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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Morocco: Imprisoned rapper El Haqed on two-day hunger strike

On 13-15 August 2014, the Moroccan rapper and member of the 20 February protest movement did a 48-hour hunger protest against “humiliating treatment” in prison, reported Huffington Post. Relatives said that El Haqed (also spelled: Lhaqed. Real name: Mouad Belghouat) undergoes considerable psychological pressure from the staff of the prison. On 1 July 2014, El […]

Iraq: Kurdish singer receives death threats over music video

Kurdish singer Helly Luv, 25, allegedly received death threats from ISIS Islamist militants since release of her first music video in February 2014. Helly Luv’s music video combines traditional Middle Eastern pop imagery with materials of the Kurdish nationalist and revolutionary movement. The music video was viewed over three million times in its first five months. […]

USA: High school marching band’s playlist censored

A high school marching band in central Pennsylvania, USA, can’t perform hit songs by Bruno Mars and Fall Out Boy because of their suggestive lyrics. A Lancaster County school board this week stood behind an administrative decision to remove two Top 40 hits from its high school marching band’s upcoming repertoire because of suggestive lyrics. […]

Tibet/China: Artists have to tread an incredibly fine line

Braving high risks and heavy censorship in China, Tibetan musicians sing their love for Tibet. by Dechen Pemba   Gebey, a Tibetan singer who had been detained at the end of May 2014 following a live performance in Ngaba Prefecture, eastern Tibet, has been released from detention. Gebey (sometimes spelled Gaybay or Gepey) has chosen […]

Morocco: Open letter to Moroccan minister about El Haqed

The Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghaoute – also known as Lhaqed or El Haqed, ‘the enraged one’ – was sentenced on 1 July 2014 to four months in prison amid concerns that the trial was unfair, and that he is being held because of his popularity and lyrics that condemn corruption and police brutality. Arrested on […]

Czech Republic: Exhibition highlights music censorship

Music and politics are in the focus of a new exhibition produced by the National Museum in Praha. A large part of the exhibition deals with repression against music and use of music for policial ends in the socialist Czech Republic before the democratic elections, but the exhibition is even going back to the revolutions […]

Brazil: The music Brazil doesn’t want you to be listening to

Leading up to the World Cup in Brazil, with sounds of gunfire in the background, forbidden funk rappers continued to talk about what the government wants to hide: extreme violence, social segregation and racism in the favelas. By Debora Baldelli Girls dance at a baile funk party in the Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de […]

Morocco: Take action against El Haqed’s unfair prison sentence

Take action to help create public pressure for the immidiate release of the Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghaoute – also known as Lhaqed or El Haqed, ‘the enraged one’: El Haqed was sentenced on 1 July 2014 to four months in prison amid concerns that the trial was unfair, and that he is being held because […]

Morocco: Rapper sentenced to four months in prison

The Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghaoute – also known as Lhaqed or El Haqed – has been sentenced to four months in prison. He is furthermore to pay a fine of 1,350 euros to the two police officers he was accused of attacking. An accusation of selling tickets in the black market was removed. The verdict […]

Senegal: Rapper Fou Malade acquitted in court

The procecutor had asked for six months imprisonment to the rapper Fou Malade but eventually, the judge didn’t listed to him and gave him his freedom. Fou Malade – whose real name is Almamy Malal Talla – was detained after having delivered a speech where he said some controversial remarks about the Senegalese Minister of Interior […]

South Korea: TV network bans pop song for using Japanese

Crayon Pop, the popular South Korean idol group, was banned from broadcasting its latest track on one of South Korea’s biggest networks. The reason? It contains the Japanese word ‘pika’. Source:  www.kotaku.com

YouTube: Threats to block indie labels who don’t sign up to new music service

Independent artists could disappear from YouTube “in a matter of days” after the Google video service confirmed it was dropping content from independent labels that have not signed up for its upcoming subscription music service.  The company’s head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl, confirmed that YouTube will block videos from labels that do not […]

Saudi Arabia: Edicts on music wade into controversy

A fatwa by a Saudi scholar banning participation in prayers led by an imam who held the view that music was not forbidden in Islam has waded into controversy. Shaikh Adel Al Kalbani last week said that music was tolerated in Islam and that people could listen to songs. However, his view was promptly resisted […]

Singapore: Censorship of pop star A-mei condemned by fans

The Singaporean government’s censorship last week of a song by Taiwanese pop diva A-mei (阿妹) at a music festival has sparked heated condemnation from Taiwanese internet-users.  The government reportedly said that lyrics addressing same-sex relationships were unsuitable for the event’s audience. Source: www.taipeitimes.com

Senegal: Rapper faces six months in prison for criticising authorities

On 19 June 2014, at a ceremony in the suburbs of Dakar on the mobilisation against drugs, Fou Malade, one of the rappers from the Y’en a marre movement (‘Enough’s enough’), said aloud to the Senegalese Minister of Interior and to the Director General of Police what everyone thinks quietly. His remarks led him straight […]

Iran: Three arrested for music video of men and women singing and dancing

Iranian police have arrested three people who appeared in an online video of young men and women singing and dancing in support of the country’s World Cup football team, the official IRNA news agency reported on 23 June 2014. The music video was produced by the London-based Ajam Band and features scenes from outside and […]

Turkey abuse laws to punish artists challenging authorities

Law suits, arrests, threats and banning orders, these are all dangers that artists in Turkey who touch on sensitive issues face today. This is pointed out by the UPR submission that Freemuse, Siyah Bant and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression has forwarded to the UN. The Turkish Anti Terror Law (TMK) continues to be […]

USA: Opera transmission cancelled over antisemitism concerns

A live transmission of ENO and the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the opera ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ has been cancelled over concerns about its ‘appropriateness at this time of rising antisemitism’. Freemuse joins the international joint statement: Nat’l and International Organizations Warn That Cancelling ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Screenings Endangers Creative Freedom, Undermines Institution’s Credibility NEW […]

Pakistan: Singer killed by four gunmen

» Dawn / AFP – 19 June 2014: Pashto singer Gulnaz shot dead in Peshawar Pashto singer Gulnaz alias Muskan was killed in the Gulburg area of Peshawar Cantt. Police said unidentified gunmen entered the house of Gulnaz also known as Muskan and shot her dead. » Samaa – 19 June 2014: Pashto singer Gulnaz […]

Morocco: Rapper in trial that seems to never end

Within just one week, the Moroccan rapper El Haqed has appeared twice at the trial court of Ain Sebaa, Casablanca. After which the trial was postpone once again, this time until Tuesday 17 June 2014. By Dounia Benslimane, reporting from Casablanca Accused of illegal ticket sales, of being influenced by alcohol in public and of […]

Iran: Female musicians banned from stage in Isfahan

Female musicians are not allowed to go onstage and give live performances in Isfahan. Mohammad Qotbi, the head of the Isfahan Culture and Guidance administration and also a member of the clergy, compared music bands to the national football team, saying that just as there are substitutes for players on the football team, music groups […]

Turkey: Imam given go ahead to make rock‘n’roll

A Turkish imam, Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, has been allowed to rock on after the country’s powerful religious authorities gave him the green light to continue playing in his band after a nine-month investigation. Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, a Muslim religious leader from a tiny hamlet on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, was investigated by the Diyanet, the state […]

Azerbaijan: Music by Armenian composer banned in Baku

Organisers of the forthcoming European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships, which is held in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, have asked the Belarusian team to refrain from playing music by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, head coach of the Belarusian team Irina Laperskaya told a press conference in Minsk. The Azerbaijani authorities have long banned Armenian nationals and ethnic Armenian […]

Morocco: El Haqed’s hearing postponed

On 5 June 2014, Mouad Belghouate, the Moroccan rapper known as El Haqed or Lhaqed, passed by the trial court of Ain Sebaa in Casablanca, Morocco, for the third time since his arrest on 18 May 2014. Freemuse attended the hearing. By Dounia Benslimane, reporting from Casablanca At the entrance of the building, plain clothes […]

Tibet/China: Popular Tibetan singer arrested after packed concert

Chinese authorities in Khyungchu County have arrested the popular Tibetan singer Gepey following a packed concert participated by several other singers from various parts of Tibet on May 24, reported Phayul.com. Gepey was arrested by Barkham County Public Security Bureau after a concert that was attended by thousands of fans and music enthusiasts. A group […]

Russia: Law bans swearing in arts

Russia’s predident Vladimir Putin has signed a new censorship bill into law, which means that artists and filmmakers in the country soon may find themselves in trouble for using profanity in “literature and arts, mass media products, at concerts, theatrical performances, entertaining events, as well as in films.” The law is expected to take effect […]

Tanzania: Censorship of music and films underway

The Tanzania Film Censorship Board of the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports has said it will start censoring music and film works before they are released to the public. » See on  allafrica.com

Morocco: Interview with attorney of arrested rapper El Haqed

The detained Moroccan rapper El Haqed will stand trial again on 29 May 2014. Freemuse talked with El Haqed’s attorney, Mohemed Messoudi, who provides new information about the case.  By Daniel Brown   Could you describe the circumstances of El Haqed’s arrest? “Haqed was arrested on Sunday 18 May at around 2pm along with his […]

Freemuse condemns arrest of Morocco’s ‘musical reporter’

Freemuse condemns the arbitrary arrest of artist and human rights activist Mouad Belghouat, alias El Haqed (The Indignant) also known as L7a9ed on Sunday 18 May 2014 – for the third time in three years. “Morocco should live up to international conventions guaranteeing free speech,” says Freemuse Director Ole Reitov. El Haqed has earlier been […]

Iran: An indie rock band can play once but not twice

In-depth article by Sune Engel Rasmussen, a journalist based in Tehran, about censorship and the arts in Iran. Excerpts: “For Iranians, negotiating the barriers of censorship is in itself an art form. Film directors, in particular, have long been masters of bending the rules, using metaphors and symbolism to subtly inject criticisms against the system […]

United Arab Emirates: Lady Gaga concert censored to respect culture

A planned Lady Gaga concert in Dubai in September will be censored to respect cultural traditions, Reuters reported. The article was published in Ahram in Egypt, United Arab Emirates Daily Gulf News, and more. » See on  english.ahram.org.eg

Nigeria: Arrested anti-president singer freed, says ‘No regret’

Popular Kano political musician, Dauda Kahutu Rarara who was arrested over a song he composed on the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to Kano State has been released from detention. Dauda Kahutu Rarara had allegedly been arrested and interviewed by the operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) in Kano for his music labelled ‘Mai […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haqed arrested again

The Moroccan rapper El Haqed – also known as ‘L7a9ed’ – has been arrested again by Moroccan authorities, reported BelmKaddem. Belmkaddem – 19 May 2014: Moroccan Rapper El Haqed – L7a9ed – Arrested again by Moroccan Authorities By repetitively arresting and beating an artist who doesn’t sugar-coat Morocco’s dark side, and uses rap as a […]

North Korea: Singer who was claimed executed is apparently alive

In August 2013, the North Korean singer Hyon Song-Wol was reported by South Korea’s largest daily newspaper The Chosun Ilbo to have been executed by firing squad. On 16 May 2014, she appeared on North Korean state television, apparently alive and well, as she delivered a speech at a national art workers rally in Pyongyang. […]

Azerbaijan: Foreign music banned in Nakhijevan

The Nakhijevan TV and Radio Broadcasting Committee has banned broadcasting of all foreign music on Nakhijevan radio channels, the Azerbaijani news portal Haqqin.az reported. “The ban includes genres such as rock and rap, regardless if they have been produced within Azerbaijan and are sung in the Azerbaijani language. It includes Turkish songs as well,” writes […]

Turkey: Protests against proposed arts council

Turkish artists and arts organisations fear that a new draft bill prepared by the Erdoğan government will serve as a tool for the government to crack down on free expression of artistic work, creativity and cultural themes The bill is seen as a tool to give the government the absolute power to shape the arts […]

Russia: Film festival shut down

A human rights documentary film festival was shut down by government authorities in Russia on 5 May 2014 over what organizers say is censorship of controversial content. The May 32nd Film Festival had to cancel its opening event after Saint Petersburg officials claimed unlikely sounding local code violations. Fire inspectors shut down the venue hosting […]

Freemuse meets Pussy Riot: Punk is a great inspiration

There was a good deal of humour and a talk about the meaning of punk culture when original Pussy Riot members Masha and Nadya (Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova) met Freemuse Director Ole Reitov in front of an audience at a jam-packed Kulturhuset in Oslo, Norway, on 13 May 2014. Asked whether music has to […]

Russia: Pussy Riot members appeal sentence in Supreme Court

The sentence of controversial Pussy Riot punk band members has been appealed again. The band member Yekaterina Samutsevich has filed with Russia’s Supreme Court a supervisory appeal against the verdict. In August 2012, the Khamovnichesky District Court in Moscow sentenced Samutsevich and two other Pussy Riot members – Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – to […]

Egypt should abolish censorship of the arts

AFTE and Freemuse publish an extensive study on censorship of artistic expression in Egypt. The 84-page report ‘Censors of Creativity’ reveals that the Egyptian government needs to reform the current legislative and institutional apparatus of censorship. “Several conservative restrictions imposed on artistic creativity contravene human rights standards and basic liberties,” says Ahmed Ezzat, the Egyptian […]

Uzbekistan: Singer speaks out on oppression in atmosphere of dissent

On 1 May 2014, tweeting in both Uzbek and Russian, singer Ozoda Saidzoda appeared to lay the blame for her career setback squarely at the door of the country’s prime minister, Shavkat Mirziyaev Ozoda later elaborated on her tweets in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service, claiming she has been a victim of persecution […]

Belarus: Minsk authorities banned Amaroka band concert

Officials have refused to issue a touring certificate for a concert of Amaroka. The musicians were explained that their art could be treated as war or extremism propaganda and pose a threat to national security. Head of the Department of Culture of the Minsk City Executive Committee, Vitalina Rudzikava, has officially prohibited a concert by […]

Zimbabwe: South African band deported

The South African pop group Freshly Ground was immediately sent packing soon after it touched down at the Harare International Airport on 4 May 2014, but reasons for the deportation remained sketchy with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke saying he was equally puzzled by the development. According to News Day, informed sources […]

Nigeria: Popular musician arrested for song against president

A popular musician in Kano, Ahmed Audi Zarewa, has been reportedly arrested by the State Security Service, SSS, for recording a song to protest against President Goodluck Jonathan. The song was said to have been recorded by Ahmed to protest President Jonathan and his entourage’s singing and dancing rally the very morning that more than […]

Russia: Musicians speak of censorship, persecution and viciousness

Violations of freedom of expression in Russia hit the frontpages of newspapers and websites all over the world in 2013 when two members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were imprisoned. Many other music groups and artists in Russia face censorship and persecution – but their cases are never heard of outside of Russia. […]

Syria: Surviving civil war with heavy metal

Armed with a cellphone and borrowed camera, the young Syrian Monzer Darwish seeks refuge in producing a ‘rockumentary’ about Heavy Metal music in Syria. His documentary film called ‘Syrian Metal Is War’ is currently being edited in Lebanon. A trailer was published on youtube.com in January 2014: Syrian Metal Is War – Documentary Promo Published […]

Belarus: Outspoken musicians endangered

In May 2014, the Icehockey World Championships will begin in Belarus, and the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka will do its best to ensure that fans and tourists experience Belarus as a “normal” European country. Lavon Volski is a musicians who wants to “rock” that facade of normality. With his new album he has decided to […]

France: Open letter addresses censorship in the arts sector

An open letter, ‘Against censorship, action!’, signed by 20 organisations and published by the French organisation Observatoire de Liberté de Dréation on 24 March 2014, has focussed attention on the ongoing challenges of censorship in French arts and culture. The letter denounces what it calls a “legal arsenal” used by ultra-conservative groups to prosecute, sanction […]

Iran: Signals of growing musical freedom of expression

With women singing on stage and a playlist of Western pop songs sung in English during performances of ‘The Last Days of March’ in Tehran, Iranian musicians are breaking new ground, reported Scott Peterson for Christian Science Monitor. Musicians and actors say that Iran’s culture space has opened up noticeably under the centrist President Hassan […]



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