Kurdish-American singer Helly Luv dismisses threats from Islamist groups over music video / “WELCOME, HELLY!”

By Orlando Crowcroft in Erbil – The Guardian – 21-2-2014 –  A Kurdish singer has shrugged off death threats from Islamist groups and vowed to continue filming her music videos in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Helen Abdulla – known as ‘Helly Luv’ – released her debut video, Risk it All, on 3 February and has since received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. But the video, which sees the 25-year-old throw a petrol bomb, drape herself over a lion and dance with AK47-waving female Peshmerga soldiers, has provoked the ire of some Islamist groups in Iraqi Kurdistan. “[She’s had] various death threats … mainly through social media,” said her manager, Gawain Bracy, chief executive at G2 music group. “We do not wish to publish names of these Islamic groups because we do not wish to glorify [their] actions.” Bracy said that despite the threats Abdulla – whose family fled Iraq in 1988 before settling in Finland – was back in Iraqi Kurdistan working on a follow-up to her first video, albeit this time with a security detail.

Speaking to the Guardian, Abdulla said she was not surprised that her video had attracted so much attention. “I wanted to create something that would be almost like revolution, something new and that’s never been done in Kurdistan. I knew it would [make a] noise,” she said. “I do have strong symbols in my video, like the Molotov cocktail, which I break [so] people see and hear what I have to say. “The Peshmerga women in the video are a symbol for our strong women that have been fighting for our country and [for] independence.” But she stressed that the attention has been largely positive, especially for her outspoken views on Kurdish independence.

A 2005 referendum saw 98.8% vote in favour of an independent Kurdish state in north Iraq, and the largely autonomous Kurdish regionwww.Ekurd.net has enjoyed relative stability and economic prosperity in comparison with the war-torn south of Iraq. “‘Risk It All” means risking everything for your dreams and love. Personally as a Kurd I believe we all as Kurds have one dream, and that is independence,” she said. But while Abdulla is keen to continue making her music videos in Iraqi Kurdistan, she has an eye on the international market. She has been based in the US since she was 18, and has worked with Carlos McKinney – a Grammy–nominated American record producer and jazz pianist – and the R&B songwriter and producer The-Dream. More recently, she is due to play the lead role in a new film by Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi and says she has been offered a role in a new movie with Jennifer Lopez. “Even though I am Kurdish I am still focused more on the international market. My dream is just to inspire people to risk it all and not give up,” she said.”As for Kurdistan, I am even more excited and proud of my country for how far it has come. The future is very bright and I can’t wait for the day [we can] raise the Kurdish flag on independence day.”