In April 2011 Ljubljana became a member of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). Since 2006, more than 50 cities around the globe have joined the global network, and no less than 130 writers and artists have found shelter in an ICORN member city thus contributing to the freedom of expression in a practical way. Writers who were persecuted in their homeland as a direct consequence of their creative activities, are offered a 2 year residency to continue with their work, involved in a network of local and international cultural programmes.
In Slovenia the residency is managed by the Department for Culture of the City of Ljubljana and the Ljubljana City Library, in cooperation with the Slovene PEN Centre. So far Ljubljana has hosted Ali Amar and Zineb El Rhazoui (both from Morocco), and Girma T. Fantaye (Ethiopia). In May 2014 the Municipality of Ljubljana hosted the ICORN Network General Assembly.
In 1993 the Cities of Asylum were founded by the International Parliament of Writers (IPW) that was established by Salman Rushdie, Vaclav Havel, Margaret Drabble and Jacques Derrida among others, in response to the assassination of writers in Algeria. Though the Parliament was later on dissolved, a network of over 30 cities across the world remained active, including Stavanger where the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is based.
Residents in Slovenia
Ali Amar, a Moroccan writer and journalist, who was censored and persectued because of his inquiries into the Moroccan monarchic system, was a guest writer in Ljubljana from 2011 to 2013. During this period, the city hosted also Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist, writer and human rights advocate, who strives for a democracy in Morocco, a columnist for Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist, writer and a Human Right's fighter from Morocco and a co-founder of the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI movement) was the ICORN writer in residence of Ljubljana City of Refuge from 2011 to 2013.
Girma T. Fantaye, a co-founder and editor of the now defunct independent Amharic-language weekly Addis Neger in Ethiopia, who lives in exile since 2010, published a volume of poetry in 2012 and his debut novel in Amharic entitled SELF Meda(Field of Queue) in August 2014. In Ljubljana he worked on his second novel.
Sameer Abdullah Sayegh is an Iraqi poet, journalist and translator who arrived to Ljubljana in 2016, and Shiva Nazarahari, an Iranian journalist, blogger and human rights defender were welcomed in Ljubljana in 2018.
During their stay, the resident writers present their opus and experience at various literary venues and festivals round Slovenia. In 2012 the ICORN joined forces with the Shahrazad - stories for life European project, and invited the writers Manal al-Sheikh (Irak) and Mansur Rajih (Yemen) to join the two residents on the stage of the World Literatures - Fabula Festival in Ljubljana. The Days of Poetry and Wine Festival hosted the Naimeh Doustdar Sanaye from Iran (an ICORN resident in Sweden) in Ali Amar from Marocco, a former Ljubljana ICORN guest writer, in 2013, while the guests of a panel in 2015 were Girma T. Fantaye and Geert van Istendael, a Belgian writer, poet and essayist.