Egypt: Writer wins appeal, court orders retrial

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

Egypt: Musician takes Music Syndicate head to court

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

Egypt: Writer’s prison sentence suspended pending final verdict

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

Egypt: Two libraries shut down, one threatened with closure

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

Egypt: Writer remains imprisoned after court rejects third appeal

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

Egypt: Downtown Cairo art gallery raided by police

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

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

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

Egypt: Satirist troupe released after long detention, restrictions remain

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

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

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

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

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

Egypt: Satirist troupe’s detention renewed, amounting to 75 days

A North Cairo court decided on 2 July 2016 to renew the detention of satirist troupe Street Children for yet another 15 days, reported Egyptian online news source Aswat Masriya on 2 July 2016. This latest renewal is the group’s fifth such consecutive ruling totalling 75 days in detention as they await ever-delayed court proceedings […]

Egypt: Heavy metal concert cancelled, three arrested

Concert promoter and musician Nader Sadek, along with two others, were arrested by Giza police when they stopped a heavy metal concert on 4 June 2016 featuring Brazilian band Sepultura before it even started due to a lack of permits, reported Ahram Online on 5 June 2016. Head of the Giza Security Directorate General Ahmed […]

Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

Freemuse Annual Statistics on Censorship and Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2015 Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in far too many countries. The Freemuse annual report summarises censorship and threats on artistic freedom in 2015 in over 70 countries. In total, Freemuse registered 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists and violations of […]

Egypt: Radio station bans mahraganat song

Ahmed Sameer, president of Cairo’s Nagham FM radio station, has banned Mahmoud al-Laithi and female singer Bossi’s mahraganat song ‘Bonbonaia’ (meaning candy) from the station, reported on 18 April 2016. Sameer’s order came after Ahmed al-Shenawi’s show ‘My Beloved People’ aired the song, which Sameer said contained explicit lyrics that “do not match Egyptian […]

Egypt: Five members of satirist troupe arrested

As the climate for artists, journalists, intellectuals and regular citizens who wish to criticise, politicise or simply satirise current Egyptian values and society gets more heated and dangerous, a troupe of young comedians has become the latest group to be targeted by authorities. Freemuse stringer Shahira Amin reports on the recent developments in the deteriorating state […]

Egypt: Screening of Israeli award-winning film cancelled

The Egyptian Culture Ministry cancelled a screening of Eran Kolirin’s film ‘The Band’s Visit’ that was to take place at the Palace of Culture in Beni Suef, 115 kilometres south of Cairo, Misr Journal reported on 23 January 2016. The film was set to be screened on 24 January 2016, but the regional cultural president […]

Egypt: Several books banned at international book fair

According to Egyptian news portal Youm7, several books were banned from the 2016 Cairo International Book Fair held in late January/early February 2016 for presenting controversial themes and ideas on topics such as homosexuality and female status. Moroccan author Mohamed Shokri’s ‘For the Sake of Only Bread’ was the first book to be banned at […]

Egypt: Fear of heavy metal returns

Recent controversies in Egypt over heavy metal music continue to highlight findings in the 2010 Freemuse report “Headbanging against Repressive Regimes”, wherein the music and its fans remain misunderstood and victims of conservative policies and societies. Freemuse Egypt stringer, Shahira Amin, explains the recent events around heavy metal concerts, the role of the Musicians Syndicate and its […]

Egypt: Author imprisoned for ‘violating public modesty’

On 20 February 2016, the Egyptian author Ahmed Naji was sentenced to two years in prison by a Cairo appeals court for having published in a magazine a sexually explicit excerpt of his novel that prosecutors said “violated public modesty”.  Naji (also spelled: Naje) was initially acquitted, but after the case garnered widespread media coverage, […]

Egypt: Mahraganat artists challenge limits

For many youngsters in Egypt, mahraganat artists represent the voice of the people. They address social issues, relationships and drug problems. They operate in a landscape of recognition, occasional public and self-censorship and the consequences of the newly suggested committee for “the development of morals and conscience and the promotion of work ethics and values […]

Egypt: Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery to reopen under strict restrictions

Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery has reopened for two weeks to allow staff to make necessary changes to various permits and regulations  after having been closed for two months by Egyptian authorities for what they listed as “administrative irregularities”, reported Ahram Online on 16 February 2016.  Gallery director William Wells is seeking to reopen the gallery to the […]

Egypt: Theatre play banned in governorate of Suez

The governorate of Suez has banned the theatre play ‘Ghaybouba’ (‘Coma’), starring well-known Egyptian actor Ahmed Bedeir, in response to a public outcry over its tarnishing of Egypt’s 2011 Revolution and its martyrs. The governorate of Suez is home to the first martyrs of the 25 January uprising against Mubarak in 2011. The decision allegedly […]

Egypt five years after the revolution: Artistic freedom is stifled

In the wake of a security clampdown on free expression since the military takeover of the country in July 2013, rights advocates lament that the space for free artistic expression and creativity has diminished in Egypt as restrictions on art and literary works that address politics, sex and religion, remain firmly in place.  By Shahira […]

Egypt: Arts unions granted legal powers to self-police

On 9 November 2015 Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Zend granted judicial police status, or “Al Dabtia Al Kadaeia”, to both the musician’s and actor’s trade unions, effectively meaning that unions members can now legally police and regulate themselves, reported news site The controversial decision was further compounded when, on the same day, El-Zend conferred […]

Egypt: Government cancels concert marking revolution anniversary

The band Elawela Balady posted on its Facebook page that they were informed by the Ministry of State of Antiquities to cancel a concert they had scheduled on 24 January 2016 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, reported The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. The cancellation comes despite the fact […]

Egypt: Film producer sentenced to jail and fined for “indecency”

On 11 January 2016 the Dokki Misdemeanors court in Giza ruled against film producer Rana Al Subki for promoting and releasing “racy” images in one of her recent films, sentencing her to one year in prison and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (about USD 1,275), reported Al Rai Press. Attorney Samir Sabri filed a claim against […]

Egypt: Screenwriter threatened by Muslim Brotherhood

Some Muslim Brotherhood members launched a media attack against serialised TV show ‘The Kingdom of Yusuf Al Maghrabi’ and its screenwriter Youssef Hamdi, including resorting to blackmail, for portraying some of the group’s members in a poor light, reported online news platform Newsbookra. The threats came after members of the group discovered that in an […]

Egypt: Singer released after paying bail on contempt of religion charges

Shaaban Abdel Rahim, famed and controversial Egyptian folklore singer, was under legal and public attacks for the Youtube release of a video of him singing Qur’an lyrics while wearing the religious clothing of Al-Azhar clerics, which landed him in jail, reported The Cairo Post. Attorney Mohammed Kamal filed a claim in October 2015 against Abdel […]

Egypt: Poet banned from travel

Egyptian authorities prevented poet Omar Hazek from traveling to the Netherlands on 14 January 2016 where he was set to accept the 2016 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression, reported PEN International. Authorities detained and questioned Hazek in Cairo International Airport for five hours, eventually releasing him, but not after confiscating his passport. Authorities […]

Egypt: Union president suspends six singers from performing

Hani Shaker, controversial president of the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate, issued a decision to suspend six singers from being able to work as artists based on their behaviours during performances, reported Al Arabya News. Shaker stated that their behaviour was not in line with public morals as they wore “body revealing clothes” and acted “racy” and […]

Egypt: Novelist acquitted

The Egyptian novelist Ahmed Nagy was acquitted by the Cairo Bulaq Criminal Court of charges of publishing and writing an article with “obscene sexual content” on 2 January 2016. The novelist was referred to court in November 2015 after publishing a chapter of his novel ‘The Use of Life’ in Akhbar Al-Adab, a literary journal affiliated […]

Egypt: Authorities shut down respected art gallery in Cairo

In a move seen by free speech advocates as “a severe blow to freedom of artistic expression and creativity”, the Egyptian authorities have shut down a highly respected art gallery and an affiliated theatre in downtown Cairo. By Shahira Amin, reporting for Freemuse The evening raid on 28 December 2015 on the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary […]

Egypt: Censorship Authority stirs controversy over attempted film bans

The Egyptian Censorship Authority has reversed its decision to completely reject the production of a comedy film by actor and screenwriter Tamer Abdel Moneim, El Watan News reported on 4 November 2015. The comedy, which is meant to be a sequel to Abdel Moneim’s 2003 film ‘Al-Meshakhasaty’ (The Master of Disguise), is now a go […]

Egypt: Playwright speaks about his trials with censorship

The arts magazine Guernica recently published an interview with Karim Alrawi, an Egyptian playwright and novelist. Though his literary career started in London, he returned to Egypt to teach in the theatre department at the American University in Cairo. During his time teaching at the American University, Alrawi also attempted to put on plays, most […]

Egypt: Censorship board rejects film script for ‘inciting incest’

The script of a movie based on the novel a “House of Flesh” has been rejected by the art censorship authority on grounds that it “incites incest,” although a number of short films with the same plot have previously represented Egypt in several festivals. This was reported by the Cairo Post on 13 October 2015. […]

Egypt: Resolution against revealing clothing and “vulgar” lyrics

Egypt’s Musicians’ Union bans artists from wearing “indecent” clothing and using “vulgar” vocabulary on stage and television in a resolution passed at the end of August 2015. Hani Shaker, the newly elected head of the union, aims to continue to promote Egyptian art, but not at the expense of the country’s morals and customs, thus […]

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 […]

Egypt: Three-day conference on theatre and censorship

Articles and brief reports from a Cairo conference on theatre and censorship which was organised by The National Centre of Theatre, Music and Popular Arts on 23-27 May 2015. “The discussion proved to be intense and emotional from the beginning, illustrating how hard it is to discuss a complex issue and ask questions which demand […]

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 […]

Egypt: Composer arrested and singer escaped

On Friday 13 March 2015, two hours after a song called ‘Egypt is Narrow’, (‘Masr ya Dayka’) had been broadcasted on the tv channel Al Sharq, the composer of the song, Ahmed Al Basher, was arrested, and the singer, Ali Al Hendawi, was allegedly being chased by police. The song ‘Egypt is Narrow’ is a […]

Suppression of artsfreedom in Middle East and North Africa discussed in UN

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in conjunction with Freemuse and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry organised a discussion panel on Friday 13 March 2015 on the sidelines of the 28th Human Rights Council session in Geneva, discussing several forms of suppression of artistic freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa. The panel, the […]

Egypt: Documentary with censored artists

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression recently released a documentary exploring freedom of creativity in Egypt by interviewing the artists that have been subjected to governmental censorship. Artistic expression in Egypt is one of the most tightly controlled forms of expression. It was so before the January 2011 revolution and still is today. […]

Egypt: Artists “suffer from the shackles of censorship”

Four years after the January 25 revolution, Egyptian artists say they still suffer from the shackles of censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression, wrote Dina al-Shibeeb in Al Arabiya News on 25 January 2015. In 2014, singer Mohamed Attia faced charges after protesting against a court’s ruling to acquit Mubarak, and in November 2014, […]

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 […]

Egypt: Dialogue stopped by restrictions, censorship and arrests

“Democracy is about dialogue. It is not about shutting down ideas or artistic expressions which may be in opposition to the majority or the ruling system. Due to restrictions and censorship, this dialogue is not possible in Egypt now,” wrties Egyptian singer and activist Ramy Essam in this opinion-piece which was first published by Al […]

Egyptian singer Ramy Essam: “Why I moved to Sweden for two years”

Since Freemuse announced that the Egyptian singer and musician Ramy Essam has been offered a two year residence in the Swedish city Malmö, rumours and tweets in Egypt have speculated whether he is seeking asylum. This is not the case, explained Ramy Essam, who issued the following statement on 23 October 2014: “Malmö, Wednesday, 22 […]

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 […]

Tunisia and Egypt: Music censorship after the Spring

‘The Cultural Spring’ in Tunisia and Egypt: Musicians are pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. By Victor Salama   While some Arab countries saw political changes in 2011 – president Ben Ali was ousted from power after ruling Tunisia for 24 years, Hosni Mubarak was deposed after ruling Egypt for 30 years – many cultural […]

Egypt: Finnish and Egyptian street artists labeled ‘terrorists’ for graffiti art project

Sampsa, a street artist from Finland, is wanted in Egypt for his art, and the Egyptian artist Ganzeer has been forced into hiding. A German artist collective, Captain Borderline, has been involved in the street art ‘terrorism’ as well. In the article titled ‘Artist Collective Labeled Terrorists in Egypt’ on, posted on 27 May […]

Egypt: Index on Censorship interview about censored theatre play

‘Shout Art Loud’ – a ‘living report’ from the freedom of expression charity Index on Censorship about art and sexual violence in Egypt – describes how the play ‘The Bussy Monologues’ was censored after its first performance in 2010. The directors of the play had a visit from the “morality police”, the tourism police, State […]

Egypt: Artists and writers defy censorship

Egyptian cultural figures say they will not be silenced as the authorities tighten their grip on freedom of speech. Fatenn Mostafa, the founder of the Cairo-based organisation, Art Talks, said the crackdown has mainly been limited to critics of Sisi, such as the political satirist Bassem Youssef, whose television programme has been suspended until after […]

Egypt should abolish censorship of the arts

AFTE and Freemuse publish an extensive study on censorship of artistic expression in Egypt. The 84-page report ‘Censors of Creativity’ reveals that the Egyptian government needs to reform the current legislative and institutional apparatus of censorship. “Several conservative restrictions imposed on artistic creativity contravene human rights standards and basic liberties,” says Ahmed Ezzat, the Egyptian […]

Egypt: Filmmakers suffer from censorship and union restrictions

Those involved in the film industry in Egypt are subject to censorship and strict regulation from the state, which has led a group of filmmakers to work to establish a “parallel” trade union to protect their rights and support their interests, writes Al-Monitor. “Hala Lotfy, a film director, believes that the state is totally responsible […]

Egypt: Head of censorship board resigns after controversy over film

The Lebanese diva Haifa Wehbe’s new film ‘Halawet Rooh’ (Beauty of the Soul) has been banned and withdrawn from cinema theatres in Egypt after criticism over immoral scenes. “The Egyptian Creativity Front, a coalition comprising the country’s three main artistic unions, has slammed the move as an ‘assault on the freedoms of thought, expression and […]

Egypt: Secularists and conservatives battle over music videos

In an in-depth article, Index of Censorship’s Shahira Amin describes the current battle between secularists and conservatives for the soul of the “new Egypt” where “suggestive” and “explicit” music videos are being blamed for causing a surge in incidents of sexual harassment and violence against women in the country and 20 music videos have been […]

Egypt: Poet Omar Hazek imprisoned

A two-year prison sentence was handed down to Egyptian poet Omar Hazek, who has been held in custody since his arrest in early December 2013 for taking part in a protest. Omar Hazek was held in Hadra prison in Alexandria until 21 February 2014 when he was moved to Burj Al-Arab prison also in Alexandria, […]

Egypt: Revolutionary singer stopped from performing

The Egyptian singer Mohamed Mohsen known for his anti-government songs said Saturday that authorities stopped him from performing at an arts festival attended by the country’s interim president and military chief for “security concerns”. Mohsen told The Associated Press he thought officials might “specifically targeted” him over his revolutionary songs or because he participated in […]

UK: Four artists shortlisted for Freedom of Expression Awards 2014

British theatre producer David Cecil, Lebanese playwright Lucien Bourjeily, Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud and the Turkish writer Arikan are shortlisted for the Index Awards 2014, which during 14 years have honoured some of the most remarkable fighters for free expression from around the world. The award show takes place in London, United Kingdom, on 20 […]

Freemuse and AFTE: Egypt should abolish prior censorship

Egypt should abolish prior censorship and allow artists to organise freely. These are two of the recommendations made by Freemuse and AFTE to the Egyptian government in a joint Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submitted to the United Nations. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council in the United Nations […]

Artist Alert: February 2014 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 14 March 2014: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Egypt: Oscar nod for banned Egyptian film

An acclaimed documentary about the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak has become the first Egyptian-made film to be nominated for an Academy Award – but is still not being screened in the country. Despite playing to rave reviews around the world, the film cannot be seen in Egypt because it has not passed the […]

Egypt: Film about homosexuality irks censors

Director Hany Fawzy’s ‘Family Secrets’, Egypt’s first film about homosexuality, has hit a sensitive nerve with censors in this Muslim country where the topic is taboo. The censors have objected to several scenes and want them deleted, said Fawzy, himself a well-known script writer taking his first turn at directing. See on

Egypt: Gay film under fire

Touted by the media as “Egypt’s first gay film” Hany Fawzy‘s ‘Family Secrets’ has censors asking for 13 scenes to be deleted, even though the movie is not explicit in nature. Trailer for ‘Family Secrets’ » See on

Artist Alert: November 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 5 December 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Egypt: Amid censorship, ‘Egypt’s John Stewart’ is without a show

The comedian and talk-show host Bassem Youssef’s popular but controversial show ‘El-Bernameg’, was suspended moments before its second episode. Bassem Youssef faced criticism for mocking the nationalist fervor that developed since the military pushed out democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi four months ago. CBC, the private station that carries the program, cited Youssef’s refusal to “commit […]

USA: MTV launches series to document power of music and art to ignite change

Launched on 18 November 2013, the weekly series ‘Rebel Music’ on MTV’s collage-channel in the United States, mtvU, documents youth uprising and the power of music and art to ignite change in conflict areas around the world. “Revolution has a sound. Meet a new generation of fearless youth igniting change around the world.” Each of […]

Egypt: Theatre of the revolution

With most spaces state owned and requiring censor approval for performance, it is difficult for independent theatre to find a place to develop. Despite limitations due to censorship and spaces to perform, the artists push one another to find alternative solutions to their problems. By Chalaine Chang And Giulia Bertoluzzi 8 November 2013 See on […]

Egypt: TV bans ‘romantic’ songs amid unrest

The broadcasting of any “romantic” songs or music videos on Egyptian state television channels has been banned, a state-run newspaper announced on Thursday, adding that only “patriotic” tunes will be allowed to be aired. See on

Middle East: Censorship and the Arab Uprisings

“In the context of the Arab Uprisings, the censorship can be seen as a symptom of governments’ fear of people uniting and has led to grave human rights violations, torture, exile and the morbid murdering of artists.” – 31 October 2013: Protecting the creative voices of the Arab Uprising Article by Henriette Johansen

Artist Alert: June 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published at on 17 July 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Egypt: Amal Maher’s music banned because of ‘revolutionary’ lyrics

The Egyptian Minister of Information, Salah Abdel Maqsoud, threw down a ban on the former Arab Idol contestant’s music because it was believed to be calling for a revolution against the president. See on

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 […]

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 […]

Egypt: Comedian on trial: “They try to exhaust us”

The popular satirist and comedian Bassem Youssef was interrogated nearly four hours in court on 31 March 2013 for alleged insults against President Mohamed Morsi and Islam. His case has intensified discussions about freedom of expression in the country. “A new complaint has been filed against me by the state prosecutor for spreading rumors and […]

Egypt: Concert cancelled because of threats

In Cairo, singer and guitarist Ramy Essam, winner of Freemuse Award 2011 who performed in front of hundred thousands of people during the final days of the 2011-revolution on Tahrir Square, had to cancel his performance to a few dozen fans due to threats of physical violence. Ramy Essam’s manager received information that groups of […]

Egypt’s art world rallies to defend freedom of expression

Artists, curators, critics and academics have united against president Mohamed Morsi and his controversial new constitution, which they say threatens freedom of expression and creativity. An arts forum has been closed. A cartoonist has been taken to court, reported The Art Newspaper. In December 2012, Yasser Borhami, a member of the Al-Nour party, praised the […]

Egypt: Prosecutors investigate comedian for insulting the president

A popular Egyptian political satirist, Dr Bassem Youssef, who shot to fame with his amateur internet videos poking fun at public figures in the wake of the February 2011 uprising, is being investigated by prosecutors for allegedly insulting the president. This was reported by BBC World. A formal complaint was brought against Bassem Youssef for […]

Syrian film removed from Egyptian film festival

Official sources at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), which launched on 27 November 2012, said that the Syrian film ‘El Asheq’ (The Lover) was disqualified from the festival’s competition because of the lead actor’s and director’s support for Syria’s current ruler Bashar El-Assad. Syrian film director Abdul Hamid’s ‘El Asheq’ was supposed to had […]

Egypt: Film team received death threats before release

After many battles with the Egyptian authorities over its release, the film ‘Al-Molhid’ (The Atheist) was passed by the Egyptian censorship committee without any scenes being removed, but the team behind the film has been receiving death threats from radicals in the country. Film producer Adham Afifi told Egyptian media that the film team has […]

Egypt: Row over song which allegedly insults Islam

On 1 November 2012, Egypt’s Ministry of Culture censored a scene with a song in a popular new film, after Islamists claimed the song insulted Islam, reported Egypt Independent and Al Bawaba. The film ‘Abdu Mouta’ which is playing in cinemas across Egypt, recorded the highest one-day revenue in the history of Egyptian cinema, making […]

Egypt: Censorship committee’s film script edits rejected

Director and screenwriter Amr Salama called for support from the film and journalism communities after censorship committee had rejected his latest script for a film about religious discrimination. Egypt’s Minister of culture then came forward with a promise that the film can be made without changes. Amr Salama told the Egyptian press that his film […]

Egypt: New film censorship law drafted

A draft law is being prepared by the Egyptian parliament’s Religious Affairs Committee aimed at criminalising production of sexually explicit content by local media companies, flagship state daily Al-Ahram reported on 26 April 2012. Conservative Islamists in Egypt’s parliament are reportedly pushing for a cinema censorship law calling for cuts in Egyptian films of all […]

Egypt: Belly dancing equated to prostitution, tv broadcaster arrested

On 17 May 2012, the owner of a satellite tv station, Baleegh Hamdi, was arrested in his appartment by Giza Security Forces on charges of encouraging prostitution and “incitement to immorality” by broadcasting a show on belly dancers. Baleegh Hamdi’s channel, Al Taat, broadcasts videos of belly dancers throughout the day giving performances to live […]

Egyptian court upholds comic actor’s prison sentence

A court in Egypt has upheld the three-month prison sentence given to leading comic actor Adel Imam for insulting Islam in his films and plays, reported BBC News on 25 April 2012. 71-year-old actor Adel Imam was also fined 170 US dollars by the court in the capital, Cairo. The case brought against Adel Imam […]



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