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threaten national values – including 700 films which have been banned, and musicians who have their performing licenses withdrawn.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 […]

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 […]

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 capital’s province 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Somaliland: 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 […]

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 […]

Lebanon: Armenian concert cancelled in Tripoli

An Armenian concert scheduled to be held at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Tripoli on 25 April 2015 was cancelled out of fear that it would be used to attack Turkish policy against Armenian people in the past and thus provoke Turkey. According to As-Safir, one of Lebanon’s leading daily newspapers, The […]

Sweden: Rap group’s concerts cancelled after free speech controversies

Hip-hop flirting with political violence causes controversy and debate around the world. The Swedes have recently been having a thorough public discussion about where to draw the line between illegal hate speech on one side, and artists’ democratic right to express themselves on the other. Here is a run-down of Kartellen’s free speech journey in […]

Syria: ISIL burns music instruments of ‘Peace Ambassador’ artist

On 17 April 2015, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) burnt the musical instruments of the young Palestinian pianist Ayham Al Ahmad, reported Syria Live Network. Ayham Al Ahmad is well-known for his music expressing the tragedies of the Syrian war, which he has performed amid the devastated buildings in the Yarmouk Palestinian […]

Turkey: Izmir Opera cancellation of ‘Carmina Burana’ sparks censorship concerns

Censorship allegations concerning Turkey’s state-run art institutions have taken a new turn with the İzmir State Opera and Ballet’s removal of “Carmina Burana” from its repertoire at the last minute, two days before the world-famous cantata was set to be performed at the Ahmed Adnan Saygun Arts Center in an evening performance on Saturday 2 […]

France: Verdict of three years imprisonment to rapper in Marseilles

The court in Marseilles summoned the French-Algerian rapper Lacrim (real name: Karim Zenoud), but he didn’t show up in court. He was consequently given status as a fugitive and sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment. Lacrim was charged in court because of the video for his song ‘Viens, je t’emmène’, in which he uses […]

Pakistan: DJs and singers silenced with new loudspeaker regulation

In the Punjab province in Pakistan, DJs, singers and show organisers are threatening to launch province-wide protest if Police continues to register cases against them while seizing their music equipment and loudspeaker systems because of a new legislation, the ‘Punjab Sound System Regulation Ordinance 2015’. The Punjab Government enforced the ‘Punjab Sound System Regulation Ordinance […]

USA: Country stations ban song for promoting gay agenda

The country song ‘Girl Crush’ by Little Big Town has been banned by some American country stations after listeners complained it ‘promotes the gay agenda’. This despite the fact that the song is about wanting back an ex, and just includes lyrics detailing the attractiveness of his new girlfriend. The group has now filmed a […]

France: Prime minister intervenes to stop ban of posters for musical trio

The French Prime Minister stepped in to have a ban lifted on an advert for a musical trio called ‘The Priests’. The country’s tram and Metro network RATP came under fire for pushing France’s beloved secularity too far when it banned posters advertising a concert with Les Pretres in June 2015. Les Pretres (‘The Priests’) […]

Canada: Controversy over concert cancellation sparks public debate

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has decided to cancel performances by the Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa over what it calls her “deeply offensive language” and “inciting hatred” on Twitter because of her comments on the conflict in Ukraine. This has created an intense public debate in the country’s media and social media about artsfreedom and self-censorship. […]

Pakistan: Drummer and performer killed by armed men

In Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, two people were killed in a violent attack in the middle of the night when a group of transgender dancers and musicians was returning home after performing a show at a wedding party. The attackers were waiting for the musicians and dancers in a field and tried to abduct […]

Morocco: Rapper Al Shuaibi reportedly released from prison

After six months imprisonment at the Civil Prison in El Araich city, the Moroccan rapper Al Shuaibi was set free on 27 February 2015, reported larache24.com. After his release from prison, Al Shuaibi made a public statement to larache24.com, saying that he will proceed with his “call for justice and rights” in his next songs, […]

Russia: Theatre director fired for staging opera that offended church

Russia’s Ministry of Culture has fired the director and head of Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre for having staged a Wagner opera which offended Orthodox believers. “What some perceive as a sophisticated work of art was interpreted as offensive blasphemy by others. The production of ‘Tannhauser’ has exposed the sharp divisions within Russian society,” wrote Ivan Nechepurenko in The […]

Egypt: Composer arrested and singer escaped

On Friday 13 March 2015, two hours after a song called ‘Egypt is Narrow’, (‘Masr ya Dayka’) had been broadcasted on the tv channel Al Sharq, the composer of the song, Ahmed Al Basher, was arrested, and the singer, Ali Al Hendawi, was allegedly being chased by police. The song ‘Egypt is Narrow’ is a […]

Iran: Film about singer who outwitted ban on women singing solo

Nothing like it had been attempted in Iran for 35 years. The Iranian singer and composer Sara Najafi proposed hosting a concert in Tehran – “a festival of the female voice” featuring solo singers. “Since the 1979 revolution, women in Iran have been banned from singing solo. So what happened when this woman decided to […]

Canada: Viet Cong banned from playing because of their name

The Canadian art rockers Viet Kong have had a show in Ohio cancelled because their name ‘deeply offends’ some people. Gig promoter Ivan Krasnov took to the Oberlin ‘Sco Facebook page to apologise for booking an act whose name “deeply offends and hurts Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American communities, both in Oberlin and beyond”. He extended his […]

Egypt: Documentary with censored artists

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression recently released a documentary exploring freedom of creativity in Egypt by interviewing the artists that have been subjected to governmental censorship. Artistic expression in Egypt is one of the most tightly controlled forms of expression. It was so before the January 2011 revolution and still is today. […]

USA: Symphony censored over its comments on totalitarianism

In March 2015, 21-year-old composer Jonas Tarm was about to reach a profound career milestone: His original composition was going to be performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall. But at the last minute, the New York Youth Symphony told Tarm that his Carnegie debut – commissioned by the orchestra as part of its prestigious First […]

United Kingdom: Public debate warns of self-censorship in the arts

Artistic institutions in Britain are increasingly self-censoring subversive material to secure funding and avoid protests, according to a panel of arts grandees. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, and Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty were among those who called the rise of […]

Russia: Creators of ‘offensive’ Wagner opera acquitted

Two men who went on trial in Russia on 4 March 2015 over their staging of Richard Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ opera, which a senior Orthodox cleric complained was offensive to religious believers, were acquitted in court on 10 March 2015. Prosecutors said the modern-day staging, which fuelled anger among Orthodox Russians after it premiered in the […]

Turkey: Legal breakthrough in favour of prosecuted singer Ferhat Tunç

The European Court of Human Rights has convicted Turkey of violating freedom of speech in the case of singer Ferhat Tunç. A Turkish court had sentenced Ferhat Tunç to three months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine for having made dissident comments during a concert. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) […]

USA: Hip-hop artist prosecuted for rapping about shootings

The rapper Tiny Doo was charged with “criminal street gang conspiracy” over a music album, ‘No Safety’, reflecting gang culture. Tiny Doo (real name: Brandon Duncan) has no criminal record and says he has no knowledge of the crimes, which involved several shootings in San Diego from May 2013 to February 2014. But the district […]

Syria/USA: Exiled pianist portrayed in remarkable documentary

National Geographic released its documentary film ‘Notes For My Homeland’ featuring USA-based, Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali’s musical journey to Carnegie Hall. » See the film here “The Syrian-American composer and pianist has performed in leading concert halls around the world and has also written a song so powerful that his parents were beaten in […]

Turkey: Broadcasters fined for airing music video scenes of sexuality

The Turkish Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) has fined two music tv channels for airing music videos with scenes of sexuality, reported Hurriyet Daily News. RTÜK fined Genç TV for broadcasting the music video of Elliphant’s song ‘One More’, which features a scene of two women kissing. RTÜK also fined Power TV for […]

Egypt: Artists “suffer from the shackles of censorship”

Four years after the January 25 revolution, Egyptian artists say they still suffer from the shackles of censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression, wrote Dina al-Shibeeb in Al Arabiya News on 25 January 2015. In 2014, singer Mohamed Attia faced charges after protesting against a court’s ruling to acquit Mubarak, and in November 2014, […]

Norway: World women gathering to explore freedom of expression

On 30-31 January 2015, an unusual gathering of world women will unfold over two days of conversations and performances at Riksscenen in Oslo, Norway. The summit is organised by artist and activist Deeyah Khan. ‘World Woman’ is “a convening of courageous and creative women who are defenders of freedom of expression, campaigners for gender equality, […]

Turkey: Charges against musician of insult to prime minister

On 16 January 2015 an investigation was opened against folk music artist Kutsal Evcimen because of insulting the prime minister of the time, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the folk song ‘Satın Eşek Sıpaları’ which he sang – and with a short speech he made – during Malatya 11th International Arguvan Folk Music Festival. The Initiative for Free […]

Iran: 20-year-old musician’s reality check: oppression persists

“Rights for musicians are extremely weak in Iran”, wrote Tooka Zokaie, a 20-year-old Iranian-American piano teacher and speech coach who travelled to Iran and unintentionally broke the law: “When I went to Iran this summer, almost everything I participated in related to music was illegal. I played piano to male audiences, participated in underground concerts […]

Norway: ‘Safe city’ Harstad receives Sudanese musician Abazar Hamid

Abazar Hamid, the Sudanese peace singer who was forced into exile in 2008, is today announced as “safe city musician” in the Norwegian city Harstad. It has been a long waiting for Hamid and Harstad. Almost two years ago the Norwegian city declared itself “the world’s first safe city for musicians”, but Norwegian immigration policy […]

Afghanistan: Theatre performance attacked by suicide bomber

On 11 December 2014 a 17-year-old suicide bomber blew himself up inside a school auditorium in Kabul where a theatre play condemning suicide bombing, ‘Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion’, was being presented by students of Kabul University’s Cinema and Theatre Department of Fine Art Faculty Several persons were killed by the bomb blast which came […]

Russia: Court bans music and artwork of American metal band

A Russian court ruled that translations of the American death metal band Cannibal Corpse’s lyrics and artwork should be banned because they “could damage the mental health of children” On 28 November 2014, Ufa’s Oktyabrsky district court approved prosecutors’ requests that Cannibal Corpse’s album artwork and any Russian translations of their lyrics be banned from […]

Tibet/China: Folk singer sentenced to two and a half years in prison

On 27 November 2014, the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, sentenced the well-known folk singer and music producer Pema Rigzin to two and a half years in prison and a fine of 50,000 yuan (US$ 8,130) for composing, releasing, and distributing music with alleged political overtones. Pema Rigzin, 44, was detained on 7 […]

Tibet/China: Tibetan singer sentenced to four years in prison

The popular Tibetan singer Kalsang Yarphel has been given a four year imprisonment verdict for belting out songs calling on Tibetans to speak their own language and to forge unity among themselves. Kalsang Yarphel, 39, was sentenced by a court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where he had been held since being detained […]

Book celebrates Music Freedom Day

Are you planning activities in 2015? During eight years of existence more than 100 partners and collaborators in 36 countries have joined the annual event Music Freedom Day, held on 3rd of March. A new publication ‘Music Freedom Day 2007–2014’ celebrates and gives examples of the powerful, united manifestation around the world. “Over the years […]

South Africa: Call for ban of song allegedly romanticising violence

South Africans discuss whether the song ‘Larney Jou Poes’ by Cape Town band Dookoom is political hip-hop or hate speech: When does an artistic expression of anger become incitement to violence or “romanticising” of imminent violence? ‘Larney Jou Poes’ was published on youtube.com on 15 October 2014. It was viewed more than 50,000 times during […]

Egypt: Dialogue stopped by restrictions, censorship and arrests

“Democracy is about dialogue. It is not about shutting down ideas or artistic expressions which may be in opposition to the majority or the ruling system. Due to restrictions and censorship, this dialogue is not possible in Egypt now,” wrties Egyptian singer and activist Ramy Essam in this opinion-piece which was first published by Al […]

Morocco: 17-year-old rapper released after three months imprisonment

Othman Atiq, a 17-year-old Moroccan rapper known as Mr Crazy, was released on 12 November 2014 after completing a three-month sentence for “offending a state institution,” “harming public morality,” and other offenses related to his lyrics.
 Atiq, whose songs and music videos depict the gritty lives of Casablanca’s unemployed youth, is the second performer in […]

Russia: The street artists that drive authorities mad

Russian street artists are twisting and testing the lines between art, activism and hooliganism. While most artists would define their various protest actions and expressions as art, or street art, the Russian authorities only see illegal hooliganism. This report goes behind the arts scenes in the country which became internationally known for its conflict between […]

UK: British-based Ukrainians call for ban of performers from Russia

Russian artists are facing international protests and bans in Europe for their support of Putin. A “soft power struggle” is making waves that extend beyond the two countries, reports Masha Egupova. By Masha Egupova When Russian singer Valeriya came to London to perform on 21 October 2014, no one expected a scandal. But as she […]

Pakistan: Women musicians speak out about ‘the gender challenge’

In Pakistan today, women often find themselves unable to pursue music careers because of conservative family attitudes, political insecurity, and gender inequality. But certainly not all women, learned Sabrina Toppa, when she set out to investigate how the country’s ‘gender challenge’ affects musicians. Young, independent women are making a difference and a space for themselves […]

Egyptian singer Ramy Essam: “Why I move to Sweden for two years”

Since Freemuse announced that the Egyptian singer and musician Ramy Essam has been offered a two year residence in the Swedish city Malmö, rumours and tweets in Egypt have speculated whether he is seeking asylum. This is not the case, explained Ramy Essam, who issued the following statement on 23 October 2014: “Malmö, Wednesday, 22 […]

Swedish city offers Egyptian musician safe city residence

The 27-year-old Egyptian singer and Freemuse Award winner Ramy Essam will be residing in Malmö, Sweden, for the next two years. This is a direct consequence of the interogation in June 2014 by the National Security Police and the continuous censorship of his music in Egypt. Ramy Essam was hailed as the “singer of the […]

China: President delivers directions to artists

On 15 October 2014, the Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech about the importance of arts to some of China’s leading creative figures. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping as having said that “Academic and artistic democracy should also be promoted to allow for full discussions between groups holding different […]

Russia and Ukraine: Musicians caught between conflict, bitter rhetoric and outright bans

As the conflict in Ukraine unfolds, political borders turn into cultural borders, and artists on both sides suffer the consequences. Russians are banning Ukrainian artists from performing, and vice versa. By Masha Egupova On September 25, as Russian singer Andrei Makarevich was performing at the House of Music in Moscow, members of the unregistered nationalist […]

Belarus: Soccer fans detained for singing song deriding Russian president

A court in the Belarusian capital Minsk has imprisoned eight Ukrainian football fans after they sang an insulting song about Russian president Vladimir Putin. According to police, 41 fans were detained after the Belarus versus Ukraine European Championship qualifier match in the Belarusian city of Borisov on 9 October 2014. Eyewitness accounts in Belarusian papers […]

Norway: Seminar about the role of music as instrument for social change

At a seminar in Oslo, Norway, on 29 October 2014, the South African musician Hugh Masekela will discuss the importance of music in the democratisation process in South Africa in a conversation with Freemuse Director Ole Reitov. Hugh Masekela has for years explored the role of music as an instrument for social change. The seminar […]

Tibet/China: Censored poet and exiled musician sidetrack oppression

Thanks to Internet connectivity, Tibetan artists inside and outside Tibet are finding new ways to communicate and collaborate. But to the Tibetans inside Tibet, this is at a high risk. By Dechen Pemba   “Music is like the wings of a bird that can fly over man-made borders.” Woeser In July 2013, a musical collaboration […]

Freemuse to United Nations: Belarus should explain censorship

In a Universal Periodic Review submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Freemuse argues that Belarus is failing to abide by its international commitments to fully protect the fundamental artistic freedoms of its citizens. “Belarus should take active steps publicly to document and explain its censorship policy – not least its communications with media […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haqed speaks of freedom and flaws

If the Moroccan authorities meant to silence the dissident Moroccan rapper El Haqed by locking him up in a prison cell on trumped up charges, it didn’t work. The first thing he wanted to do when he stepped out in freedom after four months imprisonment was go to the studio and record more of the […]

USA: Ai Weiwei exhibition features music by imprisoned musicians

A new exhibition by the acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opened on 27 September 2014 on Alcatraz near San Fransisco, USA. It features music by Tibetan singer Lolo and Pussy Riot, highlighting threads which connect artists around the planet who face harassment, pressure, persecution, prosecution and even death for expressing their opinion and their art. […]

United Kingdom: Common statement in defense of offensive art

“We must prevent the repetition of recent ‘successful protests’ in which the artist is silenced by threats of violence towards the institution, the work or the artist him or herself, as we saw with ‘Exhibit B’ in London, and ‘The City’, the hip-hop opera by the Jerusalem-based Incubator Theatre company” The right to protest but […]

New Zealand: Musician takes ban of his satirical song to court

New Zealand blues singer Darren Watson has taken the country’s Electoral Commission to court to try and reverse a ban on his satirical song ‘Planet Key’. The commision told him to stop promoting and selling the song, which makes fun of Prime Minister John Key, or face prosecution. A hearing in New Zealand’s High Court […]

Morocco: Dissident rapper Mouad El Haqed released

Having served his third prison sentence since Morocco’s February 20th Movement uprising started, Morocco’s dissident rapper Mouad Belghouat known by his stage name El Haqed has been released from Ain Borja prison in Casablanca on 18 September 2014. By Nadir Bouhmouch, Freemuse Arrested on 18 May 2014, El Haqed was charged by a lower Casablanca […]

Pakistan: Rock guitarist keeps music scene alive despite state-wide fear and censorship

Pakistan is internationally known for its state-sponsored censorship and terrorists’ attacks on musicians and music shops. But in the capital, the music scene is in a fast transition. Meet Islamabad’s maestro guitarist Zeejah Fazli who works hard to help fix Pakistan’s broken and battered music industry. By Annie Zaman with additional reporting by Sahar Ghazi […]

Freemuse receives Ars Electronica Award

At an award ceremony on 5 September 2014 in Linz, Austria, Freemuse received the 2014 Prix Ars Electronica – the world’s oldest and most renowned prize in media art. A total of 2,703 entries from 77 countries were submitted for prize consideration to the 2014 Prix Ars Electronica. The jury of the Digital Communities of […]

Russia: Opera premiere cancelled after its composer was attacked

The premiere of a new opera in St. Petersburg has been cancelled after two venues refused to host it and the composer was savagely beaten and death threats were issued. The opera ‘New Jerusalem’ is composed by award-winning local composer Ilya Demutsky with librettist Artyom Suslov. The opera follows the actions of an individual who […]

China: Arts and social media increasingly restricted

The director of the annual Beijing Independent Film Festival was jailed and forced to promise not to open the festival. The move comes as social media, arts, and religion are increasingly restricted. China sees and intensified campaign against activity not considered in line with orthodox party thinking under President Xi Jinping. The broadening range of […]

Tunisia and Egypt: Music censorship after the Spring

‘The Cultural Spring’ in Tunisia and Egypt: Musicians are pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. By Victor Salama   While some Arab countries saw political changes in 2011 – president Ben Ali was ousted from power after ruling Tunisia for 24 years, Hosni Mubarak was deposed after ruling Egypt for 30 years – many cultural […]

Pakistan: Ban of social media has great impact on musicians

As Pakistan continues to restrict access to social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, activist band Laal discusses the silencing effect that these bans have on artists, and speaks to the future of free expression. By Anushe Noor Faheem, with additional reporting by Annie Zaman Laal, Pakistan’s most vocal social-justice oriented band, has built […]

 

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