Deeyah Khan

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Deeyah Khan
دیا خان
Born (1977-08-07) August 7, 1977 (age 41)
Oslo, Norway
OccupationFilm director
Founder & CEO of Fuuse
Years active1992–present
Known forBanaz a Love Story
White Right: Meeting The Enemy

Deeyah Khan (Urdu: دیا خان‎, pronounced [di:j^ kʰɑːn], born 7 August 1977) is a Norwegian British documentary film director and human rights defender[1] of Punjabi/Pashtun descent. Deeyah is a two-time Emmy Award winner and the recipient of two BAFTA nominations.

Her debut film as director and producer, Banaz A Love Story (2012) about the “honour” killing of a British-Kurdish woman won an Emmy, Peabody and received a British Royal Television Society nomination.

Her second documentary, Jihad: A Story of the Others, nominated for a BAFTA, Grierson and Monte-Carlo Television Festival involved two years interviewing Islamic extremists and convicted terrorists. Her 2017 documentary White Right: Meeting The Enemy was also Bafta-nominated and won an Emmy award for Best International Current Affairs Documentary in 2018— this film saw Deeyah travel to the United States where she shadowed neo-Nazis at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

She is the founder and CEO of production company Fuuse, which specializes in documentary films, digital media platforms and content for television broadcasters and live events.

She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of sister-hood Magazine which spotlights the diverse voices of women of Muslim heritage and is among her most personal Fuuse productions.

In 2016 Khan became the inaugural UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity.


Birth and ancestry[edit]

Khan was born at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo, Norway to Sunni Muslim parents, her mother being Afghan and her father being Pakistani [2][3] Her brother is Adil Khan, a screen and theater actor.

Music training and early career[edit]

Khan started her career as a music artist, a singer and stage performer in the public eye in Norway from the age of 7. At first she was a singer and performer of traditional South Asian classical and folk music, then became a composer and producer of world music. Khan's father was a music enthusiast and in 1984 placed his seven-year-old daughter under the supervision of Ustad Bade Fateh Ali Khan. Deeyah studied Pakistani and North Indian classical forms of music under him.[4]

At the age of eight, Deeyah made her first performance on national television appearing on the primetime show Halv Sju, then performed at festivals. Deeyah was also the member of NRK girls choir as well receiving some music lessons with African American soprano Anne Brown. She also spent several years receiving further musical training from Ustad Sultan Khan.[5]

Because music is considered to be a dishonourable profession for women in many Muslim communities Khan faced severe abuse and death threats for several years in Norway. Initially the harassment and condemnation were directed towards her parents: "I remember my dad having to defend the fact that I was doing music, even as a child. I remember this at eight, nine years old where ... various people come to the house and say, 'We don't even let our sons do it, why would you let your daughter do this?'".[6]

Despite the increased pressure and threats of violence Khan's family continued to support her. After being attacked on stage at her own concert and sustained intimidation she subsequently moved to London at the age of 17 to live and work. She continued to compose and produce music and she recorded her last CD (Ataraxis) as a vocalist in 2006 which featured jazz pianist Bob James, Police guitarist Andy Summers and Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. Khan has continued to work in the music industry as a music producer including creating platforms for musicians and artists who are persecuted or discriminated against for their creative expression.


  • 2013: Iranian Woman (compilation album featuring Iranian female artists)[7]
  • 2013: Echoes Of Indus CD featuring Pakistani sitarist Ashraf Sharif Khan Poonchwala
  • 2012: Nordic Woman (compilation album featuring female artists of traditional Nordic music forms from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. The first release from Deeyah's WOMAN music album series. Produced by Deeyah.)
  • 2010: Listen To The Banned (compilation album featuring banned, persecuted and imprisoned artists from Africa, The Middle East and Asia. As well as receiving critical acclaim the album peaked at number 6 on the World Music Charts Europe and spent months on these charts.[8] Amnesty International in the UK is supporting Listen To The Banned by making the album available through their website end of 2010.[9]
  • 2007: Ataraxis(Album) [10]
  • 2005: Plan of My Own / "I Saw You" 2005 – UK #37[11]
  • 1996: Deepika (Album)[12]
  • 1995: Color Of My Dreams (Single)[13]
  • 1995: History (Single)[14]
  • 1995: Get Off My Back (Single)[15]
  • 1992: I alt slags lys (Album).[16]


Deeyah made her directorial debut with the documentary Banaz A Love Story.The film received its UK premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London September 2012.[17] This was Deeyah's first film as a director and producer. It has won critical acclaim and international awards, including the 2013 Emmy award for best international documentary film. The film is being used to train British police about honor killings.[18]


Year Title Functioned as Note Type
2017 White Right: Meeting The Enemy Director and Producer Won Emmy Award in the Current Affairs category[19]. Won PeaceJam Special Jury award [20] . Won Rory Peck Award for Current Affairs category.[21]. Won Asian Media Awards for Best investigation category [22]. Nomination for Royal Television Society in Director - Documentary/Factual & Non Drama category [23].Nomination for 2018 British Academy Film Awards in Best Current Affairs Documentary.[24]. Nomination for Frontline Club Awards in Broadcasting category[25]. Documentary
2016 Islam's Non-Believers Director and Producer Nomination for Asian Media Awards in the ‘Best Investigation’ category for 2017.[26] Documentary
2015 Jihad: A Story of the Others Director and Producer Won New York International Independent Film and Video Festival award as Best Short Documentary. Received Arts Council Norway Human Rights Award for the documentary Jihad.[27] Nomination for Grierson Awards.[28] Nomination for British Academy Film Awards in Best Current Affairs Documentary.[29] Nomination for the 56th Golden Nymph Award in Current Affair's Documentary at Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Nomination for Creative Diversity Network Awards in Best Current Affairs Program category.[30] Documentary
2012 Banaz a Love Story Director and Producer Won a Peabody Award (2013). Won Emmy Award for Best International Documentary Film (2013). Won Bergen International Film Festival award for Best Norwegian Documentary (2013). Royal Television Society nomination for Best Current Affairs Documentary. Documentary


Deeyah is founder and CEO of Fuuse which is a multi platform independent media company based in Oslo and London. Started in 2010 Fuuse is a production company that tells the stories of marginalized people particularly highlighting the voices of women, people from minorities and third culture kids. Fuuse creates documentary films and produces an online magazine which promotes the diverse voices of women of Muslim heritage called sister-hood and the company produces live events and conferences in the intersection of art and activism

Views and activism[edit]

Deeyah is an outspoken activist for human rights, freedom of expression, peace and equality. Deeyah actively addresses women’s rights. Deeyah has written opinion pieces for publications including The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Mirror, The Times, ITV and VG. Khan is a strong critic of far-right politics and campaigns extensively against racism and anti-immigration policies. She is also known for challenging the growing radicalization and extremism within Muslim communities. Deeyah conceived of and founded Sister-hood in 2007,[31] whose aim is to provide an outlet of artistic expression for young aspiring Muslim female artists in different disciplines. Sister-hood was relaunched in 2016 as a global online magazine and live events platform promoting the voices of women of Muslim heritage.

Khan founded Memini in early 2011, a global digital initiative to promote remembrance of victims of honour killings worldwide.[32] Memini was given a True Honour award by UK charity Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation along with several other UK campaigners.[33]

In February 2012, Khan founded Honour Based Violence Awareness network with Joanne Payton of Cardiff University[34] (HBVA), a digital resource centre working to advance understanding and awareness of Honour Killings and Honour Based Violence through research, training and information.[35]

In 2016, Deeyah delivered a TED talk titled: "What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care”. She shares her experiences of being the child of an Afghan mother and Pakistani father raised in Norway, stuck between her family's community and her country. In her emotional talk she unearths the rejection and isolation felt by many Muslim kids growing up in the West — and the deadly consequences of not embracing youth before extremist groups do.[36]

Awards, nominations, honors[edit]

  • 2018: Deeyah Khan was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Emerson College for her achievements as a documentary film-maker[37]. Previous recipients of honorary degrees from Emerson College include former Tonight Show host Jay Leno, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, and Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC's Good Morning America.
  • 2017: Deeyah Khan appointed as a member of the governing body of Arts Council Norway.[38] The appointment is valid for four years (2018 – 2021).
  • 2016: Deeyah Khan appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO for artistic freedom and creativity.[39] She is the not just the first ever Norwegian who has been appointed as a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO, but also the first ever goodwill ambassador for artistic freedom and creativity.[40]
  • 2016: Deeyah Khan received Telenor Culture Award for her artistic achievements which touch on some of the most important themes of our own times, like women`s rights, freedom of expression and its fundamental values.[41]
  • 2016: Deeyah Khan received Peer Gynt Prize which is given to individuals or institutions who have highlighted Norway internationally.[42]
  • 2016: Deeyah Khan was Awarded Gunnar Sønstebys Memorial Fund, which was established in 2015, in the memory of Gunnar Sønsteby. The purpose of this award is to honour those individuals or organisations who has emerged as a courageous defender of the fundamental values of democracy and helped to ensure the country's freedom and independence.[43]
  • 2015: Deeyah was awarded the Norwegian Ministry of Arts & Culture Human Rights Award for the Fuuse documentary Jihad.[44]
  • 2015: Deeyah was awarded the University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award for being a champion of women's rights and freedom of expression through her art and activism.[45]
  • 2015: Deeyah was selected as a Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow for their program The Art Of Change.[46]
  • 2015: Deeyah was selected as Young Global Leader in the field of the arts.[47]
  • 2015: Deeyah was awarded Plan Jentepris (Girls award which is held on every 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child) from its Norwegian branch.[48]
  • 2013: Deeyah was shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award.[49]
  • 2013 Bergen International Film Festival[50]
  • 2013: Deeyah received an Emmy Award for Best International Current Affairs Film for her film about Banaz.
  • 2013: Deeyah received a Peabody Award for her film about Banaz Mahmod.
  • 2012: Deeyah was awarded the Ossietzky Award which is Norwegian PEN´s prize for outstanding achievements within the field of freedom of expression[51]
  • 2009: Deeyah was awarded the international Freedom to Create Prize alongside Cont Mhlanga, The Zimbabwean playwright and Belarus Free Theatre.[52]
  • 1996: The Scheiblers Legat presented to Khan an Honor Award for being a cultural bridge, for creating understanding and tolerance through her musical and artistic contributions.[53]


  1. ^ "10 Music Artistes Who Support The Cause To End Violence Against Women activist". Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  2. ^ Lorena G. Maldonado (18 December 2017). "Deeyah Khan, la cineasta musulmana que se cuela en las fiestas de los nazis" (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  3. ^ زاوية كبرى (December 2017). "دياه خان : "هم اختاروا السلاح، وأنا الكاميرا"" (in Arabic). Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  4. ^ ""Artistic Freedom is complementary to press freedom with Deeyah Khan, Goodwill Ambassador": Interview". 27 March 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  5. ^ Reginald Massey (6 January 2012). "Sultan Khan obituary". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  6. ^ "CNN LIVE TODAY". 27 March 2006. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  7. ^ Robin Denselow (24 October 2013). "Various: Deeyah presents Iranian Woman – review". Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  8. ^ "World Music Charts Europe". July 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  9. ^ Listen To The Banned – Amnesty International UK Shop. Order Online Anytime Archived 9 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 148. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  12. ^ "Deepika". 1996. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Deepika Thathaal". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  14. ^ MAGNUS S. RØNNINGEN (12 August 2003). "Deepika trosser truslene". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Release title: Deepika Thathaal - Get Off My Back". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Deepika– I alt slags lys". 1992. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  17. ^ Orestes Kouzof. "Banaz: A Love Story". Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  18. ^ Tracy McVeigh (13 October 2013). "Her film about an 'honour' killing won an Emmy. Now it's being used to train police". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Ny Emmy-pris til Deeyah Khan – for filmen der hun møtte fienden" (in Norwegian). 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  20. ^ NTB (22 June 2018). "Deeyah Khans høyreekstremist-dokumentar vant pris i Monte Carlo" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  21. ^ Rory Peck Trust (1 November 2018). "WOMEN FREELANCERS TRIUMPH AT RORY PECK AWARDS 2018". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  22. ^ RajBaddhan (26 October 2018). "The Asian Media Awards 2018 were held on Thursday 25th October at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  23. ^ RTS (5 November 2018). "Nominations for RTS Craft & Design Awards 2018 announced". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  24. ^ "CURRENT AFFAIRS". 4 April 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Shortlist 2018". 7 October 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Asian Media Awards 2017 Finalists". 21 September 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  27. ^ Sveinung Stoveland (4 November 2015). "Deeyah Khan får menneskerettspris for modig film om religiøse krigere" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  28. ^ NTB (29 July 2016). "Deeyah Khan nominert til prestisjetung britisk dokumentarpris for Jihad-film" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  29. ^ "Television in 2016-Television/Current Affairs on 2016". 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  30. ^ Chris Curtis (22 May 2017). "Shortlist revealed for CDN Awards 2017". Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  31. ^ Vixy. "Deeyah Presents SISTERHOOD". Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  32. ^ "IKWRO announces winners of True Honour Awards 2011". 6 December 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  33. ^ Vixy. "Deeyah Presents SISTERHOOD". Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  34. ^ "HBVA".
  35. ^ Denise Turner (28 February 2012). "Activist launches new Honour Based Violence Awareness network". Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  36. ^ "What We Don't Know About Europe's Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care". April 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  38. ^ Press release (15 December 2017). "Nye medlemmer til Norsk kulturråd" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  39. ^ UNESCO Press release (17 November 2016). "Filmmaker, music producer Deeyah Khan named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for artistic freedom and creativity". Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  40. ^ Kadafi Zaman (1 November 2016). "Ble mobbet og truet ut av Norge – nå blir hun Norges første goodwill-ambassadør for FN" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  41. ^ NTB (6 September 2016). "Deeyah Khan:Får kulturpris på en halv million" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  42. ^ HARALD STANGHELLE (12 August 2016). "En flyktning med sin Peer Gynt" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  43. ^ Paal Wergeland, Ida Creed (8 January 2016). "Sønstebys minnepris til Khan og Bakkevig" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  44. ^ "Menneskerettspris til Deeyah Khan" (in Norwegian). 4 November 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  45. ^ "Art of Change Fellow Deeyah Khan is Awarded the University of Oslo's Human Rights Award". 21 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  46. ^ "The Art of Change: Meet Our Visiting Fellows". 7 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  47. ^ "Young Global Leaders: the class of 2015". 12 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  48. ^ Claudio Castello (13 October 2015). "Filmskaper fikk Plans Jentepris 2015" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  49. ^ "Liberty honours human rights heroes in annual awards ceremony". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  50. ^ "RECORD IN AUDIENCE NUMBERS AT BIFF 2013". Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  51. ^ "Deeyah mottok årets Ossietzkypris" (in Norwegian). 11 December 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  52. ^ "Muslim singer Deeyah wins Freedom Award". 1 December 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  53. ^ "Prisvinnere 1993 - 1998" (in Norwegian). 24 June 1998. Retrieved 21 April 2017.

External links[edit]