The International Cities of Refuge Network is an association of cities around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Writers have consistently been targets of politically motivated threats and persecution, and the network believes it is necessary for the international community to formulate and implement an appropriate response.

Each ICORN city focuses on one writer at a time, each writer representing the countless others in hiding, in prison or silenced forever. By providing a Guest Writer with a safe place to stay and economic security for a standard term of two years, ICORN cities make an important, practical contribution to the promotion of Freedom of Expression.

Literature in Asylum - Mosul/Ljubljana

Poetry evening with discussion

Zineb, welcome!

We are extreemly glad to greet a first guest writer of the ICORN network in LJubljana, Zineb El Rhazoui.

Zineb El Rhazoui is a journalist, writer and a Human Right's fighter from Morocco. She is a co-founder of the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI movement) that became known for the oique-nique organized during the Ramadan in 2009 in order to protest against the article of law that forbids eating in public. Zineb is also member of the Freedom and Democracy Movement better known as the 20th February Movement that strives for a real democracy in Morocco. As a graduate in Sociology of Religion she published several researches on religious minorities and the marabout cult in Journal hebdomadaire, a pionir of the independent press in Morocco, banned by the regime in January 2010. Deprived of her freedom of speech and victim of death menaces and police intimidation, especially because of her actions against the sexual harassment in public places, she applied for and joined the ICORN network in 2011. Today she lives in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, which became member of the ICORN network in June 2011. Zineb El Rhazoui was recently published in two book chapters Les 1000 unes de Charlie Hebdo (Ed. Les échappés) and Nouvelles du Maroc to which she sontributed a political short story "Ahmed le businessman" (Coll. Miniatures, Ed. Magellan)

Ali, welcome!

Ali AmarAfter the arrival of Zineb El Rhazoui we are now having the honor of receiving Ali Amar, an important figure in the Morrocan writers, journalist scene, fighting for the freedom of expression and more. Both writers are today happy to live in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, ICORN member since June 2011.

Ali Amar is a Moroccan writer and journalist. In 1997 he co-founded the Casablanca weekly ‘Le Journal hebdomadaire’ which he edited until its closure in January 2010. It was the first independent journal banned by the Moroccan regime. 

Ali Amar  holds a degree in economics and a Master in International Journalism of the City University London, UK. He has been frequently persecuted in his home country because of his "engaged pen" and his thorough inquiries about the Moroccan monarchic system.

He is author of a best-seller "Mohammed VI, le grand malentendu" (Mohammed VI, the big misunderstanding), published in France in 2009 by Calmann-Lévy. The book was censored in Morocco. His book reveals the reality of the first ten years of the reign of the Moroccan king. His second book "Paris-Marrakech : argent, pouvoir et réseaux" will be published end of January 2012 again at Calmann-Lévy editors. It decrypts the incestuous ties between Moroccan and French elites against the arab revolutions.

Ali Amar currently lives in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia that recently joined the ICORN network of cities of refuge for persecuted writers. He writes for the information site Slate.

Literary evening: Zineb el Rhazoui and Erika Johnson Debeljak

The Maribor Literature House hosted a Slovene-American wrtiter Erika Johnson Debeljak and a Morrocan writer and journalist living in Ljubljana Zineb El Rhazoui.

You can watch the video of the evening here.

Movie on ICORN

We are happy to inform that the short movie on ICORN produced by Marion
Stalens now is available on YouTube: klik here to watch the movie.


Marion is the author of a great documentary entitled Silence or Exile, made in cooperation with the Shahrazad - stories for life and ICORN that was first presented during the ICORN General Assembly series of events in Stockholm in May 2012.


The film takes an intimate look into the lives of five exiled writers as they have had essentially to start over in their new host countries. Four out of the five writers profiled in the documentary have strong ties to the ICORN network and two of the artists, Philo Ikonya and Mana Neyestani, are current guest writers in Oslo and Paris, respectively. The other writers include Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador/Iowa City), Svetlana Alexievitch (Belarus/Stockholm), and Ma Jian (China/London). More about the film.

Zineb El Rhazoui: La Vie de Mahomet

charliehebdoIcorn guest writer in Ljubljana (Slovenia)  writer Zineb El Rhazoui presented, together with the French cartoonist Charb  their new publication entitled The Life of Muhammad (La Vie de Mahomet). As Charb puts it in an interview the text of the Cartoon is very faithful to the tradition and is a fruit Zineb's careful research work, accompanied moreover with detailed sources and footnotes. The illustraitions are simply his:  »this is how I draw«, he said for the French Press Agency adding that the prophet's illustrated biography is not meant as a provocation. Zineb El Rhazoui comments that the Cartoon was published as an »hors série« but that at the same time it presents the first part of an album. She is actually working on the second part that should come out in some months. Zineb graduated in Sociology of Religion and has untill today published several researches on religious minorities and the marabout cult in morrocan »Journal hebdomadaire«.


ICORN WRITERS meet at the Days of Poetry and Wine festival in Ptuj, Slovenia.

Naimeh Doustdar Sanaye (Iran, Malmø) and Ali Amar (Morocco, Ljubljana) will speak about BEING A POET/WRITER IN EXILE on Friday, 23rd August at 11h in Ptuj Cultural house muziKafe.
The conversation will be introduced by the ICORN presentation film and moderated by Icorn coordinator Per Bergström from Malmø, Sweden.

You can find out more about the festival on:


You can find more about the writers on:

In seventeen years, the Days of Poetry and Wine festival brought to Slovenia over 400 poets from all over the world. In 2010 it found its domicile in Ptuj, where it continues the tradition of great evening readings and concerts and meetings with poets, translators, musicians, actors, storytellers, performers and other lovers of poetry, wine and warm summer evenings under the stars. If evenings are devoted especially to poets and their verse read in a multitude of world languages, afternoons are filled with events for children and opportunities for close encounters with poetic guests – either at poetic breakfasts and round table discussions or at private readings which take place on hidden and magical courtyards of Ptuj. Guest poets, who will bring their verse in their native languages, will also bring new bilingual booklets of poetry which in 2012 replaced festival collection.
Same as each year, the festival will come to life in the last days of August, from 20th to 24th August 2013, when the windows of Ptuj fly their banners with verse and when paved streets turn into poetry meadows. Lines translated into Slovenian and English, the faces of poets who you have met or may still meet in Ptuj, and other poetic fragments may be found throughout the year at the Festival website, which is turning into the largest Slovenian archive of contemporary poetry.