News stories

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 ami 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 Keyvan 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 […]

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 […]

 

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