Norway: ‘Safe city’ Harstad receives Sudanese musician Abazar Hamid

abazar-hamid

Abazar Hamid

Abazar Hamid, the Sudanese peace singer who was forced into exile in 2008, is today announced as “safe city musician” in the Norwegian city Harstad.

It has been a long waiting for Hamid and Harstad. Almost two years ago the Norwegian city declared itself “the world’s first safe city for musicians”, but Norwegian immigration policy and bureaucracy delayed the process and in the meantime two Swedish cities, Gothenburg and Malmö received other Freemuse safe city candidates – Khaled Harara and Ramy Essam.

While struggling with censorship in Khartoum, Abazar Hamid hoped to bring peace to Sudan with his music. He traveled to rural areas of the country in 2008 where he tried to reform the traditional Arab ‘hate singers’ known as the Janjaweed women. These efforts and his criticism of a corrupt government made him several dangerous enemies and in fear of his life he had to flee the country and went into exile in Cairo, Egypt.

When Hamid came to Cairo, Freemuse introduced him to people working in the music and arts sector, and soon after Abazar Hamid was able to create his own network and band.

In an interview with Freemuse in 2011, Hamid told how everything is affected by censorship in Sudan. Hamid joined a Freemuse MENA network meeting and the following years – in spite of several threats from Sudanese exiles in Cairo – he was co-organising Music Freedom Day in Cairo for several years.

“Freemuse has been in contact and visited Abazar Hamid several times in his exile in Cairo during all these years. So when Harstad requested candidates for their residency through our network partner SafeMUSE, we suggested Abazar Hamid,” said Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director.

Abazar Hamid was one of the artists featured on the CD ‘Listen to the banned’ produced by Deeyah and Freemuse in 2010.


Interview with Abazar Hamid

This interview with Abazar Hamid was recorded by Freemuse Officer Martin Buch Larsen in Cairo, Egypt, in June 2011. More info on www.freemuse.org/archives/5036

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