News stories

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 […]

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 Sekabwe 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 […]

Kyrgyzstan: Commission and extensive criteria created for banning films

Kyrgryz Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov signed a decree on 14 October 2016 establishing a new nine-person commission to undertake the task of screening and banning “audio-visual products” according to a long list of criteria, including scenes showing various forms of violence and sex, reported Kyrgyz media organisation Kloop on 24 October 2016. Muktaly Bektenaliev, the […]

France: TV channel censors political message on rapper’s T-shirt in new video

In an act that sparked public outrage on social media, French TV channel W9 decided to blur out rapper Black M’s T-shirt when airing his new video for his song ‘Je Suis Chez Moi’ due to a political message referring to a controversial death under police custody, reported Le Parisien on 19 September 2016. The […]

Malaysia: Singaporean film banned due to “cultural sensitivities”

Singaporean film ‘Fundamentally Happy’ has been banned by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF) as it “may be sensitive to the feelings of Malaysian Malays and may be interpreted by Malaysian Malays as an attempt to reflect the community’s attitude towards those who abuse the weak to fulfil their desires”, according to the filmmakers’ […]

Egypt: Downtown Cairo art gallery raided by police

Police and national security officials stormed the Mashrabia Gallery for Contemporary Art in downtown Cairo on 31 October 2016, a gallery employee told Freemuse, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying it took everyone at the gallery “completely by surprise”. Rather than raiding the gallery and asking for its license or official documents, the employee said […]

Uruguay: Police asks gallery to remove nude painting of politician couple

Julio de Sosa’s ‘Genesis’ painting portraying former Uruguayan presidential couple José Mujica and Lucía Topolansky as Adam and Eve, was taken off the walls from an exhibition at the Diana Saravia Art Gallery in downtown Montevideo on the command of police, reported El País de Uruguay on 20 October 2016.  According to gallery owner Diana […]

Argentina: Filmmakers claim government censorship over Falklands film

Screenwriter Ramón Garcés, along with producers of the short film ‘Entre dos mundos’ (Between two worlds), claimed they were victims of governmental censorship after the Malvinas Museum refused to screen their film about the social abandonment and lack of recognition suffered by Argentinian veterans who fought in the Falklands (Malvinas in Spanish) War against the […]

Iran: Artists call for support in letter from prison

“We urge all artists from around the world to show their protest and criticism against all of this [being denied legal rights and medical attention], in a peaceful way, worthy of an artist,” wrote artists Hossein Rajabian and Mehdi Rajabian in a letter from prison. “Stand by our side and [don’t] forget us, because being […]

Israel: Culture minister and activists call for cancellation of Palestinian rapper’s performance

Israel’s controversial Minister of Culture Miri Regev tried to persuade the city of Haifa and its mayor to cancel Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar’s performance at the 32nd annual Haifa Film Festival due to his stance on Israel, reported The Times of Israel on 18 October 2016. Regev’s letter followed warnings from Likud party activists who said […]

Kenya: Draft law on film and theatre censorship broad and severe

Ezekiel Mutua, Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO, has come under fire ever since he unveiled a draft Films, Stage Plays and Publications Act in September 2016 intended to replace the outdated 1963 Films and Stage Plays Act, due to it extending the board’s responsibilities to regulating all parts of the creative process, instituting severe […]

Pakistan: Ban on dance classes in private schools revoked

Sindh province chief minister Murad Ali Shah revoked a ban on dance classes in private schools on 23 October 2016 that circulated two days before as a letter from the private schools director-general Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui of the province’s education department, reported The Express Tribune on 23 October 2016. In a statement, chief minister Shah […]

Bolivia: Feminist mural criticising church and state censored

On 12 October 2016, a group of unidentified people painted over a mural just one day after it had been finished and displayed on the façade of the Museo Nacional de Arte (National Art Museum) in La Paz, Bolivia, because the group was strongly offended by its negative and graphic portrayal of two core Bolivian […]

Candidates to the UN Human Rights Council are grave violators of artistic expression

Copenhagen 27 October 2016 | Freemuse is deeply concerned about the candidacies of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Cuba, for seats in the UN Human Rights Council. These countries are leading the league of countries violating freedom of artistic expression and cannot be considered qualified to protect human rights in the Human Rights Council. “The […]

New Zealand: Court overturns ban on 2014 political parody song

New Zealand’s Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s decision to reverse the ban placed on Darren Watson’s song, ‘Planet Key’, and its accompanying animated video by Jeremy Jones, which were released during New Zealand’s 2014 general election and seen as political advertising rather than a parody on Prime Minister John Key, reported New […]

Kazakhstan: Pop group banned in some towns on national tour

The following article on the troubles Kazakhstan’s Korean Pop group, Ninety One, has suffered on its national tour was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 23 October 2016, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to re-publish it here: Flashy Boy Band Roils Some As It Tours Kazakhstan It’s not easy being a boy band in […]

Iran: Writer arrested and imprisoned after violent home raid

On the morning of 24 October 2016, Iranian authorities broke through the front door of writer and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home, arrested her and took her to the women’s ward of Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison to begin serving a six-year sentence on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading proganda” in an unpublished novel […]

Lebanon: Backlash mounts after psychedelic music festival

The Hexaplex psychedelic music festival held from 1-4 September 2016 at a camping site in Chahtoul, Lebanon, 35 kilometres north of capital Beirut, has been receiving backlash from the local Christian community, politicians and general public who claim festivalgoers participated in acts contrary to their religious, cultural and social norms and values, including the use […]

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Play goes on after public persuades organisers

Theatregoers at the 56th annual MESS festival in Sarajevo persuaded festival organisers to not cave under pressure from Catholics and Muslims, or give in to threats from violent groups, and put on controversial director Oliver Frljic’s play ‘Our Violence and Your Violence’, reported The Washington Post on 10 October 2016. Bosnian Cardinal Vink Puljic filed […]

Belarus: Film banned from festival for “anti-human view of life”

The Belarusian Ministry of Culture’s expert commission on the prevention of pornography, violence, and cruelty has forbidden organizers of the sixth annual Bulbamovie film festival from screening Valeriya Tseliasheuskaya’s short film ‘Belarusian Scrambled Eggs’ due to its “numerous scenes of violence” and that “the relationships between the people in the film suggest a uni-dimensional, anti-human […]

South Korea: Alleged government blacklist of 9,473 artists over politics

South Korean daily newspaper Hankook Ilbo revealed on 11 October 2016 that the South Korean government blacklisted 9,473 artists from receiving state support, including financial support, due to their political activity of either being critical of the current government or backing opposition politicians, reported The Korea Times on 12 October 2016. The 100-page blacklist is […]

France: Art installation defaced by Turkish MP assistant

A 1,000-photo-collage art installation at the Council of Europe (CoE) headquarters in Strasbourg, France, was defaced by the parliamentary assistant of a Turkish member of the Assembly when they sliced off the “edited and toned down” version of the infamous Danish Prophet Muhammad cartoon, reported The Malta Independent on 14 October 2016. Norbert Francis Attard, […]

China: Two Tibetan singers released after serving out four-year prison terms

On 3 October 2016, Tibetan singers Chakdor and Pema Trinley were released from prison after serving out their four-year sentences in a prison in China’s southwestern Sichuan province and have returned to their hometown, reported Radio Free Asia on 6 October 2016. An anonymous source told the news outlet that they were welcomed by their […]

India: Actor challenges theatre censorship in court

On 20 September 2016, veteran actor and filmmaker Amol Palekar filed a petition to the Bombay High Court to challenge the Maharashtra state’s pre-censorship of plays, the practice of needing censor board approval of scripts before plays can be staged, reported news outlet The Quint on 28 September 2016. Of the 29 states in India, […]

How can you put a song behind bars: Dario Fo

Nobel Prizewinner wrote foreword to Freemuse book Dario Fo, famous for his cutting political satire has died at age 90. Fo, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1997, was also a songwriter and during his lifetime experienced censorship not only in Italy, but in many other countries as well. In 2007, he wrote a […]

United Kingdom: University cancels musical due to race row

A theatre at the University of Bristol cancelled all showings of its student production of musical ‘Aida’ due to protests over potential “cultural appropriation” that white students would be cast in the lead roles of ancient Egyptians and slaves, reported The Telegraph on 4 October 2016. The musical, written by Elton John and Tim Rice […]

Lebanon: Two films pulled from festival over politics

In its 16th year, the Beirut International Festival announced on 5 October 2016 that three films would no longer be part of the schedule due to Lebanese authorities not granting screening permits; however later in the week one movie, ‘The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood’ directed by Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, acquired the required permit and made […]

Ukraine: Lawmakers vote against bill banning Russian artists

Lawmakers in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, voted against a bill that would have restricted all Russian artists who wanted to tour in the country, and would only have been allowed to do so if they submitted a written condemnation of “the occupation of Ukrianian territory” to promoters, reported Billboard on 7 October 2016. The […]

Iran: Writer sentenced to six years in prison for unpublished novel

Iranian authorities have sentenced writer and activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee to serve six years in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda” in an unpublished novel found in her home in September 2014, reported The Independent on 6 October 2016. Ebrahimi Iraee said authorities called her on 4 October […]

Nigeria: Actress banned from film industry due to “immoral” performance

The Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) expelled Nigerian actress Rahama Sadau on 2 October 2016 for what it considers “immoral” actions as the actress played a character in a music video where she hugged, cuddled and held hands with the male artist, reported Nigerian media outlet Premium Times on 3 October 2016. In […]

Germany: Prosecutors drop investigation in Turkish president insult case

Due to insufficient evidence, German prosecutors dropped an investigation into German comedian Jan Böhmermann who was accused of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an “obscene” poem he recited on his satirical show on ZDF public television in March 2016, reported BBC on 4 October 2016. In a statement, the prosecutors said their investigation had […]

Tanzania: Two artists arrested for allegedly insulting president in latest song

Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide (real name: Fulgency Mapunda) and music producer Mussa Sekabwe were arrested for allegedly producing, singing and distributing a song called ‘Dikteta Uchwara’ (Petty Dictator) that contained “seditious and offensive” content against Tanzanian President John Magufuli, reported the Swahili Times on 29 September 2016. The two artists were charged at the Kisutu […]

Kuwait: Emirati street racing film banned without explanation

Government authorities have banned Emirati street racing film ‘Hajwala’ and have given no reason for their decision, according to the film’s producer, reported Gulf News on 28 September 2016. “We are very disappointed, especially because they [authorities] haven’t even explained to us why they have not allowed the film to release,” Dhabi Gulf Film producer […]

India/Pakistan: Films, actors, tv shows banned amidst Kashmir tensions

In a retaliatory exchange, Pakistan banned Indian films, tv shows and channels after India banned Pakistani actors and technicians from working on Indian films, as a response to deadly attacks over Kashmir that began on 19 September 2016. On 30 September 2016, the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) decided at an annual general meeting […]

Global: Anonymous art in public spaces

Index on Censorship published an article on 21 September 2016 about visual and graffiti artists displaying their art in public spaces under anonymity to protect themselves and their personal safety as many countries have vague laws about art in public spaces or the intent of content. The article explores the reality and motivations of these […]

Germany/Netherlands: Faroese metal band shows cancelled over whaling

Viking heavy metal band, Týr, from the Faroe Islands, have had at least six concerts of their 17-date November European tour supporting Norwegian metal band Sirenia cancelled over lead singer Heri Joensen’s participation in the Faroese practice of whaling. According to heavy metal news site MetalTalk.net on 30 August 2016, venue owners of club Logo […]

China: Singer’s music scrubbed from online music services due to Hong Kong activism

Music fans in China have reported that several major Chinese music and video streaming platforms, as well as the Chinese iTunes store, have removed, blocked or filtered out the music and online content of pop star Denise Ho, who has been active in the Hong Kong independence and pro-democracy movement since 2014, as well as […]

Russia: Theatres in an age of government intimidation

This article on the increasingly difficult environment theatres face for the content they stage from various Russian government bodies was originally published on 18 August 2015 by The Theatre Times, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to re-publish it here: Intimidation Tactics Caitlin Connell and Patrick Connelly have spent the summer in Moscow looking at the current […]

China: Tibetan poet re-detained after being released from prison one day earlier

Chinese authorities took writer and poet Gangkye Drupa Kyab back into custody just one day after his early release, having spent over four years of a five-and-a-half year sentence in a prison in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, reported Radio Free Asia on 23 September 2016. Kyab was released on 16 September and went back to […]

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

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

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

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

Tunisia: Culture Ministry bans Iranian film on Prophet Muhammad

The Tunisian Ministry of Culture banned Iranian film ‘Muhammad: The Messenger of God’, which focuses on the Prophet Muhammad’s childhood and adolescence, due to its “controversial content” and “personification and depiction of prophets”, which officials deem problematic for Tunisian society, reported news network Ansamed on 14 September 2016. “The personification and depiction of prophets causes […]

USA: Christian music festival drops band due to gay singer

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

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

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

Brunei: Ministry bans Malaysian film for being “bad influence”

In a 23 August 2016 letter, Brunei’s Ministry of Internal Affairs banned neighbouring Malaysian film ‘Pekak” (Deaf) stating it has no educational content and is a bad influence as it contains scenes of using and selling drugs, promiscuity, violence and women smoking cigarettes, reported news site My Metro on 2 September 2016. “We are aware the […]

UN Special Rapporteur releases report on intentional destruction of cultural heritage

In her latest report, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune states that the intentional destruction of cultural heritage is a human rights issue and calls for national and international mechanisms to prevent such destruction, hold those accountable who have caused the destruction and support and protect those who defend cultural […]

Somalia: Concert cancelled for “objectionable” shows in Europe

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

Zimbabwe: Artist abducted and tortured

Artist and activist Silvanos Mudzvova is recovering in a Harare hospital after six armed men abducted him from his home late in the evening on 13 September 2016, drove him out of the capital city and brutally tortured him, Mudzvova told Freemuse from his hospital bed. “The people who took me were well trained and […]

Turkey: Writer and brother detained on alleged coup-related charges

Prominent Turkish writer Ahmet Altan and his brother, academic and columnist Mehmet Altan, were detained by polce on 10 September 2016 for questioning on alleged coup-related charges that the brothers, according to the prosecutor’s office, “gave subliminal messages suggesting a military coup” on a TV programme that aired on 14 July 2016, a day before […]

Pakistan: Court reverses film ban

On 6 September 2016 the Sindh High Court ruled the Pakistan federal government’s ban on movie ‘Maalik’ illegal and cleared it for screening in the country, reported newspaper Dawn 6 September 2016. The film’s director Asher Azeem celebrated on Twitter, saying: “We waited patiently [and] we did not release the film illegally. We suffered, but […]

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

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

Egypt: Satirist troupe released after long detention, restrictions remain

A Cairo court ordered the release of four members of the satirist troupe ‘Street Children’ after it granted their appeal over a tenth renewal of their pre-trial detention that would have extended their already four-month-long imprisonment by 15 more days, though the investigation on various charges related to their online videos will continue, reported Aswat […]

Iran: Jailed artists go on hunger strike

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

USA: Schools reverse radio station ban on buses

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

Israel: Tensions remain strained between artists and culture ministry

Members of Israel’s artistic community have filed a lawsuit against the country’s ministry of culture as artists and cultural institutions increasingly feel threatened under culture minister Miri Regev, who has attempted, among other things, to put laws in place that would tie funding to “loyalty to the state”, thus curbing artistic expression in the country, […]

Mauritania: Rapper harassed and attacked by police

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

China: Ai Weiwei pulled from exhibition under political pressure

Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was dropped from the Yinchuan Biennale exhibition just weeks before it was scheduled to open due to “governmental pressure”, as confirmed by the Biennial Foundation, the New York-based group organising the exhibit, reported The New York Times on 26 August 2016. The artist received what he called “a vague letter” […]

Sierra Leone: Musician allegedly censored due to political song

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

Thailand: Two imprisoned actors released early

Two actors, Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkong, serving a two-and-a-half year prison sentence under the controversial ‘lèse majesté’ law – defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family – have been released early in a royal pardon, reported PEN International on 5 September 2016. Saraiyaem was released 55 days early on 12 August 2016 and Munkong was […]

Egypt: Author’s sentence upheld over “sexually explicit” novel

On 27 August 2016 a Cairo misdemeanor court rejected author Ahmed Naji’s request to suspend his two-year sentence on charges that he “violated public decency” by publishing “sexually explicit” passages in his novel ‘The Use of Life’, reported Ahram Online on 27 August 2016. The author was sentenced to prison in February 2016 in a […]

Burundi: Musician received death threats ahead of trip home

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

Israel: Detained Palestinian poet heads to trial over poem

On 6 September 2016, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour heads back to trial facing charges that one of her poems posted on YouTube and two Facebook posts constitute “incitement to violence”, a charge that carries a prison term of up to eight years. The charges mainly relate to Tatour’s poem on YouTube, ‘Resist my people, resist’, […]

USA: Artworks featuring guns seized at airport

Customs officials at Houston, Texas’ Bush airport have held three pieces of art made from decommissioned AK-47 assault rifles by British artist Bran Symondson, who was in the city to hold an art show, reported KPRC Houston on 11 August 2016. The artist’s works take real AK-47s and covers them in a variety of materials, […]

Iran: Concerts in the crosshairs

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

Malaysia: Artist released on bail; investigation pending

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

Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

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

India: Artists struggle with censors over LGBT and other themes

In recent months filmmakers and playwrights have been challenging Indian certification boards after works focusing on LGBT, political and religious themes have come under fire by censors, especially at a time when nationalist ideas and groups are gaining traction in the public and political spheres. LGBT themes in film India’s Central Board of Film Certification […]

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

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

Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, totalling 105 days

The Giza Criminal Court rejected satirist troupe Street Children’s second appeal against their lengthy pre-trial detention and further extended their detention by yet another 15 days, meaning that the four members of the group have been in detention for 105 days awaiting an investigation or even a court date, reported Daily News Egypt on 1 […]

United Kingdom: Woman’s right to read violated

British woman Faizah Shaheen, who was returning home with her husband after their honeymoon in Turkey, was detained by South Yorkshire police at Doncaster Airport on 25 July 2016 after Thomson Airways cabin crew members had reported her of “suspicious behaviour” for reading a book on Syrian culture, reported The Independent on 3 August 2016. […]

Turkey: Writer arrested amidst crackdown after coup attempt

Turkish police arrested novelist Aslı Erdoğan on 16 August 2016 in a raid on her apartment after a Turkish court ordered the temporary closure of newspaper Özgür Gündem. Erdoğan is on the advisory board of the newspaper. The closure is part of an intense state-of-emergency crackdown in response to a failed coup attempt on 15 […]

Malaysia: Censors alter ending of Indian gangster flick, cut scenes

Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board (LPF) changed the ending of blockbuster Tamil film ‘Kabali’ to insert a captioned moral message that crime doesn’t pay for Malay audiences rather than the original ending audiences in the rest of the world will see in which the fate of the lead character is left unknown, reported Malay Mail Online […]

China: Actor fired from film for “vague” Taiwan stance

Taiwanese actor Leon Dai, who played the lead character in Chinese romance ‘No Other Love’, was fired from the film for his alleged support of Taiwanese independence, reported Variety on 15 July 2016. In a statement, the film’s director Zhao Wei and investors apologised “for hiring the wrong person” and stated they were not “satisfied” […]

 

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