News stories

Israel: Director and actresses receive death threats over feminist film

Palestinian film director and activist Maysaloun Hamoud has received a fatwa against her, as well as multiple death threats, which the actresses in her film ‘Bar Bahar’ (In Between) also received, due to it featuring taboo topics, such as drug and alcohol abuse and homosexuality, reported Telquel on 9 March 2017. Hamoud confirmed that she […]

India: Film cleared for release by appellate board

On 24 April 2017, India’s Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) overturned a decision by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and cleared film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ for release in the country’s cinemas on 21 July 2017, reported The Guardian on 26 April 2017. “There cannot be any embargo on a film being women […]

China: Banned Hong Kong film scrubbed from award coverage

Chinese media blocked live coverage of the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards on 9 April 2017 every time mention was made of Hong Kong crime film ‘Trivisa’, which was banned from screens in mainland China upon its release in 2016, reported South China Morning Post on 10 April 2017. Chinese media had also erased the […]

Malaysia: Art group withdraws from show after artwork was removed

Two large pieces of art by Borneo-based art collective Pangrok Sulap were removed from the Escape from the SEA exhibition organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL) allegedly due to complaints over content, reported The Malay Mail Online in March 2016. The first piece, entitled ‘Sabah Tanah Air-Ku’, was removed from the National Visual Arts […]

Lithuania: Cinemas refuse to screen Russian film over propaganda

Cinemas in Lithuania have refused to screen Russian superhero movie ‘Guardians’ over the content of the film, which depicted “the excessive power of the Russian army”, its “aggressive military doctrine” and “heavy weaponry”, reported Gazeta on 20 February 2017. The film, a close twin to the Hollywood Avengers and Justice League superhero movies, tells the […]

Israel: Ultra-orthodox city censors female cartoon character from film posters

Posters and a billboard for animated film ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ have been scrubbed of their lone female character, Smurfette, in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, leaving three male cartoon smurfs on the advertisements, reported Jewish Telegraph Agency on 27 March 2016. The movie’s distribution company, Forum Film, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 29 […]

South Korea: Public broadcaster deems songs from pop star’s new album unfit

South Korea’s public broadcaster KBS has banned four songs from K-pop star Psy’s latest album from being broadcast due to their lyrics, reported Korea Joongang Daily on 18 May 2017. KBS said the lyrics to ‘New Face’ and ‘Bomb’ had lyrics that were “too vulgar for television; while the lyrics to ‘I Luv It’, though […]

Uganda: Dutch film banned for ‘glorifying homosexuality’

Uganda’s Media Council banned the screening of 2010 Dutch film ‘De Eetclub’ (The Dinner Club) because it “depicts and glorifies homosexuality” and includes scenes of nudity, drinking, smoking and the use of “lurid language”, the Dutch Embassy in Uganda revealed in a Facebook post on 15 May 2017. The film was scheduled to be screened […]

Cambodia: Actress banned from filming due to revealing photos

On 25 April 2017, Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ disciplinary council banned actress Denny Kwan from working in the entertainment industry for a year due to the artist posting pictures of herself in sexy clothing, reported The Phnom Penh Post on 27 April 2017. ”I know it’s my right to [dress how I […]

USA: Christian retailer pulls rap album from shelves over offensive word

Christian retailer LifeWay dropped Christian rapper Sho Baraka’s latest album ‘The Narrative’ from its stores after customers complained about offensive language, specifically the word “penis” in the album’s final song, reported The Washington Post on 8 February 2017. “Like any retailer, LifeWay has a responsibility not to carry resources with content our customers consider inappropriate,” […]

Canada: Film shoot moved after being denied permission over indigenous character

The Hollywood production of Liam Neeson-starring film ‘Hard Powder’ has moved into the province of British Columbia after their application with Parks Canada for permission to film in the province of Alberta was denied due to concerns over an indigenous gang leader character, reported CBC News on 15 March 2017 “They objected to the fact […]

India: Comic receives death threats over stand-up video

Indian stand-up comic Kunal Kamra received death threats over a video of one of his sets ‘Patriotism and the Government’ that he uploaded on YouTube on 1 March 2017, reported First Post on 16 March 2017. The video begins with a slogan from a student protest in 2016: “India is a democracy, until you criticize […]

USA: Theatre artistic director re-instated after nude scene controversy

Burgess Clark, artistic director of Boston Children’s Theatre, returned to his position after having been suspended due to controversy over a nude scene in a production of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ that the director refused to remove, reported The Boston Globe on 10 May 2017. Two board members had demanded the director remove […]

Poland: Artists boycott festival over alleged blacklist

The National Festival of Polish Song, traditionally held annually since its establishment in 1963 in the south western city of Opole, was cancelled after controversy ensued over an alleged artist blacklist by organiser and sponsor Polish Television (TVP) that led to a boycott of more than 20 artists, reported Radio Poland and Financial Times in […]

Iran: Filmmaker released from prison

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi was released from Evin Prison on 19 April 2017 after serving nearly five months of a one-year sentence, reported Amnesty International on 27 April 2017. Karimi, who is from a Kurdish background, was originally charged in October 2015 with a six-year prison sentence and 223 lashes on charges of “insulting the […]

Zimbabwe: Musician flees country due to death threats over song

When Cris Gera released ‘Chema Zimbabwe’ (Cry for Zimbabwe) in 2016 he saw it as a lament – a prayer for his troubled country and its deepening economic, social and political crises. But others saw it differently. Soon after its release Gera got a call from an unidentified caller warning him of dire consequences because […]

United Kingdom: Protest song not played ahead of election

Ahead of a snap election in the United Kingdom on 8 June 2017, politically-active band Captain Ska released their ‘Liar, Liar’ protest song on May 26, which catapulted into British charts despite the BBC refusing to play the song on the radio due to impartiality rules during elections. In less than a week, the song was […]

Saudi Arabia: Books banned, performance interrupted at book fair

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information banned and confiscated books by Egyptian writer Youssef Zeidan from the Riyadh International Book Fair, held from 8 to 18 March 2017, reported Cairo Portal on 12 March 2017. The writer told Masr Alarabiya on 11 March 2017 that his books were available during the launch of the […]

Lebanon: Two movies banned from film festival

Two movies – ‘Beit Al-Baher’ (The Beach House) and ‘Mawlana’ (The Preacher) – were not granted screening permissions during the Beirut Cinema Days film festival held in Beirut, Lebanon, from 15 to 24 March 2017, reported Stepfeed on 24 March 2017. During the ninth edition of the festival the Lebanese censorship board enforced strict regulations […]

Vietnam: Musician released early after serving full six-year prison sentence

Authorities in Vietnam have released musician Hoang Nhat Thong (real name: Tran Vu Anh Binh) from prison on 21 May 2017, four months before serving out his full six-year prison sentence, reported Radio Free Asia on 22 May 2017. “I feel elated, but now I am like a fish that has been on the shore […]

In prison for a year in Iran; artists call for musician’s and filmmaker’s release

COPENHAGEN / NEW YORK, 1 June 2017 | Two Iranian artists will have been in prison for a full year on 5 June, sentenced for their peaceful artistic expressions. Today, artists and supporters of artistic freedom from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East called for their release in a public letter sent […]

Freemuse founders receive 2017 Danish Nairobi Award

Nairobi Club chair, Arne Skadhede, with Marie Korpe and Ole Reitov © Kim Dang Trong Freemuse co-founders Marie Korpe and Ole Reitov received the 2017 Danish Nairobi Award on 31 May 2017 in Copenhagen. The award is presented annually by the Nairobi Club (Nairobiklubben) to a person, group or organization that “in a reputable way […]

Russia: Theatre, director’s home raided in fraud investigation

By Oksana Chelysheva The morning of 23 May 2017 in Russia began with news of a scandal that swept across social media – authorities searched the flat of Russian stage and film director Kirill Serebrennikov. Soon after, news came out that riot police raided Gogol Centre, the theatre that Serebrennikov has been artistic director of […]

Egypt: Writer wins appeal, court orders retrial

A Cairo court of misdemeanour cassation ruled on 21 May 2017 in favour of writer Ahmed Naji’s appeal to cancel his initial two-year prison sentence for publishing “sexually explicit” writings in one of his novels, reported Ahram Online on 21 May 2017. The court ordered a retrial for the writer to be heard by a […]

United Kingdom: Deadly attack at pop concert in Manchester

At least 22 concertgoers have been reported killed and 59 more injured, among them children and teenagers, when a lone male detonated an explosive device after US singer Ariana Grande’s music concert ended at Manchester Arena in England, reported BBC on 23 May 2017. Freemuse is deeply saddened by the attack in Manchester and offers […]

Russia: Draft bill “protecting values” to be discussed by Duma

By Oksana Chelysheva Russia’s State Duma will discuss a bill at the end of May 2017 that would seek to “protect high important values” in public, extending to art venues and cultural establishments, including galleries, theatres and museums. In March 2017, Russia’s Civic Chamber, the country’s consultative civil society body tasked with analysing draft legislation […]

Egypt: Musician takes Music Syndicate head to court

Nearly a year after his arrest on charges of “devil worshipping” and “promoting music that contradicts Egyptian religious beliefs and cultural norms”, Egyptian heavy metal musician and concert promoter Nader Sadek is suing Head of the Music Syndicate Hani Shaker for libel and defamation. The initial hearing is scheduled to take place at the Abdeen Misdemeanour Court […]

Artists gather to defend the right to artistic freedom in Bangladesh

Dhaka, 19 May 2017 | Artists around the world face threats and limitations from government and non-state actors. Such challenges are also a daily reality for Bangladeshi artists. To address the issue and develop ways to improve the situation, artists and human rights activists gathered in Dhaka for a two-day discussion session organized by Drik […]

Venezuela: Singer received death threat from parliamentarian

Venezuelan singer Oscarcito (real name: Oscar Eduardo Hernández Villegas) received a death threat over social media by Member of Parliament Juan Díaz who told the singer to wear a bulletproof vest at his concerts because he would “roll” [Latin American expression denoting “to die”] in one of them, reported El Nacional on 24 April 2017. […]

Iran: Musician and filmmaker returned to prison

On 7 April 2017, the Center for Human Rights in Iran reported that music producers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian returned to Evin Prison in Tehran on 4 April after their request for an extension of their seven-day temporary leave was denied by the judiciary. “The only change in the new year was that we walked […]

Tunisia: British DJ sentenced to jail for playing dance version of Muslim prayer

A Tunisian court sentenced British DJ Dax J to a year in jail for “public indecency” and “offending public morality” after playing a dance remix of the Muslim call to prayer on 31 March 2017 at the ORBIT Festival in the north eastern coastal town of Nabeul, reported BBC on 7 April 2017. The Bristish-born, […]

Tanzania: Two rappers and a producer abducted from studio by unknown people

Tanzanian rappers Roma Mkatoliki (real name Ibrahim Mussa) and Moni, as well as producer Bello bin Laden, went missing on 5 April 2017 after unidentified people raided Tongwe Records in the Masaki area of Dar es Salaam and abducted the three artists, along with another person who was in the studio at the time. Member […]

Cuba: Authorities ban book by exiled author

Cuban authorities have retained all copies of exiled Cuban author Armando Lucas Correa’s new book ‘The German Girl’. The copies were shipped from the US as part of the cargo to be exhibited by Publishers Weekly’s delegation at the Havana International Book Fair, reported Diario de Cuba on 25 February 2017. Customs authorities in Cuba […]

Austria/Turkey: Concert cancelled, song banned related to referendum vote

As Turkey gears up for a constitutional referendum on 16 April 2017, steps have been taken at home and abroad to influence voters that have also affected art and artists. In the south eastern province of Şırnak, the local government banned song ‘Bejin Na’ (Say No), the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) official referendum campaign […]

Germany: Right-wing groups protest installation in Dresden, threaten mayor

The unveiling of artist Manaf Halbouni’s ‘Monument’, a peace memorial inspired by the Syrian war consisting of three buses standing upright on their ends beside the Frauenkirche church in Dresden, drew protests from right-wing groups from the AfD (Alternative for Germany) nationalist party and PEGIDA movement, reported Deutsche Welle on 7 February 2017. Additionally, Dresden […]

Norway: Exhibition attacked; municipality allegedly tries to keep incident quiet

On 1 March 2017, a man tore down and took four of the 25 works by cartoonist Arifur Rahman on display at an exhibition set up for newly arrived asylum seekers in the southern Norwegian city of Drøbak, reported Human Rights Service on 24 March 2017. The man, who behaved in a threatening manner, said […]

Spain: Rapper appeals three-and-a-half-year prison sentence over lyrics

Spanish rapper Valtonyc (real name Miquel Arenas Beltrán) and his lawyer confirmed they presented an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court to repeal his three-year-and-six-month prison sentence on various charges related to his lyrics, reported Europa Press on 9 March 2017. The Spanish National Court, a High State Court directly under the Supreme Court that […]

Ukraine: Russian Eurovision contestant banned over performance in Crimea

Ukraine’s security service has banned Russian singer Julia Samoilova from entering the country for the next three years due to her giving a performance in Crimea in 2015, thus not allowing her to compete in European song contest Eurovison taking place in capital Kiev in May 2017, reported BBC on 22 March 2017. Geneva-based Eurovision […]

Algeria: Writer under investigation over allegedly insulting Islam in novel

PEN International has called on Algerian authorities to abandon the investigation of writer Anouar Rahmani for allegedly insulting Islam in his latest novel ‘Jibril’s Hallucination’. If prosecuted under article 144 (bis 2) of the penal code, the writer could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 dinars (approx. […]

Tanzania: Rapper released after being detained over song

Tanzanian popular rapper Ney wa Mitego (real name Emmanuel Elibariki) was released on 27 March 2017 without charges from police custody after he was held for nearly two days for his new song, ‘WAPO (They are There)’, which allegedly ridiculed the government. Minister of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Harrison Mwakyembe said Tanzanian President John […]

Venezuela: Catholic universities ban transgender film, filmmakers say

The production crew of film ‘Tamara’ in a public statement reported that Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB) and Catholic University Santa Rosa (UCSAR) refused to screen their film as they considered it a piece of “transsexual propaganda”, reported Venezuelan newspaper 2001 on 6 March 2017.   The film is inspired by the life of Tamara […]

China: PEN International calls for release of imprisoned Tibetan writer

PEN International continues to call on Chinese authorities to release Tibetan writer Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, who has served more than eight years of his 15-year prison sentence after being convicted of “disclosing state secrets”, PEN International said on 1 March 2017. Based on the evidence, the organisation stated it believes the writer “is very […]

Israel: Gallery served eviction notice hours prior to event

Just hours before the Barbur Gallery in Jerusalem hosted an event by Breaking the Silence NGO, which included a discussion of their latest report on Israeli settler influence on Israeli Defence Forces activities in the West Bank, the city municipality ordered the eviction of the independent gallery within 90 days, reported The Times of Israel […]

Ukraine: Art exhibition suffered multiple threats and attacks

More than a dozen masked men stormed into the Visual Culture Research Centre (VCRC) on 7 February 2017, vandalized Davyd Chychkan’s ‘The Lost Opportunity’ exhibition and beat a security guard at the venue in Ukrainian capital Kiev, reported Polish network Political Critique on 8 February 2017. VCRC reported on its Facebook page that just a […]

Belarus: Ukrainian writer apprehended and banned from entry

Belarusian security agents apprehended Ukrainian writer and poet Serhiy Zhadan from his hotel in Minsk in the middle of the night of 11 February 2017, detained him overnight in a prison cell and ordered him to leave the country by the end of the day, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 11 February 2017. Zhadan, […]

Tunisia: Imams call for removal of play poster

‘Alhakumu At-Takathur’ (Miscarriage) play director Nejib Khalfallah was forced to censor the play’s poster after being verbally attacked by Islamists and conservatives for using part of a Qur’anic verse in the title, reported The Arab Weekly on 26 February 2017. On 16 February, Tunisian National Theatre (TNT) received a warning from the National Union Council […]

Mexico: Narcocorrido musician killed for singing to the wrong cartel

On 3 March 2017, Rolando Arellano Sánchez, a member of the narcocorrido band Contacto, was shot and killed by cartel members who were waiting for him outside the house of another member of the band in Tijuana city, reported Univision on 5 March 2017. Sánchez, the 22-year-old guitarist and back-up vocalist of the band, was […]

Cuba: Exhibition bans photo of official tabloid being used as toilet paper

Cuban photographer Erick Coll stated via his Facebook account that one of his works depicting a woman using the state-run weekly tabloid Trabajadores (Workers) as toilet paper was removed from the Erotic Art Salon at the Fayad Jamis’ Gallery in Havana, reported El Nuevo Herald on 10 February 2017. The banned photograph entitled “Valor de […]

Jordan: Film allegedly banned after special screening

Director Mahmoud Assad in a statement said that Jordan’s Media Commission has banned his latest film ‘Blessed Benefit’ because it “contains several scenes that undermine the state’s authority”, reported news site AgiArab on 21 February 2017. Massad refuted the allegations by saying that security agencies granted him permission to shoot the film in 2014 and […]

Israel: Police detain Palestinian writer allegedly over novel

Israeli police detained Palestinian writer Khalida Ghosheh after raiding her home in the neighbourdhood of Beit Hanina in eastern Jerusalem and took her into custody for interrogation on 11 March 2017, reported the Ma’an News Agency. Ghosheh told her lawyer that the reason for her detention was related to her latest novel ‘Masyadat Ibn Awa’ […]

India: Two female singers threatened by radicals and clerics

As many as 46 clerics and Islamic organisations in the north-eastern state of Assam issued a fatwa banning teen female singer Nahid Afrin from singing at a musical show on 25 March. The fatwa comes just days after reports revealed that another female singer, Suhana Syed, has been receiving threats from radical Islamists for singing […]

Bangladesh: Government bans film, no reason given

The Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) banned film ‘Doob: No Bed of Roses’ on 16 February 2017, just a day after it had approved the film with a “no objection certificate”, reported Variety on 17 February 2017. In their letter to the film’s production company, the BFDC said it cancelled the certificate because of a […]

Pakistan: Police ban music at weddings in village

Police in the village of Mattani, a suburb of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province capital Peshawar in northern Pakistan, have banned all music from wedding ceremonies, reported Pakistan’s Express Tribune on 13 March 2017. A local villager told the newspaper that police are not only stopping events, raiding homes that host such banned events, and arresting […]

Iran: Ten films banned from international film festival

The new culture and Islamic guidance minister for Iran, Reza Salehi Amiri, announced on 19 January 2017 that ten films have been banned from entering the 35th annual Tehran Fajr International Film Festival set to take place 21-28 April 2017, reported the Center for Human Rights in Iran on 26 January 2017. Amiri said the […]

China: Gallery cancels event due to government pressure over Tibetan artist

Macau-based iAOHiN Amber gallery cancelled Tibetan painter Tashi Norbu’s live painting event after receiving pressure from Chinese government officials, reported Hong Kong Free Press on 27 February 2017. The artist, who was in Hong Kong at the time, added that Chinese authorities threatened to arrest and deport him if he tried to enter Macau, reported […]

Kuwait/Lebanon/UAE: Countries ban Egyptian film over religious concerns

Egyptian film ‘Mawlana’ (Preacher) has been banned in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon over backlash from religious clerics amid fears it could “incite sectarian strife”, reported Arab Times Online, An-Nahar and Al Bawaba in February 2017. Lebanese censors objected to 12 minutes of the film, saying it “could incite sectarian strife and provoke […]

Freemuse addresses women’s issues at UNESCO

Women artists are at particular risk in many countries and are discriminated from performing in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This was highlighted during an international seminar at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Women’s International Day, 8 March 2017. Freemuse Executive Director, Ole Reitov shared a panel with Deeyah Khan, filmmaker, producer and […]

Lebanon: Religious believer blacked out of film

Lebanese-French filmmaker Philippe Aractingi expected his latest film ‘Ismaii’ (Listen) to be censored due to some sex scenes in the film, however only one scene in the film was censored by covering a Druze cleric with a black mark, reported French news outlet Courrier International on 8 February 2017. Though the film received approval from […]

Freemuse delivers recommendations at UN Human Rights Council session

Support artists victimized by terror and develop early cultural warning system Freemuse on Monday 6 March 2017 delivered an oral statement at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council on the negative effects of terror on art and cultural industries. Two of the main messages to the Human rights council were that: The international […]

Nigeria: Singer arrested, out on bail for releasing uncensored song

Singer Sadiq Zazzabi (real name: Sadiq Usman Saleh) was released on bail on 6 March 2017 after having been detained since 1 March 2017 for allegedly releasing a song before receiving approval from the Kano State Censorship Board in the country’s north, reported Nigerian newspaper Premium Times on 6 March 2017. The newspaper reported on […]

Turkey: Artist sentenced to two years and ten months in prison

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was sentenced to two years, nine months and 22 days imprisonment for her painting showing the destruction by Turkish security forces of the Kurdish city of Mardin in the Nusaybin district, reported Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on 6 March 2017. While on assignment for the all-female news agency JINHA […]

Iran: Musician and filmmaker attacked and threatened in prison

On 5 March 2017, the Center for Human Rights in Iran reported that musician Mehdi Rajabian and filmmaker Keywan Karimi have been beaten and threatened by other inmates in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison while being imprisoned in the ward for political prisoners. According to the organisation, authorities are violating the law by refusing to move […]

Spain: Censorship under Franco still looms over the arts

While Dr. Jordi Cornella, currently a lecturer in Hispanic studies at the University of Glasgow, began his research on censorship in translated works under Francisco Franco’s dictatorial regime in Spain (1939-1975), his findings took an unexpected turn. “It was a total surprise,” Cornella told Freemuse, explaining his discovery that literary works that had been censored […]

Israel: Gazan singer on conditional release by Hamas authorities

On 25 January 2017, Hamas authorities in Gaza released singer-comedian Adel al-Mashwakhi on bail after having been arrested and in prison since 11 January 2017 for a video he posted on his Facebook page, reported Minneapolis Star Tribune on 26 January 2017. Al-Mashwakhi said his release was conditional upon him no longer making “politically flavoured” […]

Saudi Arabia: Music video and government initiatives split society

A music video entitled ‘Hwages’, which loosely translates to “concerns”, featuring a trio of veiled female artists with colourful clothing underneath, playing together and singing about the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia has not only gone viral, but has also divided the country, reported The Independent on 5 January 2017. The women, while they […]

Pakistan: Singer interrupts show to rescue woman from harassment

Pakistani singer and actor Atif Aslam briefly stopped his concert in Karachi on 14 January 2017 to rescue a female audience member who was being harassed by having security staff pull her up on stage and finding her a safer place to enjoy the show, reported Hindustan Times on 16 January 2017. Aslaf issued a […]

Podcast: Spotlight on Saudi female artists

What’s it like to be a female artist in one of the world’s most conservative states? Today is Music Freedom Day, which makes a special focus on women performers and musicians and we therefore bring you this podcast by Big Hass, founder and radio host of Laish Hip Hop – Saudi’s First FM Hip Hop […]

Philippines: Film festival bans filmmakers, revokes award

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee decided to ban director Alvin Yapan and two producers of film ‘Oro’ for one year due to controversy over a scene where a dog was allegedly killed, reported Philippine news portal Interaksyon on 6 January 2017. The committee’s decision came after it already revoked the Fernando Poe […]

Tanzania: Artists’ trial postponed for a fifth time

The case against Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide and music producer Mussa Sikabwe has once again been postponed until 9 March 2017. This is the fifth time their trial date has been pushed. The two artists were initially set to face trial on 12 October 2016 on charges of producing, singing and distributing a song called […]

Israel: Palestinian authorities ban book, issue arrest warrant for writer

Palestinian authorities have banned Abbad Yahya’s latest novel ‘Crime in Ramallah’ for “indecency”, confiscated copies of the novel from bookstores and issued an arrest warrant for the writer, who is currently in Qatar on business and afraid of going back home, reported Al Jazeera on 10 February 2017. “I don’t know what to do. If […]

Libya: Authorities confiscate truckload of books

Authorities in the eastern town of Marj seized a truckload of “un-Islamic” books imported from Egypt on their way to Benghazi, reported The Express Tribune on 23 January 2017. Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Authority security officials and religious leaders called the books part of a “cultural invasion”, saying that the books promoted eroticism, secularism, Christianity, […]

Israel: Palestinian writer arrested and detained

Israeli forces arrested writer Walid Hodali on 16 January 2017 after storming his home and confiscating some of his belongings in Ramallah in the West Bank, reported Palestine Today. The Voice of Palestine reported on 16 January 2017 that the writer was taken to an unknown location and the reason for his arrest was unknown. […]

United Kingdom: Paintings stolen and vandalised; death threats received

Artist Russell Haines and members of the clergy of Gloucester Cathedral received anonymous death threats and accusations of blasphemy after several of Haines’ paintings, which were part of an exhibition held in the cathedral portraying people from a wide range of religious beliefs, were stolen or vandalised, reported The Guardian on 12 February 2017. Haines […]

Qatar: Playing with the censors

The state of Qatar is young and old at the same time, immersed in both modernity and tradition. Governed by strict Islamic principles under the supreme power of the emir, Qatar is a place where freedom of speech is very limited, and where artistic expression risks being banned or censored due to its religious content […]

Turkey: Two mayors ban Kurdish director’s film

Two Turkish mayors have imposed bans on Kurdish director Mahsun Kırmızıgül’s latest film  ‘Vezir Parmağı’ because they say it “undermines national and spiritual values” and the is considered to be a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “sympathiser”, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 2 February 2017. Anamur district mayor Mehmet Ture said he wouldn’t let a film […]

Argentina: City mayor suspends all electronic music festivals

Mar del Plata mayor, Carlos Arroyo, issued a decree on 10 January 2017 suspending all electronic festivals in response to drug-related deaths in various Argentinian cities. The measure also reportedly aims at preventing drug consumption and reducing the number of clandestine raves, reported El Marplatense on 10 January 2017. The measure was announced despite the […]

China: U.S. rock band forced to cut songs from setlists

Heavy metal band Metallica’s concerts in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai had certain songs removed from their setlists due to China’s censorship policies, reported South China Morning Post on 23 January 2017. Metallica frontman James Hetfield told the newspaper: Why shouldn’t you respect their culture when you’re there as a guest and you’ve been invited […]

India/Pakistan: Films continue to fall victim to threats and censorship

India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, which revolves around the stories of four women, reported Hindustan Times on 23 February 2017. The CBFC stated the reason for the denial was that: “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious [sic] sexual […]

China: Imprisoned Tibetan singer released after completing sentence

Tibetan singer Achok Phulshung was released from prison on 2 February 2017 after completing his four-and-a-half year prison sentence for singing songs praising the Dalai Lama and about Tibetans killed in 2008 during peaceful protests, reported The Tibet Post International on 3 February 2017. “We welcome the release of Achok Phushung, but note with great […]

Mali: Music festival cancelled due to attacks

Northern Mali’s Festival au Désert was set to return to Timbuktu on 28 January 2017 after having been in exile since 2012, but Malian officials decided to block it after suicide bombers attacked a military camp in Gao on 18 January 2017,  killing 77 people and injuring more than 100 others, reported The Guardian on […]

Azerbaijan: Rapper’s family detained over music video

Azerbaijani authorities detained rapper Jamal Ali’s mother, uncle and two cousins for four days after Ali released an online music video critical of the government, reported Eurasianet on 9 January 2017. The video for song ‘Heykal Baba’ (Monument Grandpa) was released on 31 December 2016 and was dedicated to two young activists who are serving […]

Cuba: Artist El Sexto released after two months in prison

Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado was released from maximum-security prison on 21 January 2017 after spending two months behind bars and being moved multiple times among several detention centres, reported Artforum on 21 January 2017. El Sexto was released after the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNGWAD) began reviewing a legal petition […]

Iran: Band banned from festival due to women singing solo

Kurdish band Dayrak Khatoon was banned from performing at the International Festival of Tribal Music in Kermanshah, in western Iran, due to the band including women who also sing solo, reported Kurdistan Human Rights Network on 22 January 2017. The organisation reported that a critical article was published in Marsad News accusing the band of […]

Iran: Writer re-arrested after temporary release from prison

Revolutionary Guards re-arrested Iranian writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee while on her way to visit her hospitalised husband, reported Amnesty International on 25 January 2017. Ebrahimi Iraee had been temporarily released from prison on 3 January 2017 pending a judicial review of her six-year sentence for writing an unpublished fictional story. The writer told Amnesty International […]

Censorship continues on online platforms

Online media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, continue to come under fire for taking down content, including artistic works, seemingly arbitrarily or unevenly, for violations of their standards. In some cases, such platforms go as far as blocking people’s accounts for the content they post. Facebook in particular was at the centre of […]

Pakistan: Scores killed during devotional activities at Sufi shrine

At least 88 people have been killed, and hundreds more injured, on 16 February 2017 after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a crowded Sufi shrine in Sehwan, a town in the southern province in Sindh, reported The Guardian on 17 February 2017. “The explosion took place when a large number of people were […]

Mexico: New city constitution protects art, culture and free speech

The Constituent Assembly of the Mexican capital has embarked on a project to create its first constitution and has approved a new article in which art, culture and education will be protected and granted by authorities. The article states that cultural diversity and freedom of expression must be respected and censorship will not be applied. […]

Ukraine: Banning of films continues

By Oksana Chelysheva In the period from 2014 to 2017 over 500 films produced in Russia have been banned from being broadcast and distributed in Ukraine. The list published by Ukraine’s National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting comprises not only films produced in Russia during the conflict which erupted in spring 2014, but also […]

Joint statement regarding the impact of the U.S. immigration ban on artistic freedom

National and International Cultural and Human Rights Organisations Denounce Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration On 7 February 2017, more than thirty cultural institutions and human rights organisations around the world, including international arts, curators’ and critics’ associations, organizations protecting free speech rights, as well as U.S.-based performance, arts and creative freedom organisations and alliances, issued […]

Art Under Threat: Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2016

(* click on the images to enlarge) Freemuse registered 1,028 attacks on artists and violations of their rights in 2016 across 78 countries, continuing a worrying trend of artistic freedom increasingly coming under threat. The number of cases registered in 2016 more than doubled the amount in 2015, increasing by 119%, rising from 469 attacks. […]

USA: Artists arrested, banned, receive death threats related to Trump actions

Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli and US singer Jennifer Holliday both backed out from performing at the US presidential inauguration of Donald Trump just days before the event revealing they received death threats if they went ahead with their performances, reported Daily Mail on 15 January 2017. “They were saying I should kill myself or […]

Peru: Exhibition cut short due to controversial LGBT artworks

The fifth edition of contemporary art exhibition ‘Outside’ was cut short by venue organisers French Alliance of Arequipa due to three works by Peruvian artist Jesús Álvarez that made reference to the city of Arequipa’s plurality and diversity by pointing to its “queer nature”, reported Sin Fronteras on 27 December 2016. According to exhibition curator […]

USA: Censorship continues in public spaces and schools

Throughout 2016 and into the beginning of 2017, the US has seen multiple cases of censorship and attempted censorship of art in public spaces and schools. Murals on public walls or in university halls, books in school curricula and productions of plays and musicals have all been targeted by a variety of groups because of […]

Afghanistan: Zohra receives Freemuse Award: “This can inspire young women”

A packed concert hall in Geneva witnessed concert master Marjan Fidaee receive the 2017 Freemuse Award on behalf of Zohra, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra, on 25 January 2017. In her acceptance speech Marjan Fidaee said, “The award was not only for the Zohra orchestra but for all Afghanistan.” Dr Ahmad Sarmast, founder of the Afghanistan […]

USA: Rapper sues city, police over “unlawful” arrest for rap lyrics

Rapper Tiny Doo (real name: Brandon Duncan) filed a lawsuit against the city of San Diego and two police officers on 10 January 2017 for what he claims was his unlawful arrest in July 2014 on gang conspiracy charges.    The charges were based on rap lyrics about shootings and gang activity featured on Tiny […]

Zohra – The Afghan Women’s Orchestra – is winner of Freemuse Award 2017

Zohra, the winner of the Freemuse Award 2017, is the first and only all women orchestra in Afghanistan. They are students at the National Institute of Music (ANIM) and the first women in their families, community and country to learn music in over 30 years. “With exceptional courage and dedication these young women are breaking […]

Venezuela: Judge issues nationwide ban on film about boxer

A Caracas Children and Teenagers Protection Court judge, Salvador Mata García, issued a nationwide ban on film ‘El Inca’, based on the life of boxer Edwin “El Inca” Valero, as a preliminary measure in response to a complaint by the boxer’s family, reported El País on 25 December 2016. The ban includes the movie’s screening, […]

India: Mural erased from festival after far-right group’s protest

On 26 December 2016, the last day of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s (IIT-B) Mood Indigo cultural festival, dozens of protestors from far-right political party Shiv Sena entered the campus and demanded a mural depicting a modern version of Hindu god Hanuman be erased from the wall, reported The Indian Express on 26 December […]

China: Ministry of Culture allegedly blacklists 55 artists

China has allegedly blacklisted 55 artists, mostly musicians, a majority of whom are from Hong Kong and Taiwan, who have participated in pro-democracy movements or expressed political views that China deems objectionable, reported Quartz on 11 January 2017. Hints of the blacklist came a week earlier, on 6 January, when works by some pop artists […]

Zambia: Hounded singer remains defiant

by Phoenix Gauthier, Freemuse correspondent On 11 August 2016, incumbent Zambian president Edgar Lungu squeezed out a controversial victory in the general elections, taking 50.35% of the votes. In the months that followed, Zambia experienced its worst attacks on press freedom in years. Three of its media outlets were suspended, including Muvi TV, the southern […]

Turkey: Detained artist released, awaiting trial

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was released from Turkey’s Mardin Women’s Prison on 9 December 2016 after having been arrested and detained on 21 July 2016 on charges of being a “member of an illegal organisation”. Though free, Doğan will face trial in Febraury 2017, reported IFEX on 21 December 2016. Prosecutors used […]

Burundi: Music censorship or artist protection?

Since a political crisis hit Burundi in May 2015, tensions have been high between the powers that be and the opposition; the media and civil society have all been involved in this polarising battle; and it seems that the newest victims of this battle are local musicians who now need to pass a “quality test” […]

Israel: Police temporarily shut down Palestinian theatre

Israeli forces posted a notice outside the el-Hakawati Theatre (also known as the Palestinian National Theatre) in Jerusalem stating the theatre would be closed from six o’clock in the evening until midnight on 8 December 2016 to prevent the performance of a musical they claim is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of […]

Iran: Writer temporarily released on bail

Iranian writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was temporarily released from prison on bail on 3 January 2017, reported Amnesty International. She had been in prison since 24 October 2016 to serve a six-year sentence for writing an unpublished story about the practice of stoning as punishment in the country. The writer’s human […]

Iran: Two artists arrested, released on bail

Security forces arrested poet and actor Raouf Delfi and actor Sayed Hasan Mousavi (also known as Sayed Blood) in Abadan, in western Iran, on 13 December 2016. At the time of arrest the location of their detention was unknown, as well as their charges, reported PEN International on 22 December 2016. The organization reported on […]

Cuba: Festival bans film portraying Castro’s ill treatment of homosexuals

The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) decided to ban the film ‘Santa y Andrés’, which had been pre-selected for display at the Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, also known as the Havana Film Festival, that took place 8-18 December 2016. The film was deemed contrary to Revolutionary values and […]

Russia: Artistic freedom threatened by nationalist and orthodox groups

While Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed in a meeting with film directors and artists in early December 2016 to protect artistic freedom, he also said artists carry a responsibility not to offend religious believers, saying “there is a very narrow divide between dangerous shock value and freedom of creativity”, reported The New York Times on […]

Turkey: Two sculptures removed after protests

City officials removed a sculpture from outside the A Plus shopping mall in the western part of Istanbul just two days after it went up after a “big crowd” protested the work, reported Artnet on 29 December 2016. Ahmet Güneştekin’s word sculpture featuring the old name for Istanbul – Konstantiniyye – in large, colourful block […]

Turkey: Novelist released on probation after 132 days of detention

Novelist Aslı Erdoğan was released from prison on 29 December 2016 after 132 days of being held in pre-trial detention on charges of terror propaganda due to her affiliation, as an advisory board member, to newspaper Özgür Gündem, reported The Guardian on 30 December 2016. The writer was released on probation, pending trial. If convicted, […]

Israel: Art featuring ministers stirs controversy

Two recent displays of art featuring Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have caused renewed uproar over art and freedom of expression in the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Controversy erupted at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem after a provocative poster featuring Netanyahu with a hangman’s noose was displayed at […]

Switzerland: Zurich cuts theatre’s funds in light of controversial play

The canton of Zurich cut its 2017 grants by 50,000 Francs (approx. $49,000 USD) to Neumarkt Theatre following the staging of a controversial play by artist Philipp Ruch that mocked publisher and parliamentarian Roger Köppel, member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), reported Swissinfo.ch on 7 December 2016. During the play, the public was […]

India: Art exhibition vandalised, artist attacked

On 8 December 2016, right-wing activists from two different groups stormed the fourth annual Jaipur Art Summit, damaged paintings, attacked and injured a painter, and stole a painting in protest of it featuring semi-nude women, reported India Today on 8 December 2016. “It happened so fast. Painting is your heart, it is your baby. It […]

UAE: Film festival cancels screening of Egyptian animated short

‘The Unknown Sweet Potato Seller’, a short animated movie by Egyptian filmmaker Ahmed Roshdy, was cancelled on 11 December 2016, just 24 hours before its screening as part of the “Muhr Short“ competition at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), reported Mada Masr on 13 December 2016. DIFF posted a statement on its official […]

Spain: Exhibition organisers censor artworks by former terrorist prisoners

Curators of art exhibition ‘Giltzapekoak: Notas Sobre La Reclusión’ (Giltzapekoak: Notes on Imprisonment) reported that the San Sebastián 2016 Foundation decided to censor various artworks made by prisoners and former prisoners of Basque terrorist group ETA that were to be displayed as part of the San Sebastián 2016 European Culture Capital programme. The foundation claims it […]

Egypt: Writer’s prison sentence suspended pending final verdict

Egypt’s highest court suspended the two-year prison sentence against writer Ahmed Naji who was imprisoned for “violating public decency” by publishing “sexually explicit” writings featured in his novel that also appeared as excerpts in a literary magazine, reported Reuters on 18 December 2016. The court temporarily suspended the writer’s sentence and was set to be […]

Iran: Imprisoned filmmaker granted 72-hour medical leave, back in prison

Freemuse has learned from its sources that filmmaker Hossein Rajabian was granted a 72-hour medical leave earlier in the week to address health problems that have grown worse while in prison. Hossein was taken back to prison after the three days were up. Hossein and his musician brother Mehdi had been on a second hunger […]

Sweden: Outdoor sculpture partly burned down

Around a quarter of Lars Vilks’ large outdoor sculpture in the Kullaberg nature reserve in southwest Sweden was burned down in an incident police suspect to be arson, reported Afton Bladet on 24 November 2016. The artwork, entitled ‘Nimis’, consists of a series of wooden sculptures made out of 75 tonnes of driftwood and is […]

YouTube: Video banned for “sexual content” re-appears with disclaimer

American rapper Mykki Blanco’s latest music video ‘Loner’ was taken down from YouTube on 2 December 2016 as it didn’t meet “community guidelines”; hours later the video was put back on the site, but now with a “content warning” and viewers need to sign in to confirm their age, reported Billboard on 2 December 2016. […]

Sweden: New report examines threats against commissioners of art

Art galleries, publishers, libraries, museums and other promoters and curators of art, along with their staff, like artists, are also victims of attack for showing or making art available to the public and audiences, a new report by the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy published 30 November 2016 revealed. The report, ‘Custodians or guards? Commissioning […]

Argentina: German electronic band’s concert re-instated after appeal

Authorities in Buenos Aires denied German electronic band Kraftwerk a permit for their performance scheduled for 23 November 2016 due to their use of synthesizers in their show; an instrument included in a judicial ban enacted earlier in the year on electronic festivals. A few days later, the concert’s promoters appealed the decision and a […]

Kuwait: Censorship hits book fair

Book fairs across the Arab-speaking regions in the Middle East and North Africa have not only grown in popularity, but have also been places were publishers can sell books that are not allowed to be sold in stores. However, the Kuwait International Book Fair, once a free space for books, has been growing stricter in […]

Egypt: Two libraries shut down, one threatened with closure

On 1 December 2016, authorities shut down two al-Karama public library branches in Tora and Dar al-Salam. The libraries were founded by Gamal Eid, human rights lawyer and head of Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), without any warning or official reason, simply stating they had “received orders” to do so, reported Mada Masr. […]

Singapore: Two performances cut from festival due to ‘excessive nudity’

Two performances – Ming Poon’s ‘Undressing Room’ and Thea Fitz-James’ ‘Naked Ldies’ – were cut from the 2017 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed they exceeded the R18 age rating, according to the festival’s statement released on 5 December 2016. Festival organisers added that while the artists were willing […]

Cuba: Artist El Sexto violently arrested over Castro-related graffiti

Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado was violently arrested by state security forces at his apartment in capital Havana, on 26 November 2016, hours after he took to the streets, upon the official announcement of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s death, and painted graffiti around the city stating “se fue”(he’s gone), reported Cuban newspaper 14ymedio […]

Iran: Imprisoned musician’s health deteriorating

Imprisoned Iranian musician and music distributor Mehdi Rajabian communicated via social media on 3 December 2016 that his health condition continues to worsen, despite him being granted a four-day furlough for medical treatment. In his Instagram post from 3 December, Mehdi said: They want me to go back to Prison tomorrow, while I haven’t been […]

Iran: Art gallery owning couple held in detention since July without charge

In late July 2016, Islamic Revolutionary Guards detained art gallery owners Afarin Niasari and her Iranian-American husband Karan Vafadari at the Tehran airport, where they were arrested and taken to Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, reported International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on 2 December 2016. The couple have been held without charge or access […]

Turkey: Seven members of Grup Yorum arrested

Turkish police arrested seven members of famous folk band Grup Yorum on 23 November 2016 on charges of assault, resisting and insulting police, and being members of a terrorist group, reported Birgün on 24 November 2016. Grup Yorum’s lawyer Aytaç Ünsal told the Turkish newspaper: Even 3 days after they were initially taken into custody, […]

Malaysia: Cartoonist arrested after exhibition attack

Cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, popularly known as Zunar, was arrested on 26 November 2016 for breaching the peace under Malaysia’s Sedition Act, just one day after an angry pro-government mob attacked his exhibition of satirical cartoons about the prime minister and other national leaders at the George Town Literary Festival, reported newspaper Free Malaysia Today. […]

Mexico: Congress proposes restrictions on “narcoseries”

A Senator and a parliamentarian both called for hardening restrictions on the airing schedules of “narcoseries” – television series in which the main topics are drug kingpins and the crimes they’re responsible for, reported El Economista on 31 October 2016. Senator Zoé Robledo and parliamentarian Lía Limón, both presidents of the Radio and TV Commissions […]

Iran: Imprisoned musician granted four-day medical leave

Musician Mehdi Rajabian, after being on hunger strike for 30 days demanding he and his brother receive much needed medical attention, was given a four-day medical furlough on 27 November 2016, according to an Instagram post the musician posted on 28 November 2016. His filmmaker brother Hossein, who also needs medical assistance, remains in prison. […]

Egypt: Writer remains imprisoned after court rejects third appeal

On 26 November 2016, a Cairo misdemeanour court ruled against novelist Ahmed Naji’s third appeal over his two-year prison sentence for “violating public decency” by publishing “sexually explicit” passages in his novel ‘The Use of Life’, which were also published in a literary magazine in 2014, reported Ahram Online. The author was sentenced to prison […]

Kenya: Film board bans “obscene” music and “offensive” musician names

Kenya’s Film Classification Board (KFCB) and its head, Ezekiel Mutua, announced on 19 November 2016 that they have issued a ban on local musicians using stage names they consider to be “offensive”, as well as the sale of music that contains “obscene” lyrics or glorifies drug abuse and violence. Mutua announced the news on his […]

Iran: Filmmaker begins serving prison sentence

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi began serving his one-year prison sentence on 23 November 2016 on charges stemming from his 2012 film ‘Neveshtan Rooy-e Shahr’ (‘Writing on the City’) on the history of Iranian graffiti and wall writing and how it has changed due to political and social events, reported AFP. Karimi, who is from a […]

Ukraine: Film agency bans slew of Russian films and one German film

According to the Ukrainian State Film Agency, it has banned at least 26 Russian tv series and films since September 2016 from being aired on television or screened in cinemas across the country in accordance with Article 15-1 of its Law on Cinematography, which prohibits content that “popularizes” or features propaganda of “aggressors”. In addition […]

United Nations member states urge Iran to improve human rights

Eighty-five United Nations (UN) member states voted on 15 November 2016 calling upon Iranian authorities to take real steps in correcting its human rights record. The resolution builds upon last year’s adopted resolution where Iran accepted 130 recommendations made to its human rights record and practices stemming from the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process […]

India: Film censorship board agrees to new film ratings

India’s controversial Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has accepted recommendations by a government-appointed committee headed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal to introduce more categories in its film classification system and to allow online certification of films, reported Hindustan Times on 9 November 2016. Benegal’s committee submitted a report that would re-structure the over 60-year-old […]

China: Art film censored by cultural bureau

On 7 November 2016, the Shanghai Cultural Bureau censored a film by artist Sun Xun at the private Minsheng Art Museum without giving a reason, reported The Art Newspaper on 8 November 2016. A sign next to the empty screen that was to show Sun’s 2011 woodcut animation ‘Some Actions which Haven’t Been Defined Yet […]

Norway/Russia: Musician cuts song from concert due to Russian pressure

The Russian Consulate General in Kirkenes, a town in north-eastern Norway near the Russian border, has interfered with a literature festival in the area by voicing its concern over a sold-out concert to be held on 17 November 2016 by Norwegian folk musician Moddi and Russian Arkhangelsk Chamber Orchestra, reported The Barents Observer on 15 […]

Deeyah Khan to be appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Award-winning film director and activist Deeyah Khan will be appointed UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom on 21 November 2016 by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova at the organisation’s headquarters in Paris. Welcoming the appointment, Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov said: We have worked with Deeyah for many years and jointly addressed the importance of […]

Iran: Artists’ medical condition on hunger strike growing worse

Musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, began their second hunger strike on 28 October 2016, since being imprisoned on 5 June 2016, demanding they receive a medical furlough for their increasingly severe medical conditions, which are growing more severe as a result of the hunger strike, reported International Campaign for Human Rights […]

Ghana: New film law establishes strong National Film Authority oversight group

The Ghanaian government passed its new film act to promote and grow the Ghanaian film industry and establishes a National Film Authority to oversee such development, including the task of developing a code of ethics for the industry, creating a committee to approve and classify films, and managing a new film fund, the Ghanaian government […]

China: New film law to “promote socialist core values”

Chinese lawmakers passed the country’s first extensive film law set to take effect in March 2017, which directs filmmakers to produce films that “serve the people and socialism”, “prioritise social benefits”, and don’t “jeopardise national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity”, reported Chinese news agency Xinhua on 7 November 2016. The Film Industry Promotion Law in […]

Pakistan: Two suspects arrested over musician’s murder

Two men suspected of killing Amjad Sabri, one of Pakistan’s most famous singers, among other high-profile killings, were arrested by police as part of a city-wide crackdown in Karachi that netted dozens of arrests after a spate of sectarian shootings that left five dead in late October, reported Reuters on 7 November 2016. Sindh province […]

Iran: Artist awaits appeal of five-year prison sentence

Iranian artist and painter Shahriar Siroos is awaiting a judgment on his appeal over his five-year prison sentence handed down by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in September 2016 on charges of establishing a group to “perturb the security of the country” related to him teaching art classes at his home, reported International Campaign […]

Germany: Foreign ministry cancels controversial concert at consulate in Istanbul

Germany’s foreign ministry cancelled a 13 November 2016 Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance of ‘Aghet’, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, scheduled to take place at the German consulate in Istanbul, reported Deutsche Welle on 25 October 2016. The ministry said in a short message that “the whole consulate in Istanbul is not available […]

Angola: Rappers’ concerts cancelled, one shut down by police

Rappers Ikonoklasta (real name: Luaty Beirão) and MCK planned to hold joint concert ‘Ikopongo’ on 5 November 2016 at a venue in Angolan capital Luanda, but had to reschedule the event for the next day at a different venue after management cancelled the show; the relocated show was then shut down by police, reported Deutsche […]

Spain: Theatre organisers cancel show under interest group pressure

Three theatre organisers who were putting together multi-day event ‘Night of the Dead 2016’ in Águilas, a Spanish coastal town, decided to cancel all scheduled Halloween activities after an association that defends mentally ill people and their families filed a complaint to the city’s town hall over one of the play’s representations of mentally ill […]

Saudi Arabia: Ministry confiscates thousands of books from library cafe

A committee from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information confiscated thousands of books on 4 November 2016 from the Al Rawi Café, located north of the Saudi capital Riyadh, due to most of them not having been officially approved by the ministry, reported Al Mayedeen on November 6. Ministry spokesman Hani al Ghafily defended […]

Freemuse calls for charges dropped against Tanzanian musicians ahead of trial

Musician Mwana Cotide (real name: Fulgency Mapunda) and music producer Mussa Sikabwe are set to go trial on 9 November 2016 on charges that their recent song ‘Dikteta Uchwara’ (Petty Dictator) contains “seditious and offensive” content towards Tanzanian President John Magufuli. The artists are also charged with “distributing the song with intent to offend” the […]

Iran: Musician sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes

On 5 November 2016, Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) was sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes after being found guilty of “spreading Western immorality”, reported Al Bawaba on 6 November 2016. The singer’s original sentence was for ten years and 74 lashes, but the time term was reduced in […]

 

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