Iran / UK: ‘The exile factor’ in The X Factor tv show

7 September 2009
After numerous arrests, the Iranian singer Behrouz Ghaemi fled Iran to pursue his singing dream in the United Kingdom. On 29 August 2009 he became famous overnight there when he impressed the judges of the tv-show ‘The X Factor’, watched by 11.8 million viewers

After the show, the 29-year-old Freddie Mercury lookalike told the press how he was often arrested for performing with his band in Iran. Classically-trained Behrouz Ghaemi left his mother, father, two brothers and a sister behind when he fled to the UK, and according to the Daily Star Sunday, he fears that he may never see them again. The newspaper reported him sighing as he talked about how much he missed them: “And now, because I’ve done The X Factor, I can never go back. If I did they would probably shoot me at the airport. ”

Behrouz Ghaemi also told the Daily Star Sunday:

“I used to be in an underground band and we played our music in secret. My family supported me. My father even bought me my guitar and got me a teacher to help me play it. At that time playing an instrument was like committing a crime and my father could have been put in jail. Really, he was risking his life to help me.”

Already from the age of four, Behrouz Ghaemi would sing to entertain his family. He constantly fought the system and got arrested and jailed countless times. He recalled to The Star:

“If they found you with a guitar they’d smash it up. You’d get thrown into a cell for a couple of days. They would break your cassettes if you were found listening to music in a car. Now I am able to play without fear I realise how valuable it is to be free.”

Ban on Western shows
Iran recently blocked the BBC from transmitting its Persian TV service into the country over fears it would spark political unrest.

Authorities in Iran generally have banned the broadcast of Western shows — including the British ‘X Factor’ show. But within hours of Behrouz Ghaemi ’s audition being aired, a friend in Iran downloaded an illegal copy from the web, burned it to DVD and showed it to Behrouz Ghaemi ’s mother.

“I am finally following my lifelong dream of making music,” said Behrouz Ghaemi.



Behrouz Ghaemi
Click to read more about music censorship in Iran

Google News – continuously updated:

Search: ‘Behrouz Ghaemi’

Daily Star – 30 August 2009:

‘I fear the x fatwa’

The Sun – 31 August 2009:
‘AXis of evil’

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