A Kurdish pop star has crashed the media scene from the Middle East to Cannes to Los Angeles with a call for peace and unity while wearing golden heels, military camos and confronting the Islamic State, on video. Helly Luv’s kind of protest music against the dark forces of Daesh (ISIS) isn’t your usual protest or pop music. She is young, outspoken, beautiful and to use a western term "hella sexy." That’s probably what scares Daesh and why they issued death threats against her for setting a bad example for Muslim women. Even fundamentalists in her own Kurdistan were upset when she first broke out, so she went into hiding and eventually consented to an interview to try and set the record straight and it seems to have worked. She came back to her culture, went on to star as Leila in the movie Mardan, visited refugee camps and Peshmerga forces and they willingly take part in her videos.
You can start with Helly Luv’s Facebook page to connect with her campaigns and personas. There’s the title track, Revolution, to her breakout album and her first hit, Risk It All. Yes she’s a gorgeous singer, actress and uber-model, who literally crashed the Cannes Film Festival to promote the film “Peshmerga” which is a documentary yet will probably be called propaganda in some quarters. In truth 40 percent of the Peshmerga and the YPJ fighters in northern Syria are women, this also scares Daesh for religious reasons, since being killed by a woman in battle denies their entrance into Paradise. The Kurds are defending their homeland against a brutal invading force that despises freedom, disrespects all religions and governments except their own fundamentalist versions, and are prone to ethnic cleansing and genocidal behavior. Sound familiar?
Her campaign to get onto the Ellen DeGeneres Show could be viewed as a career move but she’s the real deal when compared with other pop stars who have great SFX but lack SOUL. She is a refugee success (Kurdistan, Iran, Turkey, Finland, Los Angeles, New York) and is determined to spread the message she learned and earned by embracing her culture. That message of peace, unity and freedom is powerfully needed all around the world.
The Kurds are the American Indians of the Middle East. They’ve had generations of broken promises and been sold out by American politicians and their own alleged governments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They number only 5 million and have been subject to poison gas attacks and genocidal policies. Geo-politics have made them a tribal people without sovereignty, yet oil resources in their territory make them a player. The Middle East was carved into nation-states by European powers to get to the oil while ignoring tribal and religious realities on the ground, leading to unstable regimes.
We all got tricked into these endless wars as predicted by George Orwell and have seen our country bankrupted by Wall Street and the 1% who are the only ones to profit as our physical and political infrastructures deteriorate and implode. Politicians will not support outright sovereignty for the Kurds, even though they have been the most successful military option in the war against Daesh, they present a geo-political problem for neo-cons and neo-liberals. They are an independent people that soon will forge their own nation after generations of struggle.
Some Native Americans tribes were promised statehood after the American Revolution in turn for their support but a cash-strapped Congress could not pay their soldiers, who in turn took our lands. Now the USA says it is broke, social issues erupt because the Congress that is paid to do nothing has cut human and community services. And the coming Revolution may very well be televised in this country. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “Iraq presents a business opportunity.” Turkish President/Dictator Erdogan cuts deals to bring in refugees stranded in Europe as pawns in his agenda to gain EU acceptance while sending US drones to kill Kurds he calls terrorists, even as corrupt Turkish officials buy Islamic State oil to sell on the black market. Yes, it is convoluted, complicated and we are all complicit somehow.
Helly Luv was born into this media age and knows not to be quoted criticizing the geo-political players, just that Kurdistan needs help since they are dying on the frontlines of this relentless war. “I don’t have a gun but I have a voice,” she says on her website. Its people power and women power she represents. Of the Kurdish women fighters of the YPJ, she says to the Islamic State, “You should be afraid of these women.”
To all the haters, critics and cynics, Hell Luv’s response is, “I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.”
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Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.