Kyrgyz singer receives death threats over feminist video

Zere Asylbek’s music video ‘Kyz’ has angered conservatives who say it insults national values, focusing on the singer’s visible underwear. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2018
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Kyrgyz singer receives death threats over feminist video

  • Zere Asylbek’s music video ‘Kyz’ became a sensation in the Central Asian country following its release last week
  • In the video Asylbek sings that ‘a time will come when nobody will tell me: Don’t wear it, don’t do it’

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: A 19-year-old singer in Kyrgyzstan has filed a complaint with police after receiving death threats over a music video she released targeting gender discrimination in the ex-Soviet republic.
Zere Asylbek’s music video “Kyz” became a sensation in the Central Asian country following its release last week but has angered conservatives who say it insults national values, focusing on the singer’s visible underwear.
Asylbek said that she had filed reports with police in the capital Bishkek after receiving numerous threats of physical violence including several death threats.
One threat posted by an anonymous Facebook profile to a group on the social media platform threatened to kill her if the video was not deleted.
Another user whose post Asylbek sent as a screenshot to AFP wrote that they “would gladly join” the first commentator, and “rip your head off.”
“Kyz,” which means girl in the Kyrgyz language had had more than 217,000 views on YouTube by Friday and is Asylbek’s first released song.
Asylbek said on Thursday that the video’s main message was to “respect the person you really are” while also “respecting the choices, opinions and ways of life of others.”
The video features Asylbek dressed in a suit jacket and skirt with a purple bra underneath, a woman wearing a hijab, a woman wearing a Kyrgzy-style headscarf and a woman with a partly shaved head, showing Kyrgyz society’s diversity.
In the video Asylbek sings that “a time will come when nobody will tell me: Don’t wear it, don’t do it.”
She also calls on the other women featured in the clip to “join me, create our own freedom.”
Asylbek said that she had expected her choice of different women representing different facets of society to be understood as provocative but was surprised at the online attention devoted to her purple bra.
In a Facebook post her father Asylbek Zhoodonbekov voiced support, calling his daughter “a free-thinking daughter of a free Kyrgyzstan.”
He said she had grown more politically conscious after a recent incident in which a man killed a young woman in a police station after attempting to abduct her for a forced marriage.
The murder in May sparked protests in Kyrgyzstan, a poor, majority-Muslim country where thousands of women are kidnapped for marriage every year in a practice dating back to the country’s nomadic past while law enforcement is accused of ignoring the problem.


New E! channel reality show follows women across the Mideast

Updated 15 December 2018
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New E! channel reality show follows women across the Mideast

DUBAI: US TV channel E! is set to premiere a new show about the Middle East’s female entrepreneurs on Dec. 23. Here are six of the stars who will feature in “Generation M.E.”

Dana Al-Tuwarish
The Kuwaiti influencer and entrepreneur will host the show and is already a well-known name in the region with her two million Instagram followers and numerous beauty ventures.
Arwa Al-Banawi
The Saudi designer launched her own fashion line in 2015 and recently made headlines when Will Smith and his son, Jaden, popped into her Dubai Design District showroom for a visit in October.
Tara Khattar
The New York-based Lebanese chef is a fast-rising star on the culinary scene and at just 25-years-old has already appeared on “Top Chef France.”
Manal Rostom
In May, the Egyptian marathon-runner and mountaineer became the first Arab woman to be featured on the Global Nike+ Run Club App.
Joelle Mardinian
The Lebanese beauty entrepreneur launched her chain salon Maison de Joelle in 2008 and it now has branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha, Tunisia and Kurdistan.
Hanan Mazouzi
The Algerian car-lover founded the UAE’s first women-only supercar club, the Arabian Gazelles, and has been featured in everything from CNN to Vogue magazine.