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News Link • Iraq

Beats replace bombs: young Iraqis revel at summer festival

•, AFP

Neon red, yellow and white stage lights helped transform the basketball court in the People's Stadium in central Baghdad into a club for the "Summer Festival", the first celebration of its kind in the city.

The party started at noon with a car show: classic cars, souped-up four-wheelers and motorcycles with proud owners revving their engines.

As the DJ took the stage, boys and girls alike swayed and sang along to Western tunes, alternated with popular Iraqi hits.

Though there were only a few young women among the 1,000 or so revellers, their presence was notable in a country where public spaces remain conservative.

"I love this type of music," said Layan, a 19-year-old woman in a leather black top and full makeup.

"I hear a lot of people say that we're influenced by the West. Fine, there's no difference to me -- the important thing is I don't have to listen to this music at home in secret anymore," she said, pumping her fist into the air.

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