(Grégoire Sauvage’s article appeared on France24, 12/3; via Drudge Report;  Photo:  Israeli-Persian singer Liraz recorded her third album, “Roya”, with musicians from Israel and Iran. © Cem Gültepe.)

Israeli-Persian actress and singer Liraz Charhi, whose song “Zan Bezan” (“Women, Sing” in Farsi) has turned into an Iranian protest anthem, secretly collaborated with Iranian artists in Istanbul on her latest album, “Roya”. The recording challenges the Tehran regime, which forbids cooperation between Israelis and Iranians. 

In an Istanbul basement hidden from view, Israeli singer Liraz Charhi, who records as “Liraz”, brought together her Tel Aviv sextet and musicians from Tehran to create her third album in secret. “Roya” (Fantasy in Persian) was released in October. 

It was a risky project for the four musicians from Iran. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian regime has considered Israel an enemy state. Travelling to Israel or collaborating with Israelis is strictly forbidden and subject to punishment in Iran. 

The Iranian violin and tar (Persian lute) players had contributed, via the Internet, to Charhi’s second album. But this was the first time they found themselves in the same room with their Israeli colleagues in Turkey, one of the few countries accessible to Iranians without a visa. 

 To guarantee their anonymity and safety, their names do not appear on the album cover and their faces have been blurred in all the promotional photos and videos. Similar precautions were taken during a concert in a synagogue in Krakow, Poland last summer, when the Iranian musicians appeared masked. 

“It was a bit like being on a secret mission for almost a year. We knew it was dangerous, but we had agreed not to talk about it,” Charhi told FRANCE 24. “But as soon as we met, fear turned into joy and the dream became reality during the ten days of recording…it was magic.”

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