Join us in demanding justice for Seif Yehia and Ibraheem Sadoon. In November 2007, Yehia, 23, was beheaded for singing western songs at weddings, and Sadoon, a painter, was shot dead as he drove through Baghdad. According to the Iraqi Artists’ Association, in the first five years of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, at least 115 singers, 65 actors and 60 painters were killed – many by Islamic radicals determined to eradicate all culture associated with the West. Cinemas, art galleries and concert halls were targeted in grenade and mortar attacks in Basra and Baghdad.
Out of fear, people stopped listening to music in public, a fellow Iraqi singer told the “Guardian” at the time. Pop music, in particular, was no longer being played. Remaining artists tried to get themselves and their families to safety. In 2008, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture estimated that about 80 per cent of artists had fled.