Vietnam: Popular music and censorship

The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship, and the few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party or its policies face serious consequences. Focusing on popular musicians, this article charts the history of music censorship in Vietnam from the mid twentieth century through to the current digital era. […]

Ukraine: Government to bar blacklisted Russian singers in European song contest

The Ukrainian government said on 9 September 2016 that it would deny entry into the country to blacklisted Russian singers competing for the 62nd Eurovision contest set to take place in capital Kiev in May 2017 if they are found to support the separatist cause stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, reported Reuters on 9 […]

Morocco: News site publishes blacklist of artists with alleged ties to Israel

On 9 September 2016, Moroccan news site Noon Presse published its own blacklist of seven Moroccan performers and artists who have “normalised” relations with Israel, which means, according to the site, that the artists have chosen “to go against the flow” by “unashamedly visiting Israel or communicating with Israelis”. The blacklist includes three musicians, two […]

USA: Christian music festival drops band due to gay singer

Christian band Everyday Sunday was dropped from northern California Christian music festival Joshua Fest as 11 production staff threatened to walk out if the recently out lead singer of the band, Trey Pearson, took the stage, reported Billboard on 12 September 2016. Joshua Fest owner Aaron Diello said that his production manager told him that out […]

Australia: Singer received death threats after asking group to stop using songs

Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes revealed on ABC’s Q&A show on 19 September 2016 that he and his family were sent death threats after he asked anti-immigration groups to stop using his songs at their rallies because he didn’t want him or his music to be “associated with hate speech”, reported The Sydney Morning Herald […]

Somalia: Concert cancelled for “objectionable” shows in Europe

A concert with singer Nasteexo Indho, along with DJ Subeer and the singers from Stars of the Horn, was cancelled one hour before it was scheduled to begin on 13 August 2016 in Hargeisa as armed soldiers surrounded the DJ and a young TV cameraman, informing them of the cancellation and that Nasteexo would be […]

Turkey: Court acquits musician of blasphemy charges after four-year ordeal

An Istanbul court acquitted pianist Fazıl Say on 7 September 2016 of blasphemy charges after a four-year legal battle stemming from a 2012 post he re-tweeted consisting of lines written by 11th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 7 September 2016. The pianist went to trial in October 2012 after three […]

Greece: Artistic freedom at stake

Censorship incidents and controversies over artworks have multiplied over the last few years in Greece, particularly since the crisis hit the country in 2008. At the same time, legal controversies over blasphemous and obscene publications continue while hate crimes are on the rise, as exemplified by the murder of young rapper Fyssas in 2014.   […]

Iran: Jailed artists go on hunger strike

According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, have gone on hunger strike as of 7 September 2016 to protest against prison authorities not granting Mehdi a promised furlough to seek medical attention for a spreading infection and for separating them by moving Mehdi, while still ill, to the section […]

USA: Schools reverse radio station ban on buses

Portland Public Schools in the capital of US western state Oregon have gone back on their ban of particular radio stations on public school buses, which included radio stations playing rap music, reported Oregon Live on 30 August 2016. A memo sent out by director of student transportation Teri Brady on 9 March 2016 listed […]

Mauritania: Rapper harassed and attacked by police

Police stopped Mauritanian rapper Yëro Gaynääko (real name Yéro Abdoulaye Sow) on 16 August 2016 while on the road back to the capital Nouakchott, forcibly removing the rapper out of the car, accusing him of being drugged and taking him to a police station where he was assaulted and verbally abused, reported human rights organisation […]

Sierra Leone: Musician allegedly censored due to political song

Popular musician Emmerson Bockarie claims the government has banned him from playing a concert in Sierra Leone capital Freetown and a radio DJ has said that his station manager told him to not play the artist’s latest hit ‘Munku Boss Pan Matches’ (‘A Kid in a Candy Store’), a 15-minute song that criticises the government […]

Burundi: Musician received death threats ahead of trip home

Burundian musician Kidum Kibido (real name Jean-Pierre Nimbona) said he received death threats via social media in advance of returning home for a performance in capital Bujumbura that took place on 3 September 2016, reported The Rwanda Focus on 16 August 2016. The musician, who fled Burundi in 1995 due to political instability and made […]

Iran: Concerts in the crosshairs

Religious conservatives in Iran have been tightening control over the nation’s cultural and moral values ever since the 2013 election of liberal President Hassan Rouhani and the 2015 nuclear deal, amidst fears that the country will lose its values to Western influences. Art, especially music and live concerts, has become one such target for religious […]

Malaysia: Artist released on bail; investigation pending

Malaysian artist Namewee was released on bail in Penang on 25 August 2016 after four days in detention over charges that a recent video he starred in, directed and produced allegedly insulted Islam, reported Reuters on 25 August 2016. Penang district police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said they have referred the case to the Penang […]

Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

Authorities arrested Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) on 23 August 2016 on charges of “spreading depravity among the youth” brought up in an 8 August 2016 judicial order, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 25 August 2016. “Sadly, this latest imprisonment of Amir Tataloo is not an isolated case. Iranian governmental and […]

Malaysia: Artist detained over allegedly “insulting Islam” in music video

Police detained Malaysian artist Namewee upon his return from being abroad on 21 August 2016 at the Kuala Lampur airport and are investigating him after groups filed reports that his latest music video “insulted Islam”, reported The Star Online on 22 August 2016. “Malaysian authorities must release Namewee and drop all charges against him,” said Freemuse […]

Turkey: Singer’s concerts cancelled due to coup-related remarks

The Turkish government cancelled four concerts by pop star Sıla Gençoğlu over comments she made about a democracy rally held in Istanbul on 7 August 2016 in the aftermath of an attempted coup that happened a month earlier, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 11 August 2016.  “I am absolutely against the coup, but I prefer […]

Sweden: Metal band allegedly receives threats after cancelling gig

Swedish metal band Black Ingvars have reported receiving multiple anonymous death threats after they decided to pull out of a summer festival organised by far-right, nationalist party Swedish Democrats, reported Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on 8 August 2016. “I have received emails where people write that they hope I’ll die in a car crash or suffer […]

Germany: Music festival attacked by suicide bomber

A 27-year-old Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up outside an open air music festival in the southern German town of Ansbach on 24 July 2016 after security guards turned him away for not having a ticket, reported The Guardian on 25 July 2016. The incident happened on the final evening of the three-day Ansbach Open […]

China: State agency reportedly bans South Korean stars over diplomatic feud

Officials from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television have allegedly passed down “verbal orders” to TV stations that approvals for South Korean programmes or those featuring South Korean stars would not be granted for the time being, reported South China Morning Post on 2 August 2016. Further, according to the new […]

Uzbekistan: Suspended artists and instrument bans

Ever-tightening restrictions on musicians and artists continue to take their toll in Uzbekistan as state-run arts association Uzbeknavo revoked the licenses of three pop artists for holding performances abroad to lacklustre audience numbers, reported Uzbek news outlet UZ24 on 20 July 2016. Uzbeknavo license department head Odiljon Abdukahhar said the association stripped singers Sitora Farmonova, […]

Malaysia: Rapper threatened with censorship and arrest

Police plan to arrest rapper Namewee (real name Wee Meng Chee) when he returns to Malaysia over his recent video for a song he performed with Taiwanese hip hop trio Jiu Yi Yi (Nine One One) called ‘Oh My God’, which has allegedly insulted religion, reported Free Malaysia Today on 2 August 2016. Penang police […]

Tanzania: Rapper banned from music industry indefinitely

The Tanzanian National Arts Council (Basata) banned popular rapper Nay wa Mitego (real name Emmanuel Elibariki) from participating in the music industry indefinitely due to “immoral content” in his latest song ‘Pale Kati Patamu’, reported Tanzanian news outlet The Citizen on 28 July 2016. “We have barred him from performing in Tanzania indefinitely,” Basata executive […]

Pakistan: Music returns to region amid scepticism

The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the north-western region of Pakistan, announced a fund to support 500 artists, including musicians, in the area by giving them $300 USD per month to create and practice their art, reported Al Jazeera on 27 May 2016. Apart from the fund, the government is also planning on spending $5 […]

USA: Anti-Donald Trump song censored

US presidential nominee Donald Trump and the secret service demanded changes be made to two songs by rapper YG on his latest album released in June 2016 for anti-Trump lyrics, reported entertainment news outlet Vulture on 16 June 2016. The two censored songs – ‘FDT’ (an abbreviation for Fuck Donald Trump) and ‘Blacks and Browns’ […]

Saint Kitts and Nevis: US rapper arrested, fined for profane lyrics

Local police in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis arrested US rapper 50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson) on 25 June 2016 for using “indecent language” onstage during one of his songs. The rapper later pleaded guilty to the offence, paid a fine of USD $1,100 and was released, reported Rolling Stone […]

Somalia: Security forces arrest musician

Security forces in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, arrested musician Farhan Hidig (Farxaan Xidig) in late June 2016 due to him visiting Mogadishu and remains in custody, according to Freemuse sources. According to local media sources the musician was arrested in connection to his political activity. Somaliland authorities have not commented yet on Hidig’s arrest. While […]

Saudi Arabia: Emir bans playing and carrying of musical instruments in region

Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal of the eastern region of Makkah banned the playing and carrying of musical instruments, headphones and speakers in public places within all governorates in the region on 16 June 2016, reported several local news sources, including the Saudi Gazette, Emirates 24/7 and Gulf Digital News, on 16 June 2016. The directive […]

Ukraine: Belarusian singer denied entry due to Crimea concert

Belarusian singer Max Korzh was denied entry into Ukraine on 17 February 2016 where he was due to go on his five-city tour in the country in early March, reported BBC Ukraine on 26 February 2016. While organisers said the tour would be postponed until later in the year, press secretary for Ukraine’s security service […]

Malta: Rock band dropped from festival over frontman’s Facebook posts

Maltese rock band Brikkuni have been dropped from the Farsons Beer Festival by the beverage company due to Facebook comments lead singer Mario Vella posted about the prime minister’s wife, reported Malta Today on 27 June 2016. Vella’s post was covered extensively by the prime minister’s party media company which asked if Farsons would react […]

Poland: Ukrainian band stopped at border due to local threats

Polish authorities did not let Ukrainian band Ot Vinta cross the border into Poland as local hard-core football fans known as Ultras threatened to stage mass riots and burn down the stage the band was set to perform on if they were let into the country. The band was scheduled to play in a festival […]

China: American singer banned due to Dalai Lama meeting

American pop star Lady Gaga is the latest addition to the ever-growing list of artists banned by China for their meetings with the Dalai Lama or stances on Tibet, reported The Guardian on 28 June 2016. The singer met with the Dalai Lama on 26 June 2016 at the US Conference of Mayors for approximately […]

Nigeria: Musician kidnapped, found, later detained allegedly due to song

Musician Ado Daukaka was abducted in Adamawa State in north-eastern Nigeria in the early hours of 25 June 2016 just after the release of his latest anti-corruption song ‘Gyara Kayanka’ (‘Put your house in order’), and found five days later on 29 June 2016 unconscious in some bushes 80 kilometres away from state capital of […]

Chile/USA: Former military officer convicted for murdering singer Victor Jara

On 27 June 2016, a jury in Orlando, USA, ordered the former Chilean military officer Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez to pay US$28 million in damages to Chilean singer Victor Jara’s widow and daughters. The court found the 67-year-old former senior military officer, who lives in the US, liable for the torture and murder of the […]

Pakistan: Famed Sufi singer killed in drive-by shooting

Freemuse calls for counter narratives to religious extremism On 22 June 2016, one of Pakistan’s most famous singers Amjad Sabri died in the port town of Karachi after two gunmen on a motorbike shot the singer in his car just a kilometre after leaving his home. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killing, reported […]

Turkey: Music fans attacked at Radiohead store event

Music fans enjoying a special worldwide release event on 17 June 2016 for rock band Radiohead’s latest album at record store Velvet Indieground in the Cihangir district of Istanbul were attacked by a mob of about 20 men who took offense to people listening to music and drinking alcohol during Ramadan, reported The Guardian 18 […]

Nigeria: Singer’s songs banned by DJ association after on-stage slap

The Nigerian Association of Deejays (DJAN) lifted its ban on Terry G’s songs after the singer publicly apologised for slapping DJ Phriz on stage at a show in a Lagos club on 5 June 2016, reported Nigerian online news source Pulse on 21 June 2016. On 8 June 2016, Pulse reported that DJAN, an association […]

South Sudan: Minister bans foreign music on radio station

Joseph Natale Subuni, the minister of information and communications of the newly created Gbudwe State in South Sudan, banned the playing of foreign music over local Yambio FM radio while giving a public commemoration speech, reported Paris-based news site Sudan Tribune on 16 May 2016. “With effect from now, no more playing foreign music over […]

Ghana: Music union calls for regulation on obscene lyrics

The Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has urged musicians to refrain from using profane and obscene lyrics in their songs, asked radio and tv station operators to act as gatekeepers in this regard, and called upon Parliament to step in where the National Media Commission has failed to regulate what music goes on the airwaves, […]

Gambia: Music banned during Ramadan

A Gambian state police statement issued on 6 June 2016 announced a ban on music, drumming and dance in “all ceremonies, festivities and programmes” taking place, day or night, during the holy month of Ramadan, reported Nigerian newspaper Punch on 9 June 2016. The statement warned that “all those engaged” in playing music or dance […]

Georgia: Conservative religious group disrupts rock festival

A group of priests and conservative Orthodox Christian activists attempted to violently shut down the annual Tbilisi JAM Fest, a two-day, open-air international rock festival on the outskirts of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, reported Georgia Today on 5 June 2016. The group showed up at the festival location on 4 June 2016 in the Zahesi suburbs […]

Egypt: Heavy metal concert cancelled, three arrested

Concert promoter and musician Nader Sadek, along with two others, were arrested by Giza police when they stopped a heavy metal concert on 4 June 2016 featuring Brazilian band Sepultura before it even started due to a lack of permits, reported Ahram Online on 5 June 2016. Head of the Giza Security Directorate General Ahmed […]

Iran: Eight producers arrested for “obscene” music videos

Eight producers of music videos broadcasted on Persian-language satellite networks outside Iran have been arrested, reported Iranian judiciary news agency Mizan Online on 28 May 2016. According to Tehran prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi the videos were “obscene” and “broadcast on a famous anti-revolutionary television channel” and added that a special court for media and […]

Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker imprisoned

According to Freemuse sources musicians Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian were imprisoned for their art on 5 June 2016. They have been convicted to three years imprisonment. Please help us in getting the charges dropped against the three artists and freeing Mehdi, Hossein and Yousef by taking action and sharing the video below and using […]

Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker summoned to prison

A summons order issued on 27 May 2016 by Iranian authorities requires musicians Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian to turn themselves in to prison by 31 May 2016 to serve out their three-year sentences. The summons orders them to report to the Office of the Prosecutor at Tehran’s Evin Prison. “Art is […]

France: Music festivals cancel Eagles of Death Metal performances

Music festival organisers in France have cancelled performances by the American band Eagles of Death Metal following controversial remarks by its frontman, reported various international news providers. The band’s Bataclan concert in Paris in November 2015 was attacked by terrorists, who shot and killed 89 people there. Eagles of Death Metal’s leadsinger Jesse Hughes had […]

Afghanistan: Kandahar authorities ban broadcast of songs by women

Local Ministry of Information and Culture authorities in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan have banned women’s songs from being broadcast across local media, directly affecting the 11 radio stations in operation in the area, reported Afghanistan’s TOLONews on 23 May 2016. Head of Wranga Radio in Kandahar told TOLONews that “local officials in Kandahar […]

Iran: Concerts cancelled under pressure from religious conservatives

This article on cancelled concerts and the nebulous state of artistic freedom due to opposing viewpoints between religious conservatives and the government in Iran was originally published by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on 19 May 2016, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to republish it here: Concerts of Popular Iranian Musicians Cancelled Due […]

Tanzania: Artist banned from performing due to “immoral” video

Snura Mushi’s latest popular hit ‘Chura’ has not only led Tanzanian authorities to ban the video and its distribution on 4 May 2016, just days after the video hit the internet, but they have also banned the artist from performing until the video is edited, Tanzanian newspaper Daily News reported on 5 May 2016. The […]

France: Mayor cancels WWI centenary concert over rapper’s “anti-France” lyrics

Verdun city mayor Samuel Hazard cancelled French rapper Black M’s concert commemorating the 100-year anniversary of WWI’s Battle of Verdun due to protests fuelled by far-right website’s fdesouche.com post on the rapper’s “anti-France” and homophobic lyrics, reported French radio station RFI on 14 May 2016. The site, along with National Front party members, in particular […]

Nigeria: Broadcast authority blacklists yet another one of rapper’s songs

Nigerian hip hop star Olamide has had a fourth song, ‘Don’t Stop’, placed on the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) blacklist in less than a year, reported The Net on 16 March 2016. In a statement, NBC said it banned the song from the country’s airwaves due to its “obscenity, being indecent, [and having] vulgar languages, […]

Turkey: “Music that sexually turns on people is a sin”

Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdoğan’s rule. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa – a religious ban – on ‘sexual’ music. The latest victim of this arbitrary repression is an imam who runs a rockband and opposes the Directorate’s fatwa from a religious perspective. By Yiğit Günay […]

Lebanon: Authorities ban song on grounds of offending God

The censorship bureau of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate has banned Bachar Mar-Khalife’s song ‘Kyrie Eleison’ because it “contains offenses to God as the singer talked to God in the song saying, ‘have mercy on us and leave us alone’”, reported CNN Arabic on 12 April 2016. The authorities further stated that if Bashar Mar-Khalife wants […]

Egypt: Radio station bans mahraganat song

Ahmed Sameer, president of Cairo’s Nagham FM radio station, has banned Mahmoud al-Laithi and female singer Bossi’s mahraganat song ‘Bonbonaia’ (meaning candy) from the station, reported Youm7.com on 18 April 2016. Sameer’s order came after Ahmed al-Shenawi’s show ‘My Beloved People’ aired the song, which Sameer said contained explicit lyrics that “do not match Egyptian […]

Uzbekistan: The naked truth about state censorship

The Uzbekistan government tightens its control over the arts, prohibiting anything that is believed to threaten national values – including 700 films which have been banned, and musicians who have their performing licenses withdrawn. Censorship was a key instrument for controlling the masses during Soviet times. These days Uzbekistan’s ageing President Islam Karimov — who served as […]

Jordan: Concert by Israeli musician in Wadi Rum cancelled

Israeli musician Nadav Dagon cancelled his appearance at a three-day music festival scheduled from 7-9 April 2016 in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert after outcry against the performance surfaced on social media, reaching several parts of Jordan’s society and political groups, reported The Jerusalem Post on 4 April 2016. A group of members of parliament signed a […]

Germany: Comedian faces potential prosecution for criticising Turkish president

German comedian Jan Böhmermann’s satirical and controversial poem criticising Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has not only pushed the boundaries of humour, but has also propelled political debate between the two nations and called into question the values of freedom of expression. The poem, which Böhmermann read on his public broadcaster ZDF television programme ‘Neo […]

Indonesia: West Aceh bans outdoor concerts

The regency of West Aceh has banned all outdoor concerts based on a recommendation from a group of Muslim scholars trained in Shari’a law, reported The Sydney Morning Herald on 7 April 2016. Ulema, the body of scholars, believed that outdoor concerts had “more disadvantages than advantages”, leading West Aceh regent Teuku Alaidinsyah to no […]

Tunisia: Singer banned from working due to suggestive video

The Tunisian Musicians Syndicate has banned singer Hana al Zughlami aka Tunisian Naglaa from working in the country under accusations she promoted vice and immorality in her latest video and single ‘La Ykhebbesh Wala Ydebbish’, reported news site Al Bawaba on 31 March 2016. The syndicate has also stated that legal action would be taken […]

Artistic freedom in Zimbabwe: Joint stakeholder report submitted to the UN

Zimbabwe should abolish its Censorship Act and any prior-censorship bodies or systems, according to a joint stakeholder submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process (UPR) by Freemuse and Nhimbe – two civil society organisations defending artistic freedom in Zimbabwe and globally. COPENHAGEN/BULAWAYO, 31 MARCH 2016 | Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution guarantees the right to freedom […]

Angola: Rapper Luaty Beirão sentenced to over five years in prison

On 28 March 2016, the prominent Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for planning a rebellion against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, reported several news sources. 34-year-old Luaty Beirão was sentenced to 5.5 years for “rebellion against the president of the republic, criminal association and falsifying documents” by the Luanda […]

USA: Rapper sent back to prison for allegedly threatening attorney in song

Rapper and alleged gang member Sean Chung, who was out on bail for murder conspiracy and gun charges, was sent back to prison on 22 February 2016 for a song he posted on YouTube in November 2015 in which he allegedly threatened a Queens, New York district attorney, reported New York Daily News on 7 […]

Cuba: Artists and activists detained for eight hours

During the American president’s visit to the country, Cuba has seen a crack-down on the opposition and activists. Two artists, rock musician Gorki and visual street artist El Sexto, were arrested on 20 March 2016 along with several other demonstrators from Damas de Blanco – the Ladies in White – during a pro-democracy demonstration. The incident took […]

Iran: Musical instruments still not allowed on Iranian tv

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting blurred the musicians playing instruments, reported journalismisnotacrime.com on 12 February 2016. Families around Iran were told they were in for a treat: Iran’s state tv announced it would broadcast a concert by the popular Iranian singer Salar Aghili. But when it came to the event, very little of the concert […]

Turkey: ‘Rocking imam’ blocked from singing in Portugal

Turkish imam and rock musician Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer has been denied permission to give a concert in Portugal by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, reported several news media on 1 March 2016. Known in Turkey as the “Rockin’ Imam”, Ahmet Muhsin is the imam in the town of Kas, a tiny hamlet on […]

Burundi: Musician detained for insulting head of state

Cedric Bangirinama, a musician also known as Bangy, was arrested on 27 January 2016 by SNR agents from Burundi’s national intelligence service for statements he made on his personal Facebook account that were deemed “insulting to the head of state”, French-language Burundi news portal Iwacu reported on 2 February 2016. Witnesses say they saw agents […]

Singapore: Madonna banned from performing sensitive song

The Media Development Authority (MDA), Singapore’s governmental media regulatory board, banned Madonna from performing her song ‘Holy Water’ in her 28 February 2016 show at the country’s National Stadium, reported The Straits Times on 7 January 2016. The MDA rated the concert R18, meaning only those 18 years of age or older can attend, for […]

Mexico: Two more states ban narcocorridos

The governors of the states of Sinaloa and Coahuila are imposing restrictions on public performances of narcocorridos and movimiento alterado artists, joining the state of Chihuahua, which was the first state in the newest round to ban narcocorridos beginning in 2015. There are now three states in Mexico imposing limitations to these music genres, which […]

Egypt: Fear of heavy metal returns

Recent controversies in Egypt over heavy metal music continue to highlight findings in the 2010 Freemuse report “Headbanging against Repressive Regimes”, wherein the music and its fans remain misunderstood and victims of conservative policies and societies. Freemuse Egypt stringer, Shahira Amin, explains the recent events around heavy metal concerts, the role of the Musicians Syndicate and its […]

Kenya: LGBT music video banned

The Kenyan Film and Classification Board banned Art Attack’s video for its remix of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ gay rights song ‘Same Love’ on the grounds that “it does not adhere to the morals of the country”, Kenyan newspaper The Star reported on 23 February 2016. Board chairman Ezekiel Mutua also said that the video […]

Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker sentenced

Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court has issued their final judgment on Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, sentencing each of the three artists to three years in prison, three years probation and a 200 million rial (about  USD 6,600) fine, reported the Human Rights Activists News Agency on 29 February 2016. According to a source of […]

Egypt: Mahraganat artists challenge limits

For many youngsters in Egypt, mahraganat artists represent the voice of the people. They address social issues, relationships and drug problems. They operate in a landscape of recognition, occasional public and self-censorship and the consequences of the newly suggested committee for “the development of morals and conscience and the promotion of work ethics and values […]

Iran: Singer banned from tv and festival

Salar Aghili has been banned from appearing on Iranian television and performing in the country’s Fajr International Music Festival, reported human rights organisation journalismisnotacrime.com on 26 January 2016. The famous singer was banned due to his appearance on Manoto TV, a Persian-language satellite channel based in London. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati […]

Iran: 165 Iranian artists and activists protest charges against two musicians and a filmmaker

165 Iranian musicians, filmmakers, writers and activists have signed and released a statement objecting to the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of Mehdi Rajabian, a musician and founder of BargMusic, an alternative music distributor in Iran, along with his filmmaker brother Hossein Rajabian and musician Yousef Emadi. All three have been sentenced to six years […]

Egypt five years after the revolution: Artistic freedom is stifled

In the wake of a security clampdown on free expression since the military takeover of the country in July 2013, rights advocates lament that the space for free artistic expression and creativity has diminished in Egypt as restrictions on art and literary works that address politics, sex and religion, remain firmly in place.  By Shahira […]

Egypt: Arts unions granted legal powers to self-police

On 9 November 2015 Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Zend granted judicial police status, or “Al Dabtia Al Kadaeia”, to both the musician’s and actor’s trade unions, effectively meaning that unions members can now legally police and regulate themselves, reported news site Dotmsr.com The controversial decision was further compounded when, on the same day, El-Zend conferred […]

Ukraine: Italian opera singer cancels concerts in Crimea

After the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture said on 18 January 2016 that it would cancel Italian opera singer Alessandro Safina’s concerts in the country since he also scheduled performances in Crimea, the singer announced on 22 January 2016 that he would cancel his two dates in the contested region, reported Ukraine Today. Safina said he […]

Egypt: Government cancels concert marking revolution anniversary

The band Elawela Balady posted on its Facebook page that they were informed by the Ministry of State of Antiquities to cancel a concert they had scheduled on 24 January 2016 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, reported The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. The cancellation comes despite the fact […]

Turkey: Children’s play banned due to “inappropriate” song

A play that has been staged for children for the last 14 years was banned in the Çankaya District Directorate of Education of Turkey’s capital Ankara for having one song deemed “inappropriate”, reported Today’s Zaman on 14 January 2016. Playwright Serap Gültekin told newspaper Radikal that the application to stage her play ‘My Chess Pieces’ […]

China/Taiwan: Singers banned for nationalist statements and actions

Taiwanese-born singer Michael Huang’s songs and appearances on shows have been banned on Taiwanese media after he made critical comments against a teen pop star holding up the island’s flag during her appearance on a TV show, reported Now K Pop. On 8 January 2016 Huang posted a message on popular Chinese micro-blogging site Sina […]

Egypt: Singer released after paying bail on contempt of religion charges

Shaaban Abdel Rahim, famed and controversial Egyptian folklore singer, was under legal and public attacks for the Youtube release of a video of him singing Qur’an lyrics while wearing the religious clothing of Al-Azhar clerics, which landed him in jail, reported The Cairo Post. Attorney Mohammed Kamal filed a claim in October 2015 against Abdel […]

Call on Iranian authorities to drop charges on two musicians and a filmmaker

Human rights organisations Freemuse and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with 14 other organisations, protest the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, and call on the head of the judiciary and other Iranian authorities to drop the charges against them. Mehdi […]

Egypt: Union president suspends six singers from performing

Hani Shaker, controversial president of the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate, issued a decision to suspend six singers from being able to work as artists based on their behaviours during performances, reported Al Arabya News. Shaker stated that their behaviour was not in line with public morals as they wore “body revealing clothes” and acted “racy” and […]

Nigeria: Singer detained for song critical of politician

Singer Baba Iyali was arrested on 9 January 2016 in the Adamawa state in north-eastern Nigeria for a song he recently released criticising the speaker of the Adamawa state house of assembly, Kabiru Mijinyawa. This was reported by the online news site The Whistle. The singer remains in detention in police headquarters in reportedly inhuman […]

Indonesia: Punk documentary released worldwide

In Banda Aceh, on the northwestern tip of the island of Sumatra, there is a small and often misunderstood group of punks that have become labelled as a “social disease” as Shari’a law continues to grow over the last 10 years since the Indian Ocean tsunami. ‘Street Punk! Banda Aceh ’, a documentary just released […]

Iran: Musicians call for lifting concert ban

A group of musicians and artists have written to the governor of the Razavi Khorosan province in northeastern Iran to remove the ban on music concerts in Mashhad, the province’s capital and the country’s second most populous city, reported Radio Zamaneh. The musicians and artists state in the letter that the current ban will lead to […]

Iran: Album by prominent musician denied distribution

Majid Derakhshani’s latest album ‘Khoroosh’ will not be distributed in Iran, reported Payvand Iran News. The album, which translates to ‘Roar’, is comprised of Derakhshani’s music sung by Mojtaba Asgari and was tied up in legal red tape for over two years before the denial was issued. Further, the Ministry of Guidance’s security department has […]

Ethiopia: Crackdown on Oromo musicians

The current unrest in the Oromia region with news reports about a state crackdown on musicians is nothing new in Ethiopia, explains Endalk in this background article. In the last two decades, any Oromo singer who gravitated towards political and social activism have been subjected to intimidation, abductions, and torture. Singers have been killed, and […]

China: Hip-hop group censored and detained

Chinese rap trio IN3 may never be able perform in Beijing after garnering the current unenviable status of having the top 17 spots in China’s list of 120 banned songs, according to the Daily Mail. Due to the blacklist the Beijing-based group has had a difficult time finding venues to play, going as far as […]

Ethiopia: Three singers arrested, abducted and tortured

Three Oromo protest singers have reportedly been arrested, abducted and tortured in Ethiopia during December 2015: Hawi Tezera, Jireenyaa Shifarraa and Bilisummaa Dinquu. Hawi Tezera, an ethnic Oromo singer, was reportedly beaten, arrested, released and then rearrested in the space of just seven days in December 2015 by Ethiopian government security forces in connection with […]

Burundi: Musician shot by police

The Burundian singer and musician Pascal Treasury Nshimirimana was arrested and shot by police on 3 January 2016, according to BBC Afrique and RFI. The 27-year-old singer, also known as Lisuba (also spelled: Lissouba), was arrested by the police in the morning and was later found dead in Musaga, a neighbourhood south of the capital […]

Uzbekistan: Musicians regulated to conform to ‘national values’

Uzbekistan’s government has ordered the state agency in charge of giving licenses to performers to tighten conditions under which they are granted, citing a plethora of pop songs, videos and concerts that fail to conform to the “country’s spiritual, cultural and national values”, according to Transition Online and BBC News citing the local media Gazeta. […]

Morocco: Prosecuted rapper cleared of all charges

The Moroccan rapper Al Muntaqim was arrested in August 2015 accused of inciting violence and drug abuse through his song ‘Korsika’. On 9 December 2015 the court cleared him of all charges. In August 2015, the Public Prosecution at the Court of First Instance in Khenifra city in Morocco instructed the judicial police to immediately […]

Iran: Music distributors await appeal decision for six years in prison

Two musicians and a filmmaker who were jointly sentenced to six years in prison and fined 200 million toman (about  USD 66,650) each for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state,” are awaiting a ruling by a Tehran appeals court, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Mehdi Rajabian, a musician […]

Algeria: Attack on famous raï singer’s concert thwarted

According to Morocco World News, Alarabiya and other media, Algerian authorities are searching for three terrorists who attempted to target Annaba Theatre, a theatre in the north-eastern city of Annaba, where raï singer Cheb Khaled was performing on 9 December 2015. A separate report by Russia Today cited Algerian media sources as saying that the Algerian army […]

India: Singer prosecuted for song critical of state government

Arrested for singing a song critical of the government of the South Indian state Tamil Nadu, folk singer and activist Kovan has now been released on bail. His arrest is part of a larger crackdown on activism and freedom of expression, reports Lakshimi Sarah At the end of October 2015, the 52-year-old singer S. Kovan […]

China: Concert with North Korean band cancelled

The North Korean pop group Moranbong Band was scheduled to perform in Beijing, China, on 12 December 2015 to cultivate ties between the two countries, but their concert was abruptly cancelled without explanation a few hours before they were to have entered the stage at the city’s National Centre. A concert with the North Korean […]

Mali: Three years after the music ban

When the religious music ban in the northern part of Mali was lifted in 2013, Andy Morgan wrote the book ‘Music, Conflict and Culture in Mali’. Here is his account of what has happened in the country since then. By Andy Morgan    INSIGHT  One of the accusations often levelled at the West is that distance […]

Iran: Songwriter and poet released

Iranian songwriter and poet Yaghma Golrouee was released on bail from detention on 9 December 2015 after being arrested on unclear charges on 30 November 2015, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA). Though the reason behind the arrest is still unknown, it is thought that Golrouee was detained in response to his new […]

Iran: Songwriter and poet arrested

Iranian songwriter and poet Yaghma Golrouee was arrested on 30 November 2015, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA). Details on the reason behind the arrest or where Golrouee was taken are still unknown and unclear. According to journalismisnotacrime.com in 2013 one of Goulrouee’s poems was used by controversial Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi, who […]

Singapore: Arts council to withdraw funding of ‘offensive arts’, says chairman

The chairman of the National Arts Council in Singapore weighed in on an ongoing debate in the country over whether state funding for the arts should be used to enforce censorship. In her speech at the opening of the Singapore International Film Festival on 26 November 2015, Professor Chan Heng Chee brought up a 1998 […]

Singapore: Petition launched to ban singer from performing

Over 20,000 “concerned citizens, parents and individuals” in Singapore have signed a petition to stop Adam Lambert from performing at the Countdown 2016 New Year’s Eve concert due to his “promotion of LGBT rights,” reported The Independent. The group petitioned both the government and concert organisers, MediaCorp, and said, “a simple online search would reveal that he […]

Iran: Concert cancelled for having female musicians

A concert by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra was cancelled at the last minute on 29 November 2015 because some of the musicians were female, reported The National.  The orchestra was due to play in Tehran before the World Wrestling Clubs Cup competition and was stopped from performing as it was readying itself to play the […]

France post-November 13: Musicians shocked but defiant

The massacre at the Bataclan concert hall spreads fear and generates financial losses but also determination to carry on. Daniel Brown reports from Paris two weeks after the attacks “Vive la musique, vive la liberté, vive la France, and vive EODM.” Eagles of Death Metal By what eerie twist of fate did the three assaillants launch their massacre […]

United Kingdom: Film on Mali music ban leads to new fund

Freedom of expression campaigners Index on Censorship and the producers of the documentary film ‘They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile’ have launched a Music In Exile Fund along with a song playlist and a series of articles about music and censorship. The aim of the Music In Exile Fund is […]

Cuba: Musician Gorki Águila arrested again

Cuban musician Gorki Águila was arrested on 7 November 2015 in Havana, as he was traveling in a car with two journalists from the television channel France24, reported 14ymedio. The composer and singer managed to call the newspaper from the Fifth Police Station in the Playa municipality, where he was taken with the two reporters. […]

France: Deadly terror attack at rock concert in Paris

Over 80 rock music concertgoers are reported to have been shot dead in Paris. On 13 November 2015, 1,500 fans were attending a concert with the Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal at the popular music venue Bataclan in Paris, France, when it was attacked by terrorist gunmen, and concertgoers were taken hostage.  
 The attack took place […]

South Korea: TV bans sexy music video

Korean television has banned K-pop star Jay Park’s latest music video due to its sexual imagery, The Korea Times reported. The video for Park’s lead single, ‘You Know,’ from his new album features Park dancing with fellow K-pop star HyunA. South Korean monitors gave the video a 19+ parental advisory rating. Though K-pop has been […]

Turkey: Blasphemy ruling reversed for pianist Say

Pianist Fazıl Say may no longer face a ten-month jail sentence for blasphemy charges related to his tweets as Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the decision, saying his social media posts fall within the realm of freedom of expression, Hurriyet Daily News reported. The court ruled by majority – four to one – that […]

Turkey: EU and UN address Turkey’s troublesome arts freedom record

Significant shortcomings in the promotion of democracy and human rights feature highly in the European Commission’s 2015 Progress Report on Turkey, which points to ‘significant backsliding’ on protection of freedom of expression in the last two years after several years of progress. By Sara Whyatt   The report refers to a worrying number of writers […]

Iran: 26 popular singers banned from performing

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry banned 26 popular musicians and singers from performing in Iran after their music was aired by networks abroad, IranWire reported, citing an investigative piece from Etemad newspaper published on 19 October 2015. The head of the music department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance confirmed that letters were sent […]

INSIGHT | Tunisia: Musicians confronted with censorship and repression

Of Tunisia’s entire artistic community, the musicians – and in particular urban rappers – have borne the brunt of the state’s censorship and repression. A wide legal arsenal has been used to drag musicians into court and throw them unceremoniously into gaol. By Daniel Brown  INSIGHT  In Tunisia, there are two kinds of rappers. First, […]

India: Pakistani singer’s concerts cancelled after protests

Two concerts by the veteran Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali scheduled in the Indian state of Maharashtra were cancelled by the organisers after a regional Hindu right-wing party took exception to the events. The Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party that is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra State, asked the organisers to cancel the […]

China/Tibet: Musician released from prison

Chinese authorities had sentenced Pema Rigzin to two and a half years in prison, but released him after 11 months. After his release, a crowd welcomed him home. Freemuse welcomes the release of Pema Rigzin (also spelled: Rigdzin). “Many Tibetan singers produce songs about issues of concern to a majority of the population,” said Ole […]

Zimbabwe: Censorship board should be abolished, says workshop group

Zimbabwe should abolish the censorship board and other bodies censoring or regulating artistic expressions in order to comply with Zimbabwe’s new constitution. Instead a new classification board should be mandated to issue age recommendations to protect children. This was a recommendation made by arts practitioners, artists, journalists and human rights lawyers at a workshop on […]

China: Malaysian rapper told to make no controversial statements

The Malaysian rapper Namewee (real name: Wee Meng Chee) has become the latest to join a growing number of artists and brands facing limitations on their performance in China. Namewee posted a statement on Facebook on 19 October 2015 that he had been forced by his Hong Kong concert promoter to declare that he wouldn’t […]

Morocco: Rapper prosecuted over song deemed insulting

The Moroccan rapper Al Muntaqim was arrested in August 2015 and accused of inciting violence and drug abuse through his song ‘Korsika’. He has been released, but his court case is still pending. In August 2015, the Public Prosecution at the Court of First Instance in Khenifra city in Morocco instructed the judicial police to […]

Tunisia: Rapper Klay BBJ released from custody

The Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ was released from custody on 21 October 2015 after having been detained over the weekend on suspicion of “possession and use” of cannabis, his lawyer was quoted as saying by various media. Freemuse welcomes the news which was confirmed by Freemuse’s partner in Tunisia, CIHRS. “He has just been released, […]

Tunisia: Calls for the release of arrested rapper Klay BBJ

On 17 October 2015, the public prosecution of the Court of First Instance in Tunis permitted National Security officers in Bab Swika district to arrest the rapper Klay BBJ (real name: Ahmed Ben Ahmed) along with two other men. They were allegedly apprehended for possession of drugs. The news agency AFP quoted a judicial source […]

Angola: Freemuse calls for immediate release of detained rapper

On 15 October 2015, the 33-year-old Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão entered his fourth week of hunger strike in protest of his detention without trial since June – along with 14 other opposition activists accused of ‘rebellion’ and of seeking to ‘attack the president’. Freemuse holds the Angolan authorities responsible for Luaty Beirão’s well-being and calls […]

Somalia: Regional court orders four singers released from custody

Somaliland Informer reported on 30 September 2015 that a Hargeisa regional court has ordered the release of the four detained Horn Star singers who were arrested as they four days earlier had returned from a tour to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Court chairman Hon. Ahmed Dalmar Ismail has issued a formal statement saying the police have […]

Egypt: Resolution against revealing clothing and “vulgar” lyrics

Egypt’s Musicians’ Union bans artists from wearing “indecent” clothing and using “vulgar” vocabulary on stage and television in a resolution passed at the end of August 2015. Hani Shaker, the newly elected head of the union, aims to continue to promote Egyptian art, but not at the expense of the country’s morals and customs, thus […]

Burundi: Musicians menaced, silenced and fleeing the country

Burundian artists are confronted with ever-shrinking possibilities for open and free political speech. Well-known singers and band members are being targeted and, if possible, manipulated to change their artistic or political style. Several musicians have fled the country. By John Banram, Freemuse correspondent – reporting from Burundi  INSIGHT  Fear of being assassinated is spreading among […]

South Korea: Arts Council accused of political censorship

Through Arts Council Korea, the Korean government allegedly attempts to censor cultural contents. Artists and their projects have been banned from government financial support for political reasons, reported Korea Herald on 22 September 2015. Yeo Jun-suk wrote for Korea Herald that lawmakers from the main opposition party have upped their pressure on the government to […]

Burkina Faso: Music studio in capital bombed after coup

Studio Abazon in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, was attacked in the early hours of 17 September 2015, allegedly targeted by coup soldiers because of the activism of its owner, rapper Smockey. The studio is owned and run by top Burkinabe rapper and revolutionary artist, Serges Martin Bambara – also known as Smockey (or […]

India: Religious group issues fatwa against composer and director

A Muslim group in India has issued a fatwa against the Indian musician and composer A.R. Rahman and the Iranian film director Majid Majidi. A Sunni-Muslim group in Mumbai called the Raza Academy has issued the fatwa in protest against Majidi’s film ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’ – Iran’s most expensive ever movie with a $40 […]

Russia: Music portal banned

The Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has banned online music portal Last.fm for offering the song ‘Kill a cop’ (‘Ubey menta’) by the Russian alternative rock band Psychea, according to the Calvert Journal. The chorus of the song reads: “Beat me, trample me, cut me to pieces — I’ve gone completely insane. The situation is getting […]

Cuba: Imprisoned artist El Sexto on hunger strike

Freemuse calls for the release of imprisoned Cuban artists The Cuban graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, best known as El Sexto, who has been arbitrarily imprisoned for eight months in the Valle Grande prison, located west of Havana, has initiated a hunger strike, according to El Nuevo Harald and various other sources. El […]

Spain: Row over canceling of Jewish US musician’s festival performance

The Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu was initially cancelled by the organisers from performing at the Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Benicássim in Spain on 22 August 2015 after he refused to make a statement outlining his position on Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Due to the growing controversy over the ruling and complaints from Israel […]

China: 120 songs banned for promoting obscenity and violence

On 10 August 2015, China released a blacklist of songs claiming they promote obscenity or violence and ordered website administrators to remove them from their sites, according to Xinhua News Agency. The order from the Ministry of Culture accompanied a list of 120 songs that trumpeted “obscenity, violence, crime or harmed social morality”. The list […]

Cuba: Cuban rocker Gorki Aguila arrested

According to Capital Hill Cubans and other sources, Castro regime officials showed up on 5 August 2015 at the home of Cuban rocker Gorki Aguila and arrested him. According to his daughter, Gorki Aguila was given no cause for his arrest Aguila, front-man of the band Porno Para Ricardo, recently authored a song in honor […]

China: US pop group banned because of a tweet

The US pop group Maroon 5 have felt the wrath of China’s stringent government policies, getting banned from entering the country allegedly after posting a tweet showing support for the Dalai Lama. The group’s Beijing and Shanghai concerts scheduled for September 2015 as a part of their larger Asian tour were cancelled with no official […]

Iran/Lebanon/Ukraine: Artists affected by conflicts

When conflicts unfold between and within countries, artists’ rights to artistic freedom of expression are often violated. Recently, artists have been affected by the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, and between Israel and Lebanon as well as Iran. Singer banned in Iran after performance in Israel The Iranian-born British Muslim singer Sami Yusuf, whose […]

USA: Freedom of expression violated when concert was shut down

Chicago rapper Chief Keef was to appear via hologram from California in a concert in a public park in Hammond, Indiana, on 25 July 2015, but police officers shut down the concert because they were concerned that the hologram would pose a threat to public safety. Chief Keef appeared via hologram on stage, but within […]

Gambia: Rapper forced to flee after song criticising president goes viral

A few days after Gambian rapper Killa Ace (real name: Ali Cham) released a song critical of the Gambian regime, he started receiving threats that lead him to flee the country. In the song, entitled ‘Ku Boka C Geta G’, Killa Ace speaks against social injustices, oppression, corruption and lack of freedom of expression under […]

Russia: Musicians protest against illegal police detentions

“Police is attacking artists, taking them to police stations, confiscating their instruments, giving them court summons, and the courts then appoint huge fines based on various articles, depending on their imagination,” wrote Oleg Mokryakov, a leader of one of the music collectives playing on Arbat street, on his Facebook page. On 28 June 2015 those […]

Tunisia: No investigation into attack on a local rapper

How freedom of expression is oppressed through financial, moral and psychological pressure and damages is Tunisian rapper Hamadi Dia’s story. Today, Freemuse publishes his account of what he is going through because of the music and lyrics he produces. By Shaima Aly, Freemuse “Those groups succeeded in their mission to shut me up and get […]

Saudi Arabia: Concert with mixed gender audience cancelled

A concert scheduled for 6 May 2015 at the major Jeddah Amasy concert hall was cancelled by authorities, according to the daily Saudi newspaper Ajel. Apparently the concert audience was planned to be of ‘mixed gender’, which incited an opposition campaign against the concert on social media. The event was to feature the popular young […]

Turkey: Court reverses Governor’s ban on concert in Istanbul

The famous Turkish folk music band Grup Yorum celebrated its 30th anniversary with a concert in Istanbul on 28 June 2015, even though the first two attempts to organise this concert earlier in the year were banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office. The ban was eventually reversed by a court decision, so that on 28 […]

Egypt: One year imprisonment for music video

The Agouza Misdemeanour Court sentenced Sunday the dancer Salma Al-Foly, the director Wael El-Sedik and an assistant to one year in prison for a low-cost production homemade video which they posted on El-Sedik’s private YouTube channel on 18 May 2015. The video has since been viewed over 1.5 million times. Singer and dancer Salma Al-Foly […]

Morocco: Police blocks concert with rapper El Haqed

On 19 June 2015, a concert with the Morrocan rapper El Haqed was called off with 48 hours notice by the police in Casablanca. Right before the beginning of the show, Police allegedly blocked streets leading to the venue and asked the local power provider to cut electricity. The concert was organised at L’Uzine, a […]

Indonesia: Punk music and Shari’a law

Punks face the tightening grip of Shari’a law in north Sumatra. This is documented in ‘Street Punk! Banda Aceh’ – a film about a punk community that refuses to die. Freemuse asked the film’s production team, director Maria Bakkalapulo and producer Niall Macaulay to tell about the struggle. By Maria Bakkalapulo and Niall Macaulay  INSIGHT  […]

Zambia: Singer Pilato detained and prosecuted for song about president

In Zambia, the popular satirical singer Pilato (real name: Chama Fumba) is being prosecuted because of a song he wrote, entitled ‘Alungu Anabwela’. Officials said the song defamed President Edgar Lungu by accusing him of drinking too much and being incompetent. Police said that the song could “provoke public clashes”. Pilato was arrested on 8 […]

Turkey: Artists under pressure – a year of trials and penalties

Yesterday, Turkey’s voters headed towards the ballot boxes to place their votes in the 7 June general elections. As the election day approached, threats to the media, both veiled and overt, were in the air. This was not entirely unexpected, given that Turkey’s poor record of protection of the right to freedom of expression is well-known. […]

Morocco: Rapper speaks out after release from prison

After four months behind bars, the Moroccan rapper Abdul Mou’men Al Shuaibi was released in February 2015. Freemuse spoke with Al Shuaibi about his ordeal and his plans for the future.  Back in 2013, Al Shuaibi had released a rap song, entitled ‘zan9a lkahla 2013 Chorta Fe Lara’ criticising the local police, their alleged violent practices […]

Turkey: 19-year-old singer attacked after threats

After appearing on the Turkish talent show Sesi Çok Güzel on national tv, the 19-year-old singer Mutlu Kaya reportedly received death threats and was attacked in her home, reported Agence France-Presse and Hurriyet on 18 May 2015. The assailant fired a bullet into the house through a back window in the garden, and Mutlu Kaya […]

Iran: Radical website calls for murder of musician

On 1 May 2015, the ultra-conservative Iranian website Aba Shohada website announced a reward of approximately $155,000 for anyone who would blow up the concert venues of German-based Iranian musician Shahin Najafi. According to the US based organisation International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the threat is being addressed by the German police and […]

Sweden: Art under threat

Several Swedish artists live under constant threat from nazis and extreme rightwing groups. For years, they have been subjected to threats, harassment and attacks directed at their art and themselves. The artists despair at the inability of the state to protect them. By Sanna Samuelsson    INSIGHT  Published in collaboration with Konstnären/The Artist One artist […]

Russia: Cultural freedom under threat

In this article Lena Jonson, Head of the Russia Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm and author of the book ‘Art and protest in Putin’s Russia’, which was published in March 2015, describes that although censorship was forbidden by the Russian Constitution of 1993, since 2012 an informal ideological censorship has […]

 

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