Deeyah Khan (Urdu: دیا خان, [d̪iːaːˈxaːn], born 7 August 1977 in Oslo, Norway), is a Norwegian film director and human rights defender of Punjabi/Pashtun descent.
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. Her debut film as director and producer, Banaz A Love Story (2012), won a Peabody and Emmy awards, and was nominated for British Royal Television Society as Best Current Affairs Documentary. Her second documentary, Jihad: A Story of the Others, received BAFTA, Grierson and Monte-Carlo Television Festival nominations for best current affairs documentary. 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.
Khan was born at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo, Norway۔ Her brother is Adil Khan, a screen and theater actor.
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.
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.
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?'".
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)
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. Amnesty International in the UK is supporting Listen To The Banned by making the album available through their website end of 2010.
2005: Plan of My Own / "I Saw You" 2005 – UK #37
1996: Deepika (Album)
1995: Color Of My Dreams (Single)
1995: History (Single)
1995: Get Off My Back (Single)
1992: I alt slags lys (Album).
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. 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.
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
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, 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. Memini was given a True Honour award by UK charity Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation along with several other UK campaigners.
In February 2012, Khan founded Honour Based Violence Awareness network with Joanne Payton of Cardiff University (HBVA), a digital resource centre working to advance understanding and awareness of Honour Killings and Honour Based Violence through research, training and information.
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.2016: Deeyah Khan appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO for artistic freedom and creativity. 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.
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.
2016: Deeyah Khan received Peer Gynt Prize which is given to individuals or institutions who have highlighted Norway internationally.
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.
2015: Deeyah was awarded the Norwegian Ministry of Arts & Culture Human Rights Award for the Fuuse documentary Jihad.
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.
2015: Deeyah was selected as a Ford Foundation Visiting Fellow for their program The Art Of Change.
2015: Deeyah was selected as Young Global Leader in the field of the arts.
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.
2013: Deeyah was shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award.
2013 Bergen International Film Festival
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 prize which is Norwegian PEN´s prize for outstanding achievements within the field of freedom of expression
2009: Deeyah was awarded the international Freedom to Create Prize alongside Cont Mhlanga, The Zimbabwean playwright and Belarus Free Theatre.
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.