- It is with great pleasure that Umeå is able warmly welcome its first ICORN resident and fulfil the intentions of the City Council. Basim has left a city where freedom of expression and democracy has been non-existent for many years. Offering him a safe space to continue his work, this reinforces Umeå’s commitment to all the brave cultural creators around the world while also adding to Umeå’s cultural life, says Tomas Wennström, Head of the Cultural Council in Umeå.
The extremist group IS took control of Basim’s home city Mosul in June 2014 and quickly introduced heavy restrictions on its population. They shut down many departments in the University of Mosul, which were deemed “anti-Islamic”. A teacher at the Fine arts Institute, this consequently led to Basim’s unemployment. All music and literature related activity, not approved by IS, was forbidden, and Basim was arrested and tortured at the hands of IS.
Basim Ahmed Jamal graduated from the Institute in Fine Arts in Mosul, and holds an MA from the Music Department at the Univeristy of Baghdad. He started the Ninevah Quartet. He also taught students at the Fine Arts Institute for Girls. During the 1990s, Basim opened Al-Rihab bookshop, which became a meeting place for a whole generation of aspiring writers, music enthusiasts, and musicians in Mosul.
Basim has written many articles about music, musicology, and the history of music and arts in general. Basim is hoping to continue his carreer in music while in Umeå, as well as to write and translate books about Arabic music. He is joined in Umeå by his wife Rahib Hussein Ali Alsaigh, who is an acknowledged writer and poet, published in many languages.
Umeå officially joined ICORN at a signing ceremony at the Gothenburg Bookfair in September 2017, and Basim Ahmed Jamal is the city’s first ICORN resident.
07.09.2017 My Newsdesk Press Release: Musiker från Irak får fristad i Umeå
07.09.2017 Sveriges Radio, P4 Västerbotten: Musikern Basim Ahmed Jamal glad över fristad i Umeå