Deeyah Khan: What we don't know about Europe's Muslim kids
Deeyah Khan - Filmmaker
Deeyah Khan is working to create intercultural dialogue and understanding by confronting the world's most complex and controversial topics. Full bio
I knew I had superpowers.
because I could understand
of brown people,
a conservative Muslim guy.
my Afghan mother, my Pakistani father,
but laid-back, fairly liberal.
of white people.
understand each other,
was always really worried.
even with the best education,
according to him.
to be accepted by white people
with me when I was seven years old.
or it's got to be music."
bless him -- so it was music.
he gathered all my toys, all my dolls,
a crappy little Casio keyboard and --
for hours and hours every single day.
for larger and larger audiences,
almost a kind of poster child
nice things about brown people,
that my superpower was growing.
walking home from school,
my favorite sweets called "salty feet."
salty licorice bits in the shape of feet.
I realize how terrible that sounds,
I absolutely love them.
in the doorway blocking my way.
and as I did that, he stopped me
you little Paki bitch,
to wipe the spit off my face,
hoping that any minute now,
and make this guy stop.
and pretended not to see me.
because I was thinking, well,
Where are they? What's going on?
coming and rescuing me?
I didn't buy the sweets.
the more successful I became,
attracting harassment from brown people.
felt that it was unacceptable
to be involved in music
to become attacked at my own concerts.
I was onstage, I lean into the audience
is a young brown face
of chemical is thrown in my eyes
and my eyes were watering
of Oslo, this time by brown men.
stopped me in the street one time,
I hate you so much
and the job of whores,
you are going to be raped
another whore like you will not be born.
to treat me like this -- how come?
the two worlds,
between my two worlds.
and the harassment was constant.
my mother sat me down and said,
we can no longer keep you safe,
I packed my suitcase and I left.
was that nobody said anything.
nobody said anything.
because she is one of us."
you know at the airport,
you have these different suitcases
that one suitcase left at the end,
the one that nobody comes to claim.
I'd never felt so lost.
I did eventually resume my music career.
the same old story.
saying that I was going to be killed
were going to flow
many times before I died.
to messages like this,
now they started threatening my family.
I left music and I moved to the US.
to do with this anymore.
going to be killed for something
it was my father's choice.
however many years of my life
for various organizations
with young Muslims inside of Europe.
were suffering and struggling.
with their families and their communities
about their honor and their reputation
and the lives of their own kids.
so alone, maybe I wasn't so weird.
of my people out there.
growing up in Europe
with people that we choose.
heartlands of Europe.
in the world, we're not free.
does not belong to us,
and their community.
and they are suffering alone.
to honor-based violence and abuse.
years of working with these young people,
being scared and hiding
going to have to do something.
that my silence, our silence,
my childhood superpower to some use
sides of these issues understand
between your family and your country.
and I started telling these stories.
the deadly consequences of us
Kurdish girl in London.
whatever her parents wanted.
that her parents chose for her,
and raped her constantly.
to her family for help, they said,
and be a better wife."
a divorced daughter on their hands
bring dishonor on the family.
her ears would bleed,
and she found a young man that she chose
and buried underneath the house.
she had been beaten to death
on the orders of her father and uncle.
in England five times asking for help,
going to be killed by her family.
so they didn't do anything.
facing these problems
and within their families' communities,
that they grow up in.
they look to the rest of us,
several people said to me,
this is just their culture,
do to their kids
being murdered is not my culture.
from backgrounds like me,
the same protections
I wanted to try and understand
Muslim kids in Europe
to have to face my worst fear:
for most of my life.
most of my life.
interviewing convicted terrorists,
what was very obvious already,
Europe's colonial baggage,
failures of recent years,
in finding out was what are the human,
are susceptible to groups like this.
was that I found wounded human beings.
that I was looking for,
it would have been very satisfying --
were torn apart
and the countries that they were born in.
is that extremist groups, terrorist groups
of these feelings of our young people
channeling that toward violence.
your family and your country
is more important than you
will always be white and never you."
the things that they crave:
a sense of belonging and purpose,
are finally seen and heard.
for our young people.
for our young people and not us?
is that we have to understand
are attracted to this.
of some of the guys in the film.
is that so many of them --
have absent or abusive fathers.
and compassionate father figures
brutalized by racist violence,
to stop feeling like victims
to my horror, that I recognized.
as a 17-year-old as I fled from Norway.
and torn between cultures.
I did not choose destruction,
instead of a gun.
is because of my superpower.
is the answer, instead of violence.
come to terms with the fact
didn't have to be on a collision course
where I found my own voice.
like I had to pick a side,
of our young people today
of radical Islam
that festers in these open wounds.
initiated into the village,
just to feel its warmth."
to meet your expectations?
why they're so angry and alienated
before their happiness?
to seek it somewhere else?
tempted by extremism,
that your rage is fueled by pain?
to resist those cynical old men
for their own profits?
a happy, full and free life?
just another dead Muslim kid?
listening to our young people?
into something more constructive?
what happens to them.
to make them feel differently?
to see them and notice them
or the perpetrators of violence?
and consider them to be our own?
of violence look like ourselves?
and heal the divisions between us?
to give up on each other or on our kids,
will not work against extremists.
to huddle in our houses in fear,
more wounds in our societies
to spread their infection more widely.
sent this photo of her daughter.
with their superpowers
that we need to build together,
About the speaker:Deeyah Khan - Filmmaker
Deeyah Khan is working to create intercultural dialogue and understanding by confronting the world's most complex and controversial topics.
Why you should listen
Deeyah Khan is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director and founder of Fuuse, a media and arts company that puts women, people from minorities and third-culture kids at the heart of telling their own stories. In 2016, Khan became the first UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for artistic freedom and creativity. She has received many honors for her work supporting freedom of expression, human rights and peace, including the Ossietzky Prize, the University of Oslo's Human Rights Award and the Peer Gynt Prize from the Parliament of Norway.
Born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry, Khan's experience of living between different cultures, both the beauty and the challenges, shapes her artistic vision. Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary, Banaz: A Love Story, chronicles the life and death of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman murdered by her family in a so-called honor killing. Khan's second film, the Grierson and Bafta award-nominated Jihad, involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis. One of Fuuse's recent initiatives, born of Deeyah’s own experiences, is sister-hood, a digital magazine and series of live events spotlighting the voices of women of Muslim heritage. Khan has also produced a number of critically acclaimed albums, including Listen to the Banned, a compilation that brought together musicians from around the world who have been subject to persecution, 'censorship and imprisonment.
The focus of Khan's work and access to voices that are often overlooked and misunderstood has led to increasing demand as a speaker at international human rights events and platforms including the United Nations. She was described by The Times of London thus: "To say Deeyah Khan is an inspiration is an understatement. She is one of the bravest, most indomitable women … facing down bullies and extremists with intelligence and unflinching spirit."
(Photo: Geir Dokken)
Deeyah Khan | Speaker | TED.com