Front page stories

INSIGHT | Tunisia: Musicians confronted with censorship and repression

Of Tunisia’s entire artistic community, the musicians – and in particular urban rappers – have borne the brunt of the state’s censorship and repression. A wide legal arsenal has been used to drag musicians into court and throw them unceremoniously into gaol. By Daniel Brown  INSIGHT  In Tunisia, there are two kinds of rappers. First, […]

New series: Artsfreedom gives you INSIGHT

Documenting incidents of censorship has never been enough. From the very beginning Freemuse has attempted to put censorship of music and arts into a larger context. Our new series  INSIGHT  provides you with articles and features that dig a little deeper. Read Daniel Brown’s fascinating interview with French street artist Combo Culture Kidnapper, who was […]

Swedish city offers Egyptian musician safe city residence

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

United Kingdom: Common statement in defense of offensive art

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

Artists are truth tellers risking their lives for us

Our consideration of the human rights in any country should include the freedom of artists to express their heart, writes Deeyah Khan – a critically acclaimed music producer, composer and an Emmy award-winning documentary film director – in this statement she submitted to the United Nations in March 2014. Video recording of Deeyah Khan’s speech […]

Pakistan: Voiceless singers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cry for security

Black curtains have fallen on Pashto cinema in KP as militants have speeded up their attacks. Musicians are receiving death threats, being kidnapped and forced to leave their homes. Local government hopes a new cultural policy can change the desperate situation for artists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. By Sher Alam Shinwari, reporting for Freemuse from Peshawar […]

South Korea: K-pop music booms but censors still loom

The South Korean music style K-pop has become a success story of music export and glamour, but a long history of censorship and regulation still affects the music markets in South Korea. By Yoo Eun Lee, Global Voices Korean editor and founder of K-pop Decoder     K-pop has dominated the Asian music market for […]

The soundtrack of Syrian resistance

Music has been at the core of the Syrian uprising since its beginning in 2011, and for the same reason musicians have been killed and are being silenced by force. It is part of an attempt to impose political and religious agendas, reports Spanish-Syrian activist Leila Nachawati, who is a professor of Communications at Carlos […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç joins Freemuse at conference

The Turkish singer Ferhat Tunç will join Freemuse Director Ole Reitov on 12 February 2014 at an international conference ‘Freedom of Speech – Perspectives and Initiatives’ in Uppsala, Sweden. Ferhat Tunç, a Freemuse Award winner, has faced dozens of court cases in Turkey. He is considered one of the most important voices for the rights […]

Iran: Freemuse and PEN welcomes release of poets on bail

PEN International and Freemuse welcomes the release on bail on 14 January 2013 of poets and lyricists Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi. They had been held in Evin Prison since 7 December 2013, apparently for their critical writings, no formal charges against them are known. No further action is required at this stage although PEN International […]

Safe havens for artists at risk – a Nordic perspective

On 10-11 November 2013, the Swedish Arts Council organised a Nordic Expert Meeting about Artistic Freedom of Speech to consolidate the growing movement to provide safe havens for censored and oppressed cultural workers. Several workshops demonstrated the complexity of organising safe havens for artists. During the meeting two cities, Stockholm and Malmö announced they will host […]

UN report on artistic freedom launched at EU Parliament

Members of the European Parliament will join a lunchtime presentation of the UN Report ‘The Right to Freedom of Artistic Expression and Creativity’ at the European Parliament in Brussels on 2 October 2013. The report will be presented by its author, Mme Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, who was […]

USA: Madonna launches platform to fight oppression and intolerance

‘Art For Freedom’, led by the American superstar Madonna, is a new digital initiative, an online ‘public art project’, designed to fuel free speech. ‘Art For Freedom’ encourages the world to express their personal meaning of freedom and revolution in the form of video, music, poetry or photography. ‘Art For Freedom’ will launch on 1 […]

North Korea: 12 musicians executed by firing squad

Unconfirmed reports claim the famous North Korean pop singer Hyun Song-wol was among a number of musicians who were executed by firing squad on 20 August 2013, according to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. On 29 August 2013, South Korea’s largest daily newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reported that Hyun Song-wol had been executed by […]

North Korea: Sun Mu – the faceless painter

Sun Mu is not the artist’s actual name. It’s a nom de plume that uses a combination of two Korean words that translate to ‘The Absence of Borders’. It not only represents what he feels is the transcendence of art but also the literal military demarcation line that keeps the Korean people separated. BY JASON […]

Turkey: Actor allegedly persecuted by newspaper

“My life is not secure, I have applied for protection through my lawyers,” said the Turkish actor Memet Ali Alabora who directed and acted himself in a theatre piece entitled ‘Mi Minör’ to support the protestors around Gezi in Istanbul. Yeni Şafak newspaper made an extensive coverage on Mi Minör, saying that it was the […]

Vietnam: Musician fined for publishing CD with “depraved contents”

Ngọc Đại, a prominent experimental musician, was fined 30 million dong (app. US$ 1,500) for publishing and distributing his latest album without permission to do so. 1,000 copies of the album were printed, and almost sold out, before authorities reacted. It features lyrics by poets Bui Chat and Nguyen Dinh Chinh who allegedly are banned […]

Tunisia: Rapper Weld El 15 set free with a reduced sentence

An agreement was reached to “end the prosecution of Weld El 15 in return for an apology to security officials,” according to National Union of Professional Tunisian Singers. Instead of the two-year prison sentence handed down on 13 June 2013 for his song ‘Boulicia Kleb’, the 25-year-old artist (real name Ala Yaacoub) received a six-month […]

Russia: Exhibition closed by authorities, gallery curator dismissed

Marat Guelman, a famous gallery curator in Russia, was dismissed as director of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art after backing the controversial ‘Welcome! Sochi 2014’ exhibit by Vasily Slonov. Officials reportedly allege that Vasily Slonov used the Sochi 2014 symbol without permission and have launched a legal case. The art exhibition was closed by Russian […]

Australia: Police seized allegedly “inappropriate” art, gallery closed

Artistic freedom of expression and the threat of censorship has dominated debate in the art world of Australia after police raided a Melbourne art gallery, seizing part of an installation, on 25 May 2013. “Let not the law be a weapon to close down artist expression,” said Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts Martin Foley, […]

Tunisia: Rapper sentenced to two years imprisonment, violence in court

On 13 June 2013, the Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 was (again) sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the police in a song. Weld El 15, who had previously been in hiding, turned himself in and was immediately taken into custody. Cries were raised in the court room when the verdict was announced. […]

China: Two Tibetan singers sentenced to two years in prison

Two Tibetan singers, Pema Trinley, 22, and Chakdor, 32, who were detained in 2012 for releasing a music album titled ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’ are reported by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy to have been secretly sentenced to two years in prison. The two singers come from a nomadic village called Meuruma. […]

Egypt: Author sentenced to five years in prison for insulting religion

Egyptian author and human rights activist Karam Saber has been sentenced to five years in prison, after a court found his writings to have insulted religion, reported the Egyptian news website Aswat Masriya. The complaint against Karam Saber and his book ‘Ayn Allah’ (‘Where Is God?’) was initially filed in 2011, shortly after the fall […]

New book: ‘Music, Culture and Conflict in Mali’

Freemuse are pleased to announce the publication of our first book, ‘Music, Culture and Conflict in Mali’, which is launched in a digital and on-demand paperback edition on 21 May 2013. “Essential reading for anyone who has been touched by Saharan music. It gives a clear and gripping picture of what it’s like to live […]

Lebanon: Award-winning film banned for being shot in Israel

Lebanese authorities have banned the award-winning film ‘The Attack’ from cinemas in the country because it was partly shot in Tel Aviv using Israeli actors. “I regret to inform you that the Interior Minister of Lebanon, Minister (Marwan) Charbel, has decided to punish us and the film by banning it… claiming that the reason for […]

Algeria: Singer imprisoned for song which mocks police

29-year-old Algerian raï singer Cheb Fayçal appeared in court before the Attorney General in Oran on 2 May 2013 where he was sentenced to six months in prison. He is prosecuted for having performed a song that poked fun at the police and mentions the name of its top official, Abdelghani Hamel. Cheb Faiçal (real […]

Russia: Request for parole from Pussy Riot member rejected in court

A court in the Russian region of Mordovia has denied a request for parole from 23-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, mother of a five-year-old and one of two jailed members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, reported Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty with quotes from Interfax, AFP, and Russia Today Judge Lidiya Yakovleva said in […]

Pakistan: Online music video banned by Telecommunication Authority

“They are helping us by making this video controversial,” Beygairat Brigade’s lead singer Ali Aftab Saeed said to Pakistan’s The Express Tribune, after the band’s online music video ‘Dhinak Dhinak’ was banned by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Beygairat Brigade put out their new song, ‘Dhinak Dhinak’, on Vimeo on 20 April 2013. First Post wrote: “The song, […]

UN report on the right to artistic expression and creation

The 25-page report is now available in all UN languages. “This is the first time such a comprehensive study is carried out. Unfortunately artists all over the world are trapped between political, religious, cultural and economic interests,” said Programme Manager Ole Reitov, who has worked as a consultant to the UN office during the preparation […]

Uzbekistan: Writer released after over 14 years in prison

The award-winning Uzbek writer Mamadali Makhmudov has finally been released after over 14 years in prison, reported PEN International on 23 April 2013. In the late evening of 19 April 2013, Mamadali Makhmudov walked out of prison and met his five grand-children for the first time. His wife told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that her […]

Egypt: Novelist prosecuted for blasphemy

The prominent Egyptian novelist Youssef Zeidan, author of the bestselling book ‘Azazil’, stands trial for blasphemy and contempt of Islam, Christianity and Judaism because of his book ‘The Arabic Theology’. Zeidan appeared in front of the High State Security Prosecutor in mid-February 2013. The official memo which notified the author of the investigation was very stern and […]

Cameroon: Abducted filmmaker found with a finger cut

On 3 April 2013, the young filmmaker Richard Djimeli was found lying in the bush in the Mendong neighbourhood in the capital Yaoundé. One of his fingers had been cut. The kidnapping of Richard Fouofie Djimeli (also called Richard Djiff), a young film maker and multitalented artist, sent shock waves across the Cameroonian public, reported […]

In-depth article collection: ‘All that is banned is desired’

A series of commissioned in-depth articles produced for to provide an overview of violations of artistic freedom of expression in certain countries, and to feature stories as well as interviews with artists, who have been persecuted or experienced that their art works were censored or attacked. All nine articles are gathered in one PDF […]

Download and distribute the conference report

Written by Robin Denselow, a British writer, journalist and broadcaster who reports for The Guardian, BBC tv and radio, this report is a catching, touching and enlightening publication about the current state of freedom of expression among artists around the world. It reflects on the numerous accounts and incidents of censorship, persecution and imprisonment of artists, […]

Harstad in Norway: First ever safe haven city for persecuted musicians

On Thursday 14 February 2013 at the Nordic music industry conference by:Larm in Oslo, the Norwegian Musicians’ Union presented their new project SafeMuse – and the first ever ‘safe haven city’ within the field of music: Harstad. Imagine that the police would come to the door of the artist and musicians after the concert in […]

Norway: Festival for freedom of artistic expression

‘RED ZONE – FREE THE ARTS’ is an international celebration of freedom of expression in art and culture, which will be held in Norway from 28 February to 3 March 2013 The famous Middle Eastern artists Tania Saleh, Rim Banna, Mohamad Abla and Syrian Bear Yumal are headlining the international culture-event ‘Red Zone’ which has […]

Freemuse Award to Festival au Désert in Mali

“The Freemuse Award 2013 is given to ‘Festival au Désert’, which in spite of extreme Islamists’ attempts to silence all music in Mali, defends freedom of musical expression and struggles to continue keeping music alive in the region”, says Marie Korpe, Executive Director, Freemuse. From Bamako, Founder and Festival Director Manny Ansar says: “It is […]

Several musicians brutally killed in Mexico

Several of the musicians from the Mexican group Kombo Kolombia who have been reported missing since 24 January, have been found dead. It is still uncertain how many band members that have been killed.  Kombo Kolombia had been playing a gig in a private bar on Thursday 24 January and alledgedly the muicians were abducted […]

Violations of artistic freedom of expression in 2012

Violations of artistic freedom of expression was monitored and documented by Freemuse on this website as part of the world conference ‘All that is Banned is Desired’. The documentation found the basis for a statistical compilation presenting a glimpse of the situation for artists worldwide in 2012 and includes cases in more than 50 countries […]

International artists support imprisoned Iranian singer

In a letter to the Iranian authorities, world renowned artists join Freemuse in a protest against the imprisonment of their Iranian colleague Arya Aramnejad. The artists’ appeal letter [PDF] Singer Lapiro de Mbanga, who successfully ran a case against Cameroon in The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention because of his wrongful imprisonment, is […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç’s prison sentence turned into speaking ban

On 27 June 2012, Dersim Malatya Third High Criminal Court sentenced singer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison for having promoted İbrahim Kaypakkaya in a speech he held on 1 May 2011. According to new legal rearrangements, the sentence has now been turned into a three year ban on speaking about the same subject. […]

Qatar: Poet Al-Ajami sentenced to life in prison

A Qatari court’s life sentence for the poet Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb Al-Ajami after a grossly unfair trial on 29 November 2012 “flagrantly violates the right to free expression”, Human Rights Watch said on 4 December 2012. AMY GOODMAN, journalist, Democracy Now: “So, if someone read Mohammad’s poem today in Qatar out loud, they too would […]

Conference videos online now

The video material from the first world conference on artistic freedom of expression, ‘All that is banned is desired’, held in Oslo, Norway, in October 2012, is now available online – whole sessions as well as interviews with some of the artists and speakers. So this is the moment when the conference attendees can now […]

iTunes: Apple troubled by women’s bodies

Salwa Al Neimi’s erotic novel ‘The Proof of the Honey’ was removed from the iTunes store because of its cover which features part of a woman’s naked back and bottom, said the publisher, Europa Editions, in a statement on its Facebook page on 9 November 2012. The book has already been banned in some Arab […]

China: Blocked videos and independent films

China’s best-known dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s parodic ‘Gangnam Style’ video was blocked by Chinese authorities within 24 hours after it was uploaded to China’s video sharing site Tuduo on 24 October 2012. The original ‘Gangnam Style’ music video by South Korean artist Psy featuring his infamous horse-riding dance is the Guinness World Record holder for […]

UN: Global study on the right to artistic freedom

The United Nations special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights has sent a questionnaire to all member states asking them to report on legislations and practices related to artistic freedom and censorship. Freemuse’s Programme Manager has been attached as a consultant for the world organization’s upcoming study and report on conditions and right to […]

Russia: No regrets for Pussy Riot despite bad treatment during court case

Index on Censorship had the exclusive opportunity to interview Pussy Riot member Ekatrina Samutsevich who was freed by a Moscow court on 10 October 2012. The interview took place during the same week as Samutsevich’s friends and fellow band mates Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sent to prison camps in remote Russian regions. Samutsevich […]

European Commission: Artists are free to ‘offend, shock or disturb’

The European Union criticised Poland’s supreme court for allowing prosecutors to try Adam Darski, lead singer in the heavy metal band Behemoth, for illegal artistic expression. At issue is the interpretation of Article 196 of the Polish penal code referring to “the crime of offending religious sensibilities.” While on stage in 2007, singer Adam Darski […]

Lebanon: Censored film director initiates legal case against the state

All three of Lebanese director Danielle Arbid’s films have been banned in her native Lebanon. She has initiated a legal case against censorship and the Lebanese state – the first trial of its kind. “This is in motion. If we win, this will help other directors and artists to be more conscious of their rights. […]

Syrian actor killed – allegedly for supporting the president

The well-known Syrian-born Palestinian actor Mohammed Rafia is believed to have been killed by rebels because of his support for President Bashar al-Assad. “His death is a sign of the abyss of personal hatred and violence into which Syria has fallen,” wrote BBC’s reporter Sebastian Usher. An extremist rebel group says it killed him, though […]

The conference is over – but this is only the beginning

More than 40 artists and speakers from all over the world came, spoke, performed, listened and shared experiences with colleagues and an audience from more than 20 countries thus making ‘All that is banned is desired’ the melting pot we had hoped it would become. Around 300 people attended. They came from artists’ organisations, human […]

First global network in support of artistic freedom of expression

On 27 October 2012, 14 international arts and human rights organisations and networks – representing more than 1,200 national organisations globally – met in Oslo and launched a new network, Artsfex, which is the first international civil society network actively concerned with the right of artists to freedom of expression as well as with issues […]

Silencing Music in Turkey – a briefing on the past 12 months

Silencing Music in Turkey 2012: 18-pages PDF document This leaflet with updates on violations of musical expression in Turkey in the past 12 months was published in October 2012 by the Initiative for Freedom of Expression in Istanbul, Turkey, and distributed at the first World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression, ‘All That is Banned […]

Somalia: Poet, playwright and songwriter killed by unknown gunmen

Somali poet, playwright and songwriter Warsame Shire Awale was killed in the country’s capital, Mogadishu, on 29 October 2012 in the evening, reported BBC World. Warsame Shire Awale who was in his 60s worked for the Radio Kulmiye where he wrote and acted in radio plays critical of the militant group, al-Shabab, who he accused […]

Vietnam: Two musicians sentenced to four and six years in prison

A Vietnamese court convicted two renowned musicians to four and six years imprisonment for anti-state propaganda and links to a banned political group, one of their lawyers said on 30 October 2012. Viet Khang, 34, (real name: Vo Minh Tri) was given a four-year prison term while Hoang Nhat Thong, 37, (real name: Tran Vu […]

Israel: Theatre director Zakaria Zubeidi released on bail

Zakaria Zubeidi, theatre director and one of the founders of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, was released on 1 October 2012. He has been detained in a prison in Jericho since 13 May 2012, most of the time without charges. Zubeidi was detained during a wave of raids and arrests in his home city […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member freed, two others to remain in prison

On 10 October 2012, a Moscow appeals court freed one of the jailed Pussy Riot members, 30-year-old Ekaterina Samutsevich, but upheld the two-year prison sentence for the two others who are to serve remainder of their sentences in penal colony. All three women were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for an […]

Russia: Rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ blocked

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ from 1970 has been banned in Russia after a group of locals complained that it might offend religious sentiment, reported AFP, UPI and RIA Novosti on 28 and 29 September 2012. The rock opera was scheduled to open the Rock Opera theatre in Rostov-on-Don on 18 October […]

‘Innocence of Muslims’: A new argument for censorship?

The distribution of an older American video newly dubbed into Arabic, ‘Innocence of Muslims’, has put discussions over freedom of speech and censorship high on the agenda in societies around the world. The film sparked violent protests in mid-September 2012, with a wave of retaliatory attacks on US and other Western embassies around the world. […]

Uganda: Theatre producer face a two-year prison sentence

British theatre producer David Cecil, 34, was granted bail after a couple of days in a prison near the capital Kampala, but his passport was confiscated, and he is due back in court on 18 October. He could face a two-year prison sentence if convicted. David Cecil is charged with “disobedience to lawful orders” from […]

Nepal: Death threats against artist who painted Hindu deities

Manish Harijan, a Nepali artist, whose works are on show at an art gallery in Kathmandu, has received death threats from activists of the Nepal-based World Hindu Federation in reaction to his paintings which combine images of Hindu deities and Western superheroes, reported UNESCO on 14 September 2012. In particular, a painting by Manish Harijan […]

India: Renowned cartoonist arrested and charged with sedition

Aseem Trivedi, a renowned Indian political cartoonist, best known for launching the campaign Cartoons Against Corruption, and founding member of Save Your Voice — a movement against internet censorship in India — was arrested on 9 September 2012 and charged with sedition. Although the Bombay High Court has since granted him bail, Trivedi is

China: Provocative artists intimidated with seizures and imprisonment

Issue 34 of the German magazine Der Spiegel contains a long article about how authorities in China allegedly intimidate provocative artists with tax laws, seizures, and imprisonment as tools to repress dissident voices. The article is primarily based on interviews with two gallery owners and the 30-year-old artist Zhao Zhao who has been Ai Weiwei’s […]

Uganda: Media Council bans performance with homosexual theme

Performances of a play about the struggles of a young, gay Ugandan businessman was halted by Media Council authorities one day before its scheduled opening night at the National Theatre in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. ‘The River and The Mountain’, written by the British playwright Beau Hopkins, portrays a corporate businessman coming to

Zimbabwe: Board of Censors ban a theatre play

On 3 September 2012, Radio COP reported that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have petitioned the High Court seeking to overturn a ban of the theatre play ‘No Voice No Choice’. The play ‘No Voice No Choice’ – a production by two community theatre groups, Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project and Zvido Zvevanhu Arts […]

Israel: Film festival crumbles under the weight of censorship

The international film festival ‘Through Women’s Eyes’ is held every two years and crumbles under the weight of censorship, reported SK Eyes Media on 30 August 2012. “Not only do the censors target this festival, they also view all movies screened during any public gatherings and other festivals in the Gaza Strip, causing great harm […]

Adam Fischer joins the World Conference in Oslo

The acclaimed Hungarian-born conductor Adam Fischer will be speaking at ‘All That is Banned is Desired’ – the World Conference on Artistic Freedom of Expression at the Oslo Opera House on 25-26 October 2012. At the end of 2010, Fischer resigned as Music Director of the Hungarian State Opera in protest against the controversial media […]

Pussy Riot found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison

On 17 August 2012, the three members of the punk collective Pussy Riot received guilty verdicts and were each sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. According to the judge, they had “deeply insulted the faith of believers with their disrespectful criminal act and that the punk protest was blasphemous against the orthodox church.” When the heavy […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haked’s sentence upheld in court of appeal

On 27 July 2012, the Casablanca court of appeal upheld the one year prison sentence given to rapper El Haked in May. The court confirmed that his police-critical song circulating on Youtube together with a ridiculing photo-montage was ‘detrimental to public servants’.  24-year-old rapper Mouad Belghouate, known as El Haked

Russia: Pussy Riot band members to remain in detention until 2013

At a closed hearing on 20 July 2012, the Khomovnichesky District Court extended until 12 January 2013  the detention of three members of the female punk band Pussy Riot who are prosecuted for having performed an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church. The decision prompted immediate condemnation from their lawyers, opposition figures, human rights activists and supporters from all over the world. […]

Lebanon: Youtube-series to tackle the thorny issue of censorship

A new Lebanese web-series, ‘MAMNOU3’, was launched on 1 July 2012. The series is a mockumentary account of what goes down in one of Lebanon’s most infamous administrative departments, the General Security’s censorship bureau. “At first sight it does seem that Lebanon has enjoyed wider freedoms than the rest of the Arab world. In reality, […]

Turkey: Singer Ferhat Tunç sentenced to two years in prison

A court in the eastern province of Malatya sentenced Kurdish singer and composer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison on terrorism related charges due to his invocation during a speech in 2011 where he mentioned names of three deceased Turkish leftists, reported BIA News Center on 27 June 2012. During the May 1st celebrations […]

Russia: Punk group Pussy Riot to remain in prison

On 20 June 2012, a Tagansky district court ruled to keep the three detained band members of Pussy Riot in prison until 24 July 2012 while the police probe continues. Since February 2012, three band members of the all-female punk rock band from Moscow have been in the Butyrskaya prison, while two other members are […]

Tunisia: Artists under attack

Art pieces at the ‘Printemps des Arts’ fair in Tunis have caused public outrage for being ‘blasphemous’ and offensive to Islam. The artists involved have received death threats and their works at the art fair were destroyed. The Minister of Culture condemned the artworks, which in return caused an uproar in the Tunisian arts community. […]

Pakistan: Popular singer gunned down in music market

A young popular female singer, Ghazala Javed, was shot dead on 18 June 2012 along with her father by two unknown armed men The incident happened in the busy Mohallah Nau of Dabgari Garden in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, where the singer was on her way from a beauty parlor […]

Saudi Arabia: Movie theatres are still banned, but the film business is moving on

Although Saudi Arabia has 27 million inhabitants, there is not a single movie theatre in the kingdom. Movie theatres were banned in the 1980’s in order to appease conservative clerics. The following is an introduction to the film business in the country today. First “all-Saudi” film Haifaa Al Mansour has directed one of the first […]

Israel: Theatre director arrested by the Israeli army

At approximately 3:15 in the morning of 6 June 2012, the Israeli army entered the home of Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, and arrested him. The soldiers refused to tell Al-Raee’s wife where they’d be taking him and why.   Jonathan Stanczak, who will be on stage at the World Conference on Artistic […]

Awarded Iranian film director speaks about censorship and restriction

In a video interview with Euronews in Cannes, film director Asghar Farhadi talks about the current restraints on Iranian film-makers. In February 2012, Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi’s film ‘Separation’ won two Oscar nominations and took the award for Best Foreign Language film, the first Iranian movie to win the honour. And in Cannes in […]

Belarus Free Theatre: Strong criticism of repression in Belarus

“Everything has changed for the worse,” said Natalia Kaliada, exiled co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian about the escalating brutality in her homeland. “New arrests are taking place. New people are going to jail for long-term sentences. Even rock concerts are banned in Belarus. Nothing has […]

South Africa: Controversy over painting depicting president’s genitals

South African President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress sought a court order to have a painting depicting the president’s genitals removed from an art gallery but two men took matters into their own hands by defacing the portrait with gobs of paint. The different reactions to a painting of President Jacob Zuma with […]

Turkey: Prime Minister will not tolerate criticism from state funded theatres

The Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens to withdraw state support from the country’s 22 city theatres after his daughter said she was insulted by an actor during a play. What some are calling “Turkey’s culture war” began in April 2011 when the prime minister’s youngest daughter, Sümeyye Erdogan, 30, walked out of a […]

Ai Weiwei: Chinese censorship of the internet will fail

In April 2012 Ai Weiwei turned his attention to China’s censorship of the internet, in a comment piece penned for The Guardian where concluded that the Chinese government will ultimately fail to control the internet as the web is “uncontrollable”. Ai Weiwei writes: “China may seem quite successful in its controls, but it has only […]

Mali: Islamists have banned music in northern region

In Kidal, heartland of the Islamist Ansar Dine group, music has been replaced by prayer readings on the local radio. The group wants to impose strict sharia law across Mali.   In three short days in the beginning of April 2012, a mix of rebel forces seized the three main regional centres of a territory […]

Mexico: Musicians are kidnapped and tortured

On 8 April 2012, Julio Cesar Leyva Beltran, a singer with the Mexican band Los Ciclones del Arroyo, was kidnapped and tortured after refusing to perform a song requested by a group of people at a party, police said according to several news media. 41-year-old Julio Cesar Leyva Beltran was abducted from a party in […]

Azerbaijan: About censorship, fear and Eurovision

In May 2012, artists from all over Europe will gather in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, for the world’s biggest non-sport television event, the Eurovision Song Contest. The authoritarian regime that rules the country sees its chance to paint a picture of Azerbaijan as a modern and prosperous country. But native musicians have very limited […]

Azerbaijan: Two musicians detained

Two musicians and the leader of a youth organisation were detained after protests in the capital Baku on 17 March 2012. They are currently being held in Sabael District Police Office, and there is concern that they have been subjected to torture. “Fresh doubts have been raised about the suitability of Azerbaijan to host May’s Eurovision […]

Study on censorship in Lebanon: law and practice

This study aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of censorship in Lebanon. The publishers hope “it will allow the many local artistic and cultural actors the opportunity to lobby for the most appropriate legislative amendments to the current censorship regulations which are currently not conducive to their work.” The study provides an extended definition of […]



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