Far from Brooklyn, Iraq’s hipsters are a hit on Instagram

Members of Mr Erbil, a group consisting of young fashionable Kurdish men, pose in Erbil, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2017
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Far from Brooklyn, Iraq’s hipsters are a hit on Instagram

ERBIL, Iraq: With their waxed moustaches, precision-clipped beards and dapper clothes, members of the Mr. Erbil gentleman’s club look like the smarter residents of Brooklyn or Shoreditch.
But rather than the hipster neighborhoods of New York or London, this is Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region — just 100 km from the grim battle to drive Daesh fighters from their last bastion in the country.
“When we started we were in a bad situation, economic crisis and then an expected war against Daesh,” said Goran Pshtiwan, 26, wearing a three-piece suit and custom-made moccasins decorated with the club’s logo — without socks, naturally.
“There was no business activity so we started with the idea to gather and make something different and unique and change the look of the people and the way that they are thinking.”
As well as regular meetings where they dress in different styles, from smart casual to black tie and traditional Ottoman-time attire, the club aims to support local tailors and craftsmen who help make their outfits.
Accessorized with purple-trimmed handkerchiefs, pocket watch chains and selfie-sticks, the men, in their 20s and 30s, hold photoshoots at local beauty spots, posting the results on Instagram where they have more than 60,000 followers.
The buzz has surprised co-founder Omer Nihad, a 28-year-old former stock trader, who said Star Trek actor George Takei, who has more than 2 million Twitter followers, had mentioned the club.
A recent video they shot received 5 million views, he said.
While a boy’s only club, Mr. Erbil uses its Internet platform to promote women who are working to improve rights and opportunities for girls.
Nihad said the club aimed to launch its own clothing brand, set up a shop and collaborate with fashion houses. And he would love to see Mr. Erbil featured in a high fashion magazine.
“Of course, we don’t want to be on the front page,” he said. “It is okay if we were in the middle!”


Egyptian singer Sherine banned after claiming lack of free speech

Updated 53 min 54 sec ago
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Egyptian singer Sherine banned after claiming lack of free speech

  • The singer, who hosts the Arabic version of “The Voice,” apologized again after the latest remarks in a TV interview aired late Friday, saying she was joking
  • Last year, Sherine was sentenced to six months in prison over a similar clip from a concert in which she joked that the Nile is polluted

CAIRO: An Egyptian singer has been banned from performing in her home country after suggesting that it does not respect free speech.
A video clip circulated online shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab, during a performance in Bahrain, saying: “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.”
Egypt’s Musicians Union responded late Friday by barring the singer, popularly known by her first name, from performing. It also summoned her for questioning.
Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer with a reputation for moral vigilantism and suing celebrities, filed a complaint against the singer accusing her of “insulting Egypt and inviting suspicious rights groups to interfere in Egypt’s affairs.”
Last year, Sherine was sentenced to six months in prison over a similar clip from a concert in which she joked that the Nile is polluted. The sentence was suspended upon appeal. She apologized for the remark, calling it a “bad joke.”
The singer, who hosts the Arabic version of “The Voice,” apologized again after the latest remarks in a TV interview aired late Friday, saying she was joking.
“I am very tired. I made a mistake. I am sorry. I appeal the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who is our father. I feel that I was persecuted. I did nothing. I love Egypt,” she said.
Egyptian authorities have waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi led the military overthrow of Mohammed Mursi in 2013. The local media is dominated by pro-government outlets that attack anyone seen as criticizing the country or its leaders, and several people have been jailed or fined for violating vaguely written laws outlawing such criticism.