News in brief

Estonia: Museum cracks under religious pressure, alters Virgin Mary exhibit

The newly opened National Museum of Estonia in the city of Tartu caved under pressure from religious groups, politicians and the public and altered an art exhibit featuring the Virgin Mary, reported news media non-profit Transitions Online on 17 October 2016. The exhibit featured a virtual image of the Virgin Mary projected onto glass panels […]

Azerbaijan: Prosecuted writer faces further charges

The case against Azerbaijani writer Akram Aylisli, who previously faced charges of ‘hooliganism’ after being detained at Baku Haydar Aliyev International Airport on 30 March 2016, has expanded to include charges of ‘resisting the authorities with violence’. Under Article 315.1 of the criminal code, this is punishable by up to three years in prison. The […]

Five more countries ban ‘The Danish Girl’

As of 1 February 2016, five more countries have followed suit with Qatar and banned screenings of Tom Hooper’s transgender film ‘The Danish Girl’. Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and United Arab Emirates failed to pass local censor requirements over “moral depravity” and that it “promoted homosexuality and gender transformation”. Sources » Gay Star News – 1 February […]

France: Lobby group gets Danish movie banned

In surely one of the most delayed instances of outrage in cinema history, a French administrative appeals court has temporarily banned Lars von Trier’s 2009 horror film ‘Antichrist’ over its sexual and violent content after pressure from the Catholic group Promouvoir, reported The Guardian, RFI, AFP and other news media. The decision was made on […]

India: Controversy over State Censor Board for Theatre

Theatre playwrights and performers in Gujarat and Maharashtra are questioning and condemning the State Censor Board for Theatre for having suggested 19 cuts in a Marathi play entitled ‘Jai Bhim, Jai Bharat’. The board which certifies theatre scripts as fit for public consumption asked playwright Jandardan Jadhav to change ‘Khairlanji’ to ‘Vairanjli’, ‘kutra’ (dog) to […]

Indonesia: Censorship board considers banning Netflix

The Indonesia Film Censorship Board (LSF) held an emergency meeting regarding Netflix’s recent global expansion and may ban the service from the country. “Last Saturday we watched the movies [available on Netflix]… there are some movies that we have forbid from being screened in the cinemas,” Ahmad Yani Basuki, the chairman of the LSF, said […]

Russia: Theatre director says culture ministry vets new plays

A prominent Russian director has said theatres are required to approve new plays with the culture ministry, raising concerns of a return to censorship in a more conservative cultural climate. Valery Fokin, the award-winning artistic director of St Petersburg’s Alexandrinsky theatre, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station classic plays were not subject to oversight, but […]

India: Censor board’s ‘truly epic cuts’ to American movie

After months of delay, Quentin Tarantino’s movie ‘The Hateful Eight’ is out in India, “but like the bloody and violent nature of the movie, it has been slashed and chopped by our Censor Board,” wrote Hindustan Times. A list of all the 10 cuts made to the film has found its way online. Here it […]

Denmark: Lego changes bulk buy policy after Ai Weiwei backlash

Lego has said it is reversing its policy on bulk purchases and will no longer ask customers what they want to use the bricks for. The U-turn follows a recent controversy involving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. This was reported by BBC News In October 2015, Ai Weiwei accused Lego of censorship when it refused to […]

Uzbekistan: Musicians regulated to conform to ‘national values’

Uzbekistan’s government has ordered the state agency in charge of giving licenses to performers to tighten conditions under which they are granted, citing a plethora of pop songs, videos and concerts that fail to conform to the “country’s spiritual, cultural and national values”, according to Transition Online and BBC News citing the local media Gazeta. […]

Iran: Two writers arrested

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry forces allegedly arrested two Iranian writers, Rouzbeh Gilasian and Elaheh Soroushnia, on 14 December 2015. The two writers were arrested in Gorgan in northern Iran and transferred to an unknown location, according to the organisation Journalism Is Not A Crime, citing Human Rights Activists News Agency, HRANA. The reason for the arrests and […]

Indonesia: Activists raise concern about limits on artsfreedom

Cultural and human rights activists have expressed outrage and concern after police placed a ban on an arts event scheduled to take place at Jakarta’s Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural centre on 15 December 2015. According to the Jakarta Post, the police cited “practical reasons of security” as their reason, rather than any question of political censorship. Jakarta […]

Morocco: Prosecuted rapper cleared of all charges

The Moroccan rapper Al Muntaqim was arrested in August 2015 accused of inciting violence and drug abuse through his song ‘Korsika’. On 9 December 2015 the court cleared him of all charges. In August 2015, the Public Prosecution at the Court of First Instance in Khenifra city in Morocco instructed the judicial police to immediately […]

Iran: Music distributors await appeal decision for six years in prison

Two musicians and a filmmaker who were jointly sentenced to six years in prison and fined 200 million toman (about  USD 66,650) each for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state,” are awaiting a ruling by a Tehran appeals court, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Mehdi Rajabian, a musician […]

Algeria: Attack on famous raï singer’s concert thwarted

According to Morocco World News, Alarabiya and other media, Algerian authorities are searching for three terrorists who attempted to target Annaba Theatre, a theatre in the north-eastern city of Annaba, where raï singer Cheb Khaled was performing on 9 December 2015. A separate report by Russia Today cited Algerian media sources as saying that the Algerian army […]

Spain: Censorship controversy affects international art committee

Censorship row sees three Spanish music directors resign and a petition protesting decisions of the board of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art In March 2015, Bartomeu Marí resigned as the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (Macba) after a censorship row over a controversial installation on display […]

Russia: Political performance artist arrested

Pyotr Pavlensky, a 32-year-old performance artist from Saint Petersburg, was arrested in Moscow on 9 November 2015 after dousing the doors of the FSB, the Russian security agency, with gasoline and setting it ablaze as part of a political art performance he titled ‘Menace’. Later the same day, a Moscow court sentenced Pyotr Pavlensky to a […]

Poland: Culture minister wants to ban Nobel winner’s play

Poland’s new culture minister, Piotr Gliński, wants to ban a production by one of the country’s leading theatre companies of a play by the Nobel prize-winning author Elfriede Jelinek, claiming public money must not be used to subsidise “pornography”. The move by Gliński, who is also deputy prime minister in the new conservative Law & […]

India: Police remove floating cow art and detain artists

In India two artists were detained for their work on 21 November 2015: a life-size styrofoam art installation of a flying cow in Rajasthan’s Jaipur city. Following protests by right-wing Hindu groups alleging their religious sentiments were hurt, local police dismantled the work and detained the two artists. Later, amid public outrage, the chief minister […]

China: Authorities ban art exhibition on violence against women

Beijing authorities banned an art exhibition about feminism and domestic violence just before it was set to open, organisers said on 26 November 2015. The exhibition, timed for the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, was due to open on 25 November 2015 at Beijing’s Gingko Space art gallery. More […]

Singapore: Arts council to withdraw funding of ‘offensive arts’, says chairman

The chairman of the National Arts Council in Singapore weighed in on an ongoing debate in the country over whether state funding for the arts should be used to enforce censorship. In her speech at the opening of the Singapore International Film Festival on 26 November 2015, Professor Chan Heng Chee brought up a 1998 […]

India: Pakistani singer’s concerts cancelled after protests

Two concerts by the veteran Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali scheduled in the Indian state of Maharashtra were cancelled by the organisers after a regional Hindu right-wing party took exception to the events. The Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist party that is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra State, asked the organisers to cancel the […]

China: Malaysian rapper told to make no controversial statements

The Malaysian rapper Namewee (real name: Wee Meng Chee) has become the latest to join a growing number of artists and brands facing limitations on their performance in China. Namewee posted a statement on Facebook on 19 October 2015 that he had been forced by his Hong Kong concert promoter to declare that he wouldn’t […]

Pakistan: Increased censorship of Pakistani films

‘Abdullah’ is the latest film flagged by Pakistan’s censor board, which has become more active of late, reported Sheharyar Rizwan for Until recently, film censorship in Pakistan was mostly limited to Bollywood and Hollywood productions, one reason being there weren’t that many films being produced within Pakistan. But now, with a sudden uptick in […]

United Kingdom: Play cancellation sparks censorship row

An independent girls’ school in Ipswich has ignited a censorship row after it pulled a Rebecca Lenkiewicz play scheduled for 13 October 2015 due to “grave reservations” over its portrayal of child sex abuse. Censorship campaigners claim the move is part of worrying trend among schools and other education bodies to cancel productions that deal […]

Russia: Exhibition in St. Petersburg censored and closed

A Belgian and a German artist have had an exhibition of their graphic novel shuttered in St. Petersburg’s Nabokov Museum, according to The Moscow Times. The artists, Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer, were displaying their work as part of an international comic, graphic novel and illustration festival called Boomfest, which has been held annually in […]

Thailand: Movie banned on religious grounds

The Thai government has banned the release of ‘Arbat’ – a locally-made horror movie that was set to be released in October 2015. The Ministry of Culture said that its Film and Media Screening Committee banned the film because it was disrespectful to monks and novices. The film, directed by Kanittha Kwunyoo, tells the story of […]

Lebanon: Documentary film with Sahrawi artists banned

The film ‘Life Is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara’ has been banned in Lebanon. All screenings at Beirut Film Fest have been cancelled. ‘Life Is Waiting’ is a new film by director Iara Lee, who asked Sahrawi activists and artists to give answers to questions such as: ‘What will it take for the […]

China: Artist on censorship and finding freedom in the provinces

Provincial cities like Wuhan might provide more freedom from official intervention, reported Lise Movius in The Art Newspaper on 23 September 2015 in connection with her interview with Zhang Dali – an artist who is known for his controversial graffiti, paintings and sculptures and who is now due to have his first retrospective in Wuhan. […]

Burkina Faso: Music studio in capital bombed after coup

Studio Abazon in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, was attacked in the early hours of 17 September 2015, allegedly targeted by coup soldiers because of the activism of its owner, rapper Smockey. The studio is owned and run by top Burkinabe rapper and revolutionary artist, Serges Martin Bambara – also known as Smockey (or […]

New Zealand: Teenage novel banned after outcry from religious group

An award-winning young adult novel has become the first book in more than 20 years to be banned in New Zealand after an outcry from a Christian group. UPDATE – INSERTED ON 14 OCTOBER 2015 ‘Into the River’ can now be bought, borrowed and displayed in New Zealand after a decision by the Film and […]

Pakistan: Court dismisses petition to ban Indian films

A Pakistani court today dismissed a petition seeking a permanent ban on release of Indian films in the country, days after the same court banned the screening of the Bollywood movie ‘Phantom’ on a petition by Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Read more: » Artsfreedom – 25 August 2015: Pakistan: Various Bollywood films […]

Turkey: Actor dismissed from theatre over criticism of government

Actor Levent Üzümcü has been dismissed from the İstanbul City Theatre after he was recently referred to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s disciplinary board over a series of statements and speeches he made criticising the government. Üzümcü announced the disciplinary board’s decision to fire him on his Twitter account, writing: “I am very thankful that, as […]

Russia: Music portal banned

The Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has banned online music portal for offering the song ‘Kill a cop’ (‘Ubey menta’) by the Russian alternative rock band Psychea, according to the Calvert Journal. The chorus of the song reads: “Beat me, trample me, cut me to pieces — I’ve gone completely insane. The situation is getting […]

Bangladesh: Three poets get death threats

According to The New Indian Express, Bangladesh police are investigating apparent death threats against six secular writers, days after the murder of a fourth blogger in six months. The six, who include three poets, bloggers and a journalist, all live in the southern city of Barisal and went to police after their photographs appeared on […]

Turkey: Festival director steps down after censorship scandal

Azize Tan has stepped down after nine years following protests over censorship at the latest edition in April, which led to the cancellation of the festival’s competitions and closing ceremony. » Sourced through from: » – 16 April 2015: Turkey: Film festival censorship controversy and cancellations

Cuba: Dissident artist released after eight months of detention

Performance artist Tania Bruguera, who had her passport confiscated in Cuba after trying to stage a performance about freedom of expression in a public plaza in Havana, is back in the United States, according to a statement issued by #YoTambienExijo, the art and activism program run by Bruguera and her sister Deborah. Her return caps […]

Pakistan: Various Bollywood films banned

A number of Hindi films have been prohibited from releasing in Pakistan for diverse reasons over the past few years, according to an article in Hindustan Times. • Most recently, the Lahore High Court on 20 August 2015 temporarily banned the screening of the upcoming Indian film ‘Phantom’ in Pakistan – and directed the federal […]

Iran: 14 films banned since 2007

Films continue to be banned in Iran. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has compiled a list of 14 films banned since 2007 in Iran. Other films may also have faced censorship issues but their makers have chosen to remain quiet, hoping to eventually get a screening permit. “Rouhani’s remarks during his election […]

Spain: Row over canceling of Jewish US musician’s festival performance

The Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu was initially cancelled by the organisers from performing at the Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Benicássim in Spain on 22 August 2015 after he refused to make a statement outlining his position on Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Due to the growing controversy over the ruling and complaints from Israel […]

India: Actor calls for consitutional freedom of expression rights in cinemas

“I feel there should be constitutional right of freedom of expression. Either you give cinema artistes complete freedom of expressing themselves or you don’t have them in the society because in cinema, people can’t be open for attack all the time,” Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee told IANS. According to the acclaimed actor Manoj Bajpayee, the […]

China: 120 songs banned for promoting obscenity and violence

On 10 August 2015, China released a blacklist of songs claiming they promote obscenity or violence and ordered website administrators to remove them from their sites, according to Xinhua News Agency. The order from the Ministry of Culture accompanied a list of 120 songs that trumpeted “obscenity, violence, crime or harmed social morality”. The list […]

Philippines: Film festival invites Asian filmmakers facing censorship

The Philippines’ leading independent film festival is adding a section showcasing Asian films, offering a venue for filmmakers facing censorship in other parts of Asia, reported New York Times. » Festival site: » Sourced through from:

South Africa: Freedom of expression workshops and awards

Freedom of expression workshops and awards at the Durban International Film Festival 2015, ‘Screen Africa’. Freedom of expression and related issues were a core feature of Arterial Network’s three-fold presence at the 36th edition of the Durban International Film Festival, as part of its Artwatch Africa artist rights programme. A closed three-day workshop aimed at […]

Pakistan: Gallery ‘cutting the cord of censorship’

“Despite living in a country where enforced censorship and lack of tolerance is rife, Zarmeene Shah, curator of ‘Parrhesia II’ at Koel Gallery, feels the heart of this concept lies in the risk taken by any artist attempting to speak the truth.” Shanzay Subzwari’s art review: ‘Cutting the cord of censorship’, 19 July 2015 » Read […]

China: US pop group banned because of a tweet

The US pop group Maroon 5 have felt the wrath of China’s stringent government policies, getting banned from entering the country allegedly after posting a tweet showing support for the Dalai Lama. The group’s Beijing and Shanghai concerts scheduled for September 2015 as a part of their larger Asian tour were cancelled with no official […]

Iran/Lebanon/Ukraine: Artists affected by conflicts

When conflicts unfold between and within countries, artists’ rights to artistic freedom of expression are often violated. Recently, artists have been affected by the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, and between Israel and Lebanon as well as Iran. Singer banned in Iran after performance in Israel The Iranian-born British Muslim singer Sami Yusuf, whose […]

USA: Literary censorship debate over two books

Two elementary books, set in Afghanistan and Iraq, are creating a social media stir in Jacksonville in Florida, USA, and have re-energised the age-old debate on literary censorship, reported A book about an Iraqi librarian and another about an Afghanistan child whose parents are kidnapped both portray U.S. and other soldiers in a scary […]

Egypt: One year imprisonment for music video

The Agouza Misdemeanour Court sentenced Sunday the dancer Salma Al-Foly, the director Wael El-Sedik and an assistant to one year in prison for a low-cost production homemade video which they posted on El-Sedik’s private YouTube channel on 18 May 2015. The video has since been viewed over 1.5 million times. Singer and dancer Salma Al-Foly […]

Morocco: Director and actress summoned to court

French-Moroccan director of the new film ‘Much Loved’ (‘Zine Li Fik’), Nabil Ayouch, and Moroccan leading actress Loubna Abidar have been summoned to court in their native country for a hearing on 15 July 2015, Moroccan World News reported. Loubna Abidar plays a prostitute in the film, which follows the daily lives of four street workers in Marrakech. […]

Canada: Row over ‘institutional censorship’ of arts instructor

Capilano University’s leadership is being called to apologise for censoring a former studio arts instructor – or risk becoming a pariah institution among academics, a report concluded. Studio arts instructor George Rammell created ‘Blathering on in Krisendom’, a caricature of university president Kris Bulcroft and her poodle Margaux, and displayed it on campus as an act […]

Ecuador: Dance performance cancelled under pressure from Chinese embassy

On 22 May 2015, Falun Dafa – an organisation responsible for bringing the dance show “The Monkey King” by the Shen Yun Performing Arts Company to Ecuador, reported it had been the victim of censorship, following the decision of the Ecuadorian House of Culture to suspend activities at the National Theatre, affecting performances of the show […]

USA: Anti-censorship theatre even censored

A benefit event for the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) scheduled for 14 June 2015 at The Sheen Center in New York City, was abruptly called off after the theatre hosting the show deemed some of the content offensive. The event has since been rescheduled. The show was cancelled by Sheen Management, which sought to […]

Malaysia: Film banned for glorifying communism

An edited version of a controversial 2013 film ‘The New Village’ will remain banned in Malaysia as it “still appears to glorify communism”, the Malaysian Home Ministry said. Set against the backdrop of 1950s British rule in Malaya, The New Village depicts a love story between a village girl and a young communist guerrilla.It also […]

USA: Fox News station censors Picasso masterpiece

A Picasso painting which broke the record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction was censored on Fox News. The 1955 painting titled ‘The Women of Algiers (Version O)’ sold for $179 million at Christie’s in New York. Fox5NY which covers New York City took the decision to blur out the nipples on […]

Iran: Radical website calls for murder of musician

On 1 May 2015, the ultra-conservative Iranian website Aba Shohada website announced a reward of approximately $155,000 for anyone who would blow up the concert venues of German-based Iranian musician Shahin Najafi. According to the US based organisation International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the threat is being addressed by the German police and […]

Cambodia: After two years with censors, controversial film to be released

Cambodian filmmaker Chhay Bora’s controversial drama 3.50 is finally set to be released two years after being submitted to the government’s film censors for review. Produced by Bora and written by Justin Deimen, 3.50 is the fictional story of a US documentary filmmaker who submerges herself into the Phnom Penh human trafficking industry to save a young […]

Turkey: Izmir Opera cancellation of ‘Carmina Burana’ sparks censorship concerns

Censorship allegations concerning Turkey’s state-run art institutions have taken a new turn with the İzmir State Opera and Ballet’s removal of “Carmina Burana” from its repertoire at the last minute, two days before the world-famous cantata was set to be performed at the Ahmed Adnan Saygun Arts Center in an evening performance on Saturday 2 […]

Russia: Graphic novel about Holocaust banned for its cover

The American radio broadcaster NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with author and illustrator Art Spiegelman about how his book ‘Maus’, the very antithesis of Nazi propaganda, was purged from Moscow stores because of a swastika on the cover. » Sourced through from:

France: Verdict of three years imprisonment to rapper in Marseilles

The court in Marseilles summoned the French-Algerian rapper Lacrim (real name: Karim Zenoud), but he didn’t show up in court. He was consequently given status as a fugitive and sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment. Lacrim was charged in court because of the video for his song ‘Viens, je t’emmène’, in which he uses […]

United Kingdom: Horror film featuring neo-Nazis terrorising Jewish family banned

A British film censorship board has banned a U.S. horror movie that contains scenes of neo-Nazis terrorising a Jewish family. The movie, ‘Hate Crime’, depicts anti-Semitic thugs breaking into the family’s home and mutilating and sexually abusing family members, according to the Chronicle. The British Board of Film Classification ruled that a substantial part of […]

A brush too far? Six art pieces that stirred controversy in Africa

“A selection of bold, daring and provocative art makes up this list of six art pieces from around the continent. In one way or another, they challenged the communities they appeared in. Sometimes the artwork offended people’s political sensibilities, sometimes it challenged people’s sense of African social norms and customs. All this boundary-pushing art has […]

Pakistan: DJs and singers silenced with new loudspeaker regulation

In the Punjab province in Pakistan, DJs, singers and show organisers are threatening to launch province-wide protest if Police continues to register cases against them while seizing their music equipment and loudspeaker systems because of a new legislation, the ‘Punjab Sound System Regulation Ordinance 2015’. The Punjab Government enforced the ‘Punjab Sound System Regulation Ordinance […]

USA: Country stations ban song for promoting gay agenda

The country song ‘Girl Crush’ by Little Big Town has been banned by some American country stations after listeners complained it ‘promotes the gay agenda’. This despite the fact that the song is about wanting back an ex, and just includes lyrics detailing the attractiveness of his new girlfriend. The group has now filmed a […]

France: Prime minister intervenes to stop ban of posters for musical trio

The French Prime Minister stepped in to have a ban lifted on an advert for a musical trio called ‘The Priests’. The country’s tram and Metro network RATP came under fire for pushing France’s beloved secularity too far when it banned posters advertising a concert with Les Pretres in June 2015. Les Pretres (‘The Priests’) […]

Canada: Controversy over concert cancellation sparks public debate

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has decided to cancel performances by the Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa over what it calls her “deeply offensive language” and “inciting hatred” on Twitter because of her comments on the conflict in Ukraine. This has created an intense public debate in the country’s media and social media about artsfreedom and self-censorship. […]

India: ‘Un-Freedom’ movie banned by censorship board

Florida-based director Raj Amit Kumar’s debut film ‘Un-Freedom’, starring Adil Hussain and Victor Banerjee in key roles espousing homosexuality, has been banned in India. The filmmaker said such move by Central Board of Film Certification is like taking away the “basic human rights”. He has reportedly decided to approach the court and to file a […]

Russia: Culture Ministry to probe ‘blasphemous’ Novosibirsk opera

Russia’s Culture Ministry has announced plans to launch a probe into a beleaguered Novosibirsk production of Richard Wagner’s opera ‘Tannhäuser’, which has provoked the ire of certain powerful members of the Russian Orthodox Christian community. Director Timofei Kulyabin’s rendition of the opera has been performed at the theatre since December 2014. But then an administrative […]

France: Controversial comedian sentenced for Facebook post

A French court has handed out a two-month suspended prison sentence to prominent comedian and political activist Dieudonne M’bala M’bala. He was found guilty for a Facebook message that suggested sympathy with one of the gunmen in the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. The 49-year-old comedian was convicted for being “an apologist for terrorism” […]

Saudi Arabia: ‘Art is Halal’ poster campaign sparks lively debate

In Saudi Arabia, social media users have engaged in rare criticism of rulers over their arts policy in light of campaign by three female artists. The aim of the campaign, the artists say, is to provoke a public debate about the limits of freedom of expression in art. A trio of three young students and […]

Iran: Film about singer who outwitted ban on women singing solo

Nothing like it had been attempted in Iran for 35 years. The Iranian singer and composer Sara Najafi proposed hosting a concert in Tehran – “a festival of the female voice” featuring solo singers. “Since the 1979 revolution, women in Iran have been banned from singing solo. So what happened when this woman decided to […]

Canada: Viet Cong banned from playing because of their name

The Canadian art rockers Viet Kong have had a show in Ohio cancelled because their name ‘deeply offends’ some people. Gig promoter Ivan Krasnov took to the Oberlin ‘Sco Facebook page to apologise for booking an act whose name “deeply offends and hurts Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American communities, both in Oberlin and beyond”. He extended his […]

United Kingdom: Public debate warns of self-censorship in the arts

Artistic institutions in Britain are increasingly self-censoring subversive material to secure funding and avoid protests, according to a panel of arts grandees. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, Munira Mirza, deputy mayor for education and culture, and Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty were among those who called the rise of […]

France: Court sets precedent in Facebook vagina artwork censorship battle

A Paris court has announced that it can preside over a French citizen’s legal case against Facebook in a battle against the censorship of a vagina painting, despite the social network’s terms and conditions stating it can only be tried in the US. The case was sparked in 2011 by the deletion of teacher and […]

Syria: Video artists receive threats for ridiculing ISIS

Their films have brought hate mail and threats via social media. Young refugees risk their lives by mocking Islamic State in series of films, as satirising the extremists grows in popularity across the Middle East, reported The Guardian on 12 March 2015. “One of them said that they would finish us off like they finished […]

Russia: Creators of ‘offensive’ Wagner opera acquitted

Two men who went on trial in Russia on 4 March 2015 over their staging of Richard Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser’ opera, which a senior Orthodox cleric complained was offensive to religious believers, were acquitted in court on 10 March 2015. Prosecutors said the modern-day staging, which fuelled anger among Orthodox Russians after it premiered in the […]

Thailand: Imprisonment of student actors stirs criticism

Two theatre actors were sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 24 february 2015 for staging a play in 2013 that was deemed defamatory to the monarchy. Patiwat Saraiyaem, 24, a fourth year student at Khon Kaen University, and Pornthip Munkong, 27, former coordinator of Prakai Fai Theatre Troupe, were found guilty […]

Malaysia: ‘Fifty Shades’ books banned

The Home Ministry in Malaysia has banned the popular “Fifty Shades of Grey” erotica trilogy, citing reasons of morality, after previously prohibiting the screening of the movie adaptation locally. The order under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 dated 24 February 2015 banned the printing, publication and even ownership of the romance novels by […]

Ukraine: Three Russian films banned

Ukraine’s state cinema agency has banned three Russian films from being screened in the country, including the popular ‘Brother 2’, which was filmed 15 years ago. » Source:

Thailand: Actors prosecuted for political play

On 23 February 2015, two members of a now-defunct theatre group Prakai Fai (‘Sparking Fire’) have been sentenced to two and half years in prison under the draconian Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code. Pornthip Mankong aka Golf, 26, and Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, performed in a political play called Jao Sao Maa Paa (‘Wolf’s bride’). […]

Iran: Banned director wins Berlin film festival’s Golden Bear

A film by dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi has won the Golden Bear, the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize. Jafar Panahi won the award for his Tehran road movie ‘Taxi’ in what critics described as a victory for freedom of speech and the art of cinematic storytelling. Jafar Panahi was unable to be in Berlin […]

Six countries ban ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ film

Countries that often object to sexual content – Malaysia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and India – have banned ‘Fifty Shades’ from cinema theatres. Authorities in Russia’s North Caucasus have also banned the film. In Malaysia, the head of the film censorship board called it “more pornography than a movie”, according to Hollywood trade publication Variety. The […]

India: Rift in censor board over list of ‘banned words’

In India, the Central Board of Film Certification witnessed a “minor internal rift” after a board member publicly criticised the statutory body for releasing a list of words and references that it wanted banned from films. Objecting to the list of words ‘not to be used in film’ issued by board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, board […]

Malaysia: Cartoonist’s office raided and books seized by authorities

The office of cartoonist Zunar (real name: Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque) was raided on 28 January 2015 while he was on a speaking tour in London. More than 150 of his books were confiscated in a raid conducted under Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act and the Penal Code.  Before this, more than 500 […]

Vietnam: Shifting tensions in Vietnamese contemporary art

An article by Art Radar highlights how Vietnam’s blossoming contemporary art scene is held in check through a complex set of bureaucratic hurdles coupled with hit-and-miss government censorship and lack of critical infrastructure funding, at a time when it should be enriching, not sabotaging this shining asset. Licenses are needed to display any type of […]

Iraq: UNESCO alarmed over mass destruction of books in Mosul

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova expresses alarm over reports of the massive destruction of books in the museums, libraries and universities of Mosul in Iraq. According to numerous media reports, thousands of books on philosophy, law, science and poetry have been deliberately burned over the past several weeks. If confirmed, this would be one of the […]

Iran: Prominent musician banned from traveling abroad

The Iranian musician and composer Majid Derakhshani says authorities are preventing him from traveling abroad. Majid Derakhshani told the Iranian daily Etemad on 5 January 2015 that security officials confiscated his passport at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport over the weekend while he was on his way to Dubai. Derakhshani quoted the officials as saying he […]

Cuba: Rapper ‘El Critico’ released from prison

After nearly two years in prison, Cuban rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, best known as ‘El Critico’ from the underground hip-hop duo The Unwanted Children, has been released, along with several other political prisoners across the island. Remon was sent to prison in March 2013 after a violent, allegedly government-organised, mob attacked his home in […]

France: French mayor bans Oscar nominated film from Mali

Jacques-Alain Bénisti, mayor of a Paris suburb, has tried to derail the screening of Abderrahmane Sissako’s ‘Timbuktu’, despite never having seen the film. The mayor feared “that the movie makes an apology for terrorism,” reported Le Figaro. According to Le Monde, Bénisti thought that young people would see the jihadists in the film as role […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist arrested over insulting leaders

Danilo Maldonado, a graffiti artist better known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), was arrested again on 26 December 2014 while driving two pigs to a Havana park, prior to one of his scheduled visual art performances, reported Capitol Hill Cubans. He is facing three years in prison. The performance allegedly entailed releasing the two pigs […]

United Kingdom: Syrian artist denied UK visa will miss his own exhibition

One of Syria’s most prominent artists has been denied a visa to travel to the UK for the opening of his own exhibition in London. Thaier Helal, widely known in Syria for his neo-expressionist works, was denied entry to Britain by the Home Office. He was due to appear at an exhibition of his works […]

Japan: Exhibition of Unfreedom of Expression

“Is Japan a nation of free speech? How much freedom of expression do people enjoy in this country?” asks Reiji Yoshida and Kazuaki Nagata in an article in The Japan Times about an ‘Exhibition of Unfreedom of Expression’ which is on display in a small gallery in Tokyo until 1 February 2015. The exhibition showcases […]

Syria: Musicians punished for playing ‘un-Islamic’ instruments

In Bujaq, a few miles to the east of Aleppo in Syria, the ISIS religious police is reported to have beaten up four young men for playing music using socalled ‘un-Islamic’ instruments such as a keyboard and lute, reported Daily Mail. Images posted on a popular file sharing site showed ISIS policemen hitting the young […]

Russia: Ban on films that ‘denigrate Russia’s culture’

Russia’s culture ministry has prepared new requirements for issuing exhibition licenses under which movies that “threaten national unity of the country or denigrate its culture” will be banned. The new date for enacting the requirements hasn’t been announced yet. Similarly, it is not clear who will be making decisions regarding films’ compliance with the requirements […]

India: Writer faces death threats and book burning

Condemning the death threat to writer Perumal Murugan and burning of his book ‘Maadhorubhagan,’ members of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists’ Association staged demonstration saying the threat by caste and religious outfits and the burning of Murugan’s book ‘Madhorubhagan’ were nothing but an attempt to crush freedom of expression. » Sourced through from:

USA: 60 artistic directors protest firing of theatre director

According to reports in the Washington Post, the artistic director of Theater J, Ari Roth, was fired with the stated cause being “insubordination.” 60 national theater companies protested the firing in an open letter with playwright Tony Kushner writing that Roth “was fired because he refused to surrender to censorship.” In building Theater J’s reputation […]

Morocco/UAE/Egypt: Film ‘Exodus’ banned for “historical inaccuracies”

The Ridley Scott film ‘Exodus’ has been banned in countries across the Middle East. The film, which has been criticised widely for its ‘whitewashing’, has now been pulled in Morocco, Egypt and the UAE. However, the reasons being given for the film’s ban all seem to be different. For instance, in Egypt the Cultural Minister […]

USA/North Korea: Americans flocking to see ‘The Interview’

Sony initially called off the release of the film, citing threats of terror attacks against US cinemas. The American president Barack Obama criticised the decision, and by the end of December 2014, the movie then premiered in a number of US cinemas. “Freedom prevails”, wrote a cinema on its billboard. MORE: Sony to sell #TheInterview […]

Ukraine: Ban on films featuring Russian actor who supports separatists

Ukraine has banned films and tv-series featuring Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, who recently visited the Donbass region controlled by separatists. Ukraine’s expert commission on film exhibition has ruled that exhibition licenses for over 70 films starring Okhlobystin should be revoked, announced Yuri Artemenko, head of the National Council for Television and Radio, on his Facebook […]

Japan: Artist imprisoned over ‘obscene’ kayak design

When Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi began to make plaster casts of her genitalia and show them in exhibitions, she accepted some people might be upset. But she could not have imagined she would end up in prison. Megumi Igarashi has spent 10 days in a Tokyo women’s prison. Her crime, the police say, was sending […]

Turkey: Many artists bow to censorship orders, says theatre director

According to the veteran Turkish stage actor and director Genco Erkal many artists in Turkey are bowing to censorship orders from municipal or state officials “because they want to be able to draw on opportunities offered by municipalities.” “Many fellow [actors] comply with terms imposed by municipalities just so they can receive funds,” Genco Erkal […]

Lebanon: Bans film on Iran protest movement

Lebanese authorities stop the screening of ‘The Silent Majority Speaks’, which depicts the 2009 post-election Green Movement protests in Iran, organisers of a local film festival said on 16 November 2014. Lebanon’s Censorship Committee is part of the General Security agency and monitors all films before screening in the country. General Security is regarded as […]

South Africa: Artist threatened for public space art project

The South African artist Michael Elion has been threatened by users on social media for his giant public space art project ‘Madiba glasses’. The heated debate surrounding his sunglasses installation Perceiving Freedom, his tribute to Nelson Mandela, eliciting violent responses from some of the users online. It all came to a head when he discovered […]

Russia: Moscow fringe theatre faces ‘censorship’ with eviction

Founded in the early years of Vladimir Putin’s rule, Teatr.Doc has made enemies with documentary work that explores the social and political fall out from Russia’s slide towards authoritarianism. In a move that has shaken the international theatrical community, the Moscow authorities have ordered Teatr.Doc to vacate the property on grounds that it had violated […]

USA reportedly excludes artists and writers with Arab names

“Excluding important writers like Nasser from the literary dialogue punishes US readers, reduces their exposure to Arabic writing in translation, and potentially limits American literature,” writes Al Jazeera’s Marcia Lynx Qualey after the Jordanian-British poet and novelist Amjad Nasser recently was prevented from boarding a US-bound flight. Acclaimed leftists writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo […]

China: Arts and social media increasingly restricted

The director of the annual Beijing Independent Film Festival was jailed and forced to promise not to open the festival. The move comes as social media, arts, and religion are increasingly restricted. China sees and intensified campaign against activity not considered in line with orthodox party thinking under President Xi Jinping. The broadening range of […]

Poland: Dissident theatre director fired by city mayor

Ewa Wojciak, director of Poland’s Theatre of the Eighth Day, was fired by Poznan mayor Ryszard Grobelny on 28 July 2014. His administration oversees culture and arts in the city, including Wojciak’s subversive and anti-establishment theatre group. The official reason given was that she did not ask for permission to leave the city between 18 and […]

India: Attempts to censor political theatre

Organisers and artists performing in the tiatrs – Konkani theatre – may soon have to submit a formal undertaking to south Goa’s biggest and most well-known state-run theatre performing facility, the Ravindra Bhavan, promising not to speak against politicians, government officials and VIPs, while performing onstage. » Sourced through from:

South Korea: President of biennale resigns over artistic censorship

The president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, Lee Yong-woo, has resigned over the censorship of a painting included in the Gwangju Bienniale‘s 20th anniversary exhibition, ‘Sweet Dew—After 1980’, at the Gwangju Museum of Art in South Korea. The offending artwork, a 32-foot-wide painting by Hong Seong-dam titled Sewol Owol, portrays Korean president Park Geun-hye as a maniacal scarecrow […]

United Kingdom: Theatre piece containing nudity censored

Actress Elizabeth Sogorb is being forced to wear a flesh-coloured catsuit in her performance of La Nina Barro at the fringe because venue The Newsroom has objected to the nakedness which is an integral part of the show. The performance involves Sogorb starting the piece covered in clay, which is washed off over the course […]

China: Inflatable frog censored after comparisons to ex-leader

China’s newest celebrity is a large inflatable toad floating in the middle of a Beijing pond, but mentions of the giant frog have disappeared from some of China’s news and social media sites after some netizens pointed out similarities to Jiang Zemin, China’s retired leader. » Sourced through from:

USA: High school marching band’s playlist censored

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

A history of literary censorship: three books

Three new works concerned with banned literature – from Joyce to Rushdie – are reviewed by Leo Robson in New Statesman • The Zhivago Affair: the Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book  Peter Finn and Petra Couvée Harvill Secker, 350pp, £20 • The Most Dangerous Book: the Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses  Kevin […]

USA: School committee rejects parent request to ban book for sexual content

A Waukesha School District committee in USA voted unanimously to reject a parent’s motion to ban the book ‘Looking for Alaska’ from schools after a parent challenged it too racy for Waukesha South High School’s reading list. Source:   “The board voted to ban “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s highly decorated but […]

Iran: Security forces shut down poet’s commemoration

The fourteenth commemoration ceremony for the passing of Iranian poet Ahmad Shamloo was interrupted by Islamic Republic security forces. HRANA reports that the ceremony was organised by Iran’s Writers’ Association and was held on Thursday 25 July 2014. Source:

Japan: ‘Vagina artist’ released after one week in prison

42-year-old sculptor and illustrator Megumi Igarashi has been released after spending a week in jail for distributing digital data that made it possible to recreate her genitals with a 3D printer, a possible violation of the Japanese law banning the distribution of “obscene” material, the Kyodo news agency reported Saturday. Megumi Igarashi who works under the alias […]

Israel: Palestinian artist prevented from travelling to New York for exhibition

The Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, who is known for his work about the West Bank barrier, has been prevented from travelling to New York for an opening of his exhibition, reported Khaled Jarrar was stopped by the Israeli authorities at the crossing into Jordan, according to the website +972. » The Art Newspaper – 15 […]

United Kingdom: Painting removed from exhibition over pubic hair

Leena McCall’s painting of a tattooed, pipe-smoking woman with her trousers lowered to reveal pubic hair was removed from the 153rd annual Society of Women Artists exhibit in London by the Mall Galleries. It went viral. The painting was deemed to be “too pornographic and disgusting”, the artist said. The Society of Women Artists told […]

USA: Arts festival censors art piece critical of company that runs display building

A case of censorship at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival shows what can happen when art gets into bed with commerce, reported Chicago Reader. The artist Amie Sell was censored because she bit the hand that feeds the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival. Her installation, Home Sweet Home, was critical of M. Fishman & Co., the […]

Amnesty International on silencing of filmmakers: ‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’

Steven W. Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, and writer and film director Gregory Nava have written an article in Huffington Post’s The Blog about the silencing of filmmakers and other artists in countries such as China, Iran and Russia. “Freedom of expression is both an essential human right and a foundational requirement […]

Cuba: Graffiti artist El Sexto charged and detained

The Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as ‘El Sexto’ (The Sixth), has been in custody since 4 July 2014, charged with “violation of domicile and injury”. According to Cuban activists, Maldonado will be prosecuted by the Cuban authorities under the pretense of a common crime. As a general rule, people critical of the government are […]

Singapore: Call to artists to reject self-censorship scheme

“It is like they are taking someone from within the group to be the policeman” “Singaporeans should reject the self-licensing/self-classification/self-­censorship scheme proposed by the Media Development Authority,” artists say in video produced by Arts Engage. » Find out more on » Artists’ Responses Against MDA’s Self-Censorship Scheme‎

Singapore: Writers boycott National Library Board

The National Library Board in Singapore has allegedly decided to destroy the books ‘And Tango Makes Three’, ‘The White Swan Express’ and ‘Who’s In My Family?: All About Our Families’ because of complaints from members of the We Are Against Pink Dot in Singapore Facebook group. This has caused strong reactions from writers, reported The […]

France: Mayor censors mural at ceramics museum

A mural by Jérôme Galvin commissioned for the grand reopening of a ceramics museum in a small French village was censored by the town’s new mayor who deemed Galvin’s images “insanities, vices, pornography” in an official statement. “In the room devoted to grotesque ceramics, I created a five-meter mural,” Galvin told Libération. “I took inspiration […]

USA: Media network admits error over alleged censorship of abortion comedy

The American tv-network NBC conceded the word ‘abortion’ has been removed in an online advert promoting the film ‘Obvious Child’ after pro-life observers in the US had criticised the film, reported The Guardian. » See on:

India: Fundamentals of censorship allegedly ‘skewed and misused’

“In India the fundamentals of censorship seem to be skewed in many ways, and also misused,” wrote Shaumik Samar Ghosh in an article titled ‘Censuring the Censors’, which was published in The Indian Republic, India’s largest not-for-profit news portal, on 27 June 2014. “How does Indian censorship work? Article 19(a) of India’s constitution grants us […]

South Korea: TV network bans pop song for using Japanese

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

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

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

Saudi Arabia: Edicts on music wade into controversy

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

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

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

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

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

China: Government censors exclude artists from Xinjiang Biennale

Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan is one of 80 artists forced to withdraw from the 2014 Xinjiang Biennale held in the autonomous Chinese region of Xinjiang Uyghur. The artist had been invited to participate and submitted his project ‘Procedure Room’, which pictures police torture in the Ukraine on a set of decorative plates. Nikita Kadan’s project […]

France: Art festival cancelled after censorship row

The 13th edition of the Festival International d’Art Singulier in the city of Aubagne in the south of France has been called off by its organisers, and its director has stepped down, after the municipality tried to censor two works slated to be exhibited. The offending works, dubbed “pornographic” by the mayor’s office, are Marie […]

Nepal: Forms and evolution of censorship

Ensuring freedom of expression and dissent to all is a balancing act yet to be mastered by Nepal, writes Slok Gyawali in an article published by Fair Observer which describes how censorship in Nepal has been employed for political reasons at various points in history. “The difference in reaction to perceived insults to religious sentiments […]

Russia: Film about deportation of Chechens banned

Seventy years after Chechens were deported en masse to Central Asia on the orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, a film about the brutality of the operation has been banned, with officials citing the threat of provoking ethnic enmity. Russia’s Culture Ministry has also cited insufficient evidence to prove that the dramatic enactment is historically […]

China: Exclusive essay by Ai Weiwei: ‘On Self-Censorship’

This month, Ai Weiwei withdrew his work from a show at Beijing’s influential Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a tribute to the late scholar Hans Van Dijk, with whom he worked closely, reported Huffington Post. It was a move made in protest: In a series of correspondences that surfaced online, UCCA chief Xue Mei admitted […]

United Kingdom: Hundreds of artists arrested during World War One

Artists sketching the countryside during the First World War were often accused of spying for Germany and arrested, according to the top art historian Dr James Fox, University of Cambridge. There was a great deal of paranoia during the conflict and the general population were urged to report suspicious activity, and hundreds of artists were […]

United Kingdom: Theatre poster censored ‘to avoid offence’

A poster depicting a gagged Prince Charles to promote a controversial new play, ‘King Charles III’, on at Islington’s Almeida Theatre in London, United Kingdom, was censored on the London Underground network. » Source: » See also:

Lebanon: Increase in cultural censorship

“The alarming security situation in 2013 had a negative impact on media and cultural freedom in Lebanon,” wrote Firas Talhouk in the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom’s annual report on press and cultural freedom in the Levant. Censorship of media, media activists and bloggers increases during periods of political tension – the same […]

India: Pressure from fringe groups raise concern in film sector

A growing trend of fringe groups holding to ransom censor-certified films and attempting to stall their release has become a cause of concern for filmmakers, producers, and fans. In an article entitled ‘Holding Tamil box office to ransom’, The Hindu reported that insiders in the Indian film industry worry that pressure groups prevent the release […]

Spain: Guggenheim Bilbao requests art work removed

The Guggenheim Bilbao museum has ordered a mural in public space that caricatures the museum as a battleship to be taken down, but the artists Mike Bouchet and Paul McCarthy are arguing the artwork’s removal would violate their right to freedom of speech. The museum’s request could be violating Article 20 of the Spanish Constitution, […]

Israel: Gaza theatres battle censorship and conservatism

A lack of female performers, the siege and close monitoring by the Hamas government has resulted in a dwindling Gaza theatre industry, reported Al Monitor. Hanouna said that the theater’s decline began about eight years ago, “when artists started self-censoring their work and thinking of the ruling authorities and their opinion about plays and the […]

USA: Open letter against censorship of hip-hop artists in Portland

In an open lettert to Portland’s music community, Casey Jarman, managing editor of The Believer, former music editor of Willamette Weeks and co-founder of Party Damage Records, speaks out against what he calls “a systematic attempt to silence local hip-hop artists.” Source: » See also: Hip-Hop Stopped The tension between Portland rap artists and police […]

Malaysia: Indonesian action film banned

The film ‘The Raid 2: Berandal’ was supposed to have opened in Malaysian cinemas on 28 March 2014 but it was reported that the film was not allowed to be screened in the country. The Indonesian presidential election campaign took a twist when a Democratic Party leader questioned the alleged ban of the film ‘The […]

United Kingdom: Image depicting Jesus rejected for ‘policy’ reasons

Transport for London has deemed a contemporary piece of art depicting Jesus before his crucifixion inappropriate out of fear that it would cause offence. Artist Antony Micallef described decision not to display his work ‘Kill Your Idol’ on London tube station billboards as censorship. A spokesperson for Transport for London said the poster was rejected […]

United Kingdom: Petition calls for music video ban

Shazad Iqbal from Bradford, England, started a petition calling for YouTube to take a music video by Katy Perry down, alleging it ‘promotes blasphemy’. The video features a man wearing an Allah-inscribed necklace being disintegrated. Shazad Iqbal claims that disintegrating the pendant ‘promotes blasphemy’. The petition collected 40,000 signatures from countries including Australia, India and […]

India: Publishers under pressure to withdraw contentious books

“Freedom of speech shrinks in the world’s largest democracy,” reported AFP from New Delhi. “At least one crucial pillar of its democratic edifice – the right to free expression – is being rapidly eroded, with ominous implications.” Amy Kazmin Penguin India, an arm of one of the world’s biggest publishers, the US-based Penguin Random House, […]

BBC: An Argentinian playlist of freedom

‘An Argentinian playlist of freedom’ was broadcasted on the BBC World Service on 18 February 2014. The music of a generation – growing up in the shadow of violent military rule in 1970s and 1980s Argentina. The slide show is part of the ‘Freedom 2014’ special series on BBC, ‘Freedom World Service’. “Whether it’s freedom […]

Iran: Censorship and controversy mar Fajr Film Festival

The 32nd Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran has been riddled with controversy, including numerous incidences of censorship during the live broadcasts and backlash against two films dealing with the sensitive topics of Ashura and the 2009 elections. The live broadcast of the closing ceremony of the film festival was interrupted by the head of […]



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