travel by car for long distances to arrive at the Iraqi city of Erbil in order to celebrate Nowruz (the Iranian New Year) and the Kurdish New Year and to go to the concerts of their favorite artists, who are banned from singing in Iran by the authorities in Tehran.

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