Libya: Authorities confiscate truckload of books

Authorities in the eastern town of Marj seized a truckload of “un-Islamic” books imported from Egypt on their way to Benghazi, reported The Express Tribune on 23 January 2017. Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Authority security officials and religious leaders called the books part of a “cultural invasion”, saying that the books promoted eroticism, secularism, Christianity, […]

Israel: Palestinian writer arrested and detained

Israeli forces arrested writer Walid Hodali on 16 January 2017 after storming his home and confiscating some of his belongings in Ramallah in the West Bank, reported Palestine Today. The Voice of Palestine reported on 16 January 2017 that the writer was taken to an unknown location and the reason for his arrest was unknown. […]

Turkey: Two mayors ban Kurdish director’s film

Two Turkish mayors have imposed bans on Kurdish director Mahsun Kırmızıgül’s latest film  ‘Vezir Parmağı’ because they say it “undermines national and spiritual values” and the is considered to be a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “sympathiser”, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 2 February 2017. Anamur district mayor Mehmet Ture said he wouldn’t let a film […]

Argentina: City mayor suspends all electronic music festivals

Mar del Plata mayor, Carlos Arroyo, issued a decree on 10 January 2017 suspending all electronic festivals in response to drug-related deaths in various Argentinian cities. The measure also reportedly aims at preventing drug consumption and reducing the number of clandestine raves, reported El Marplatense on 10 January 2017. The measure was announced despite the […]

China: U.S. rock band forced to cut songs from setlists

Heavy metal band Metallica’s concerts in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai had certain songs removed from their setlists due to China’s censorship policies, reported South China Morning Post on 23 January 2017. Metallica frontman James Hetfield told the newspaper: Why shouldn’t you respect their culture when you’re there as a guest and you’ve been invited […]

India/Pakistan: Films continue to fall victim to threats and censorship

India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, which revolves around the stories of four women, reported Hindustan Times on 23 February 2017. The CBFC stated the reason for the denial was that: “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious [sic] sexual […]

Mali: Music festival cancelled due to attacks

Northern Mali’s Festival au Désert was set to return to Timbuktu on 28 January 2017 after having been in exile since 2012, but Malian officials decided to block it after suicide bombers attacked a military camp in Gao on 18 January 2017,  killing 77 people and injuring more than 100 others, reported The Guardian on […]

Azerbaijan: Rapper’s family detained over music video

Azerbaijani authorities detained rapper Jamal Ali’s mother, uncle and two cousins for four days after Ali released an online music video critical of the government, reported Eurasianet on 9 January 2017. The video for song ‘Heykal Baba’ (Monument Grandpa) was released on 31 December 2016 and was dedicated to two young activists who are serving […]

Iran: Band banned from festival due to women singing solo

Kurdish band Dayrak Khatoon was banned from performing at the International Festival of Tribal Music in Kermanshah, in western Iran, due to the band including women who also sing solo, reported Kurdistan Human Rights Network on 22 January 2017. The organisation reported that a critical article was published in Marsad News accusing the band of […]

Iran: Writer re-arrested after temporary release from prison

Revolutionary Guards re-arrested Iranian writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee while on her way to visit her hospitalised husband, reported Amnesty International on 25 January 2017. Ebrahimi Iraee had been temporarily released from prison on 3 January 2017 pending a judicial review of her six-year sentence for writing an unpublished fictional story. The writer told Amnesty International […]

Ukraine: Banning of films continues

By Oksana Chelysheva In the period from 2014 to 2017 over 500 films produced in Russia have been banned from being broadcast and distributed in Ukraine. The list published by Ukraine’s National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting comprises not only films produced in Russia during the conflict which erupted in spring 2014, but also […]

USA: Censorship continues in public spaces and schools

Throughout 2016 and into the beginning of 2017, the US has seen multiple cases of censorship and attempted censorship of art in public spaces and schools. Murals on public walls or in university halls, books in school curricula and productions of plays and musicals have all been targeted by a variety of groups because of […]

Venezuela: Judge issues nationwide ban on film about boxer

A Caracas Children and Teenagers Protection Court judge, Salvador Mata García, issued a nationwide ban on film ‘El Inca’, based on the life of boxer Edwin “El Inca” Valero, as a preliminary measure in response to a complaint by the boxer’s family, reported El País on 25 December 2016. The ban includes the movie’s screening, […]

China: Ministry of Culture allegedly blacklists 55 artists

China has allegedly blacklisted 55 artists, mostly musicians, a majority of whom are from Hong Kong and Taiwan, who have participated in pro-democracy movements or expressed political views that China deems objectionable, reported Quartz on 11 January 2017. Hints of the blacklist came a week earlier, on 6 January, when works by some pop artists […]

Zambia: Hounded singer remains defiant

by Phoenix Gauthier, Freemuse correspondent On 11 August 2016, incumbent Zambian president Edgar Lungu squeezed out a controversial victory in the general elections, taking 50.35% of the votes. In the months that followed, Zambia experienced its worst attacks on press freedom in years. Three of its media outlets were suspended, including Muvi TV, the southern […]

Burundi: Music censorship or artist protection?

Since a political crisis hit Burundi in May 2015, tensions have been high between the powers that be and the opposition; the media and civil society have all been involved in this polarising battle; and it seems that the newest victims of this battle are local musicians who now need to pass a “quality test” […]

Israel: Police temporarily shut down Palestinian theatre

Israeli forces posted a notice outside the el-Hakawati Theatre (also known as the Palestinian National Theatre) in Jerusalem stating the theatre would be closed from six o’clock in the evening until midnight on 8 December 2016 to prevent the performance of a musical they claim is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of […]

Iran: Writer temporarily released on bail

Iranian writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was temporarily released from prison on bail on 3 January 2017, reported Amnesty International. She had been in prison since 24 October 2016 to serve a six-year sentence for writing an unpublished story about the practice of stoning as punishment in the country. The writer’s human […]

Iran: Two artists arrested, released on bail

Security forces arrested poet and actor Raouf Delfi and actor Sayed Hasan Mousavi (also known as Sayed Blood) in Abadan, in western Iran, on 13 December 2016. At the time of arrest the location of their detention was unknown, as well as their charges, reported PEN International on 22 December 2016. The organization reported on […]

Russia: Artistic freedom threatened by nationalist and orthodox groups

While Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed in a meeting with film directors and artists in early December 2016 to protect artistic freedom, he also said artists carry a responsibility not to offend religious believers, saying “there is a very narrow divide between dangerous shock value and freedom of creativity”, reported The New York Times on […]

Turkey: Novelist released on probation after 132 days of detention

Novelist Aslı Erdoğan was released from prison on 29 December 2016 after 132 days of being held in pre-trial detention on charges of terror propaganda due to her affiliation, as an advisory board member, to newspaper Özgür Gündem, reported The Guardian on 30 December 2016. The writer was released on probation, pending trial. If convicted, […]

Israel: Art featuring ministers stirs controversy

Two recent displays of art featuring Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have caused renewed uproar over art and freedom of expression in the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Controversy erupted at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem after a provocative poster featuring Netanyahu with a hangman’s noose was displayed at […]

Switzerland: Zurich cuts theatre’s funds in light of controversial play

The canton of Zurich cut its 2017 grants by 50,000 Francs (approx. $49,000 USD) to Neumarkt Theatre following the staging of a controversial play by artist Philipp Ruch that mocked publisher and parliamentarian Roger Köppel, member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), reported Swissinfo.ch on 7 December 2016. During the play, the public was […]

Spain: Exhibition organisers censor artworks by former terrorist prisoners

Curators of art exhibition ‘Giltzapekoak: Notas Sobre La Reclusión’ (Giltzapekoak: Notes on Imprisonment) reported that the San Sebastián 2016 Foundation decided to censor various artworks made by prisoners and former prisoners of Basque terrorist group ETA that were to be displayed as part of the San Sebastián 2016 European Culture Capital programme. The foundation claims it […]

Iran: Imprisoned filmmaker granted 72-hour medical leave, back in prison

Freemuse has learned from its sources that filmmaker Hossein Rajabian was granted a 72-hour medical leave earlier in the week to address health problems that have grown worse while in prison. Hossein was taken back to prison after the three days were up. Hossein and his musician brother Mehdi had been on a second hunger […]

Argentina: German electronic band’s concert re-instated after appeal

Authorities in Buenos Aires denied German electronic band Kraftwerk a permit for their performance scheduled for 23 November 2016 due to their use of synthesizers in their show; an instrument included in a judicial ban enacted earlier in the year on electronic festivals. A few days later, the concert’s promoters appealed the decision and a […]

Kuwait: Censorship hits book fair

Book fairs across the Arab-speaking regions in the Middle East and North Africa have not only grown in popularity, but have also been places were publishers can sell books that are not allowed to be sold in stores. However, the Kuwait International Book Fair, once a free space for books, has been growing stricter in […]

Egypt: Two libraries shut down, one threatened with closure

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

Singapore: Two performances cut from festival due to ‘excessive nudity’

Two performances – Ming Poon’s ‘Undressing Room’ and Thea Fitz-James’ ‘Naked Ldies’ – were cut from the 2017 M1 Singapore Fringe Festival after the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed they exceeded the R18 age rating, according to the festival’s statement released on 5 December 2016. Festival organisers added that while the artists were willing […]

Cuba: Artist El Sexto violently arrested over Castro-related graffiti

Cuban artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado was violently arrested by state security forces at his apartment in capital Havana, on 26 November 2016, hours after he took to the streets, upon the official announcement of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s death, and painted graffiti around the city stating “se fue”(he’s gone), reported Cuban newspaper 14ymedio […]

Iran: Imprisoned musician’s health deteriorating

Imprisoned Iranian musician and music distributor Mehdi Rajabian communicated via social media on 3 December 2016 that his health condition continues to worsen, despite him being granted a four-day furlough for medical treatment. In his Instagram post from 3 December, Mehdi said: They want me to go back to Prison tomorrow, while I haven’t been […]

Turkey: Seven members of Grup Yorum arrested

Turkish police arrested seven members of famous folk band Grup Yorum on 23 November 2016 on charges of assault, resisting and insulting police, and being members of a terrorist group, reported Birgün on 24 November 2016. Grup Yorum’s lawyer Aytaç Ünsal told the Turkish newspaper: Even 3 days after they were initially taken into custody, […]

Malaysia: Cartoonist arrested after exhibition attack

Cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, popularly known as Zunar, was arrested on 26 November 2016 for breaching the peace under Malaysia’s Sedition Act, just one day after an angry pro-government mob attacked his exhibition of satirical cartoons about the prime minister and other national leaders at the George Town Literary Festival, reported newspaper Free Malaysia Today. […]

Mexico: Congress proposes restrictions on “narcoseries”

A Senator and a parliamentarian both called for hardening restrictions on the airing schedules of “narcoseries” – television series in which the main topics are drug kingpins and the crimes they’re responsible for, reported El Economista on 31 October 2016. Senator Zoé Robledo and parliamentarian Lía Limón, both presidents of the Radio and TV Commissions […]

Iran: Imprisoned musician granted four-day medical leave

Musician Mehdi Rajabian, after being on hunger strike for 30 days demanding he and his brother receive much needed medical attention, was given a four-day medical furlough on 27 November 2016, according to an Instagram post the musician posted on 28 November 2016. His filmmaker brother Hossein, who also needs medical assistance, remains in prison. […]

Egypt: Writer remains imprisoned after court rejects third appeal

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

Kenya: Film board bans “obscene” music and “offensive” musician names

Kenya’s Film Classification Board (KFCB) and its head, Ezekiel Mutua, announced on 19 November 2016 that they have issued a ban on local musicians using stage names they consider to be “offensive”, as well as the sale of music that contains “obscene” lyrics or glorifies drug abuse and violence. Mutua announced the news on his […]

Iran: Filmmaker begins serving prison sentence

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi began serving his one-year prison sentence on 23 November 2016 on charges stemming from his 2012 film ‘Neveshtan Rooy-e Shahr’ (‘Writing on the City’) on the history of Iranian graffiti and wall writing and how it has changed due to political and social events, reported AFP. Karimi, who is from a […]

Ukraine: Film agency bans slew of Russian films and one German film

According to the Ukrainian State Film Agency, it has banned at least 26 Russian tv series and films since September 2016 from being aired on television or screened in cinemas across the country in accordance with Article 15-1 of its Law on Cinematography, which prohibits content that “popularizes” or features propaganda of “aggressors”. In addition […]

China: Art film censored by cultural bureau

On 7 November 2016, the Shanghai Cultural Bureau censored a film by artist Sun Xun at the private Minsheng Art Museum without giving a reason, reported The Art Newspaper on 8 November 2016. A sign next to the empty screen that was to show Sun’s 2011 woodcut animation ‘Some Actions which Haven’t Been Defined Yet […]

Norway/Russia: Musician cuts song from concert due to Russian pressure

The Russian Consulate General in Kirkenes, a town in north-eastern Norway near the Russian border, has interfered with a literature festival in the area by voicing its concern over a sold-out concert to be held on 17 November 2016 by Norwegian folk musician Moddi and Russian Arkhangelsk Chamber Orchestra, reported The Barents Observer on 15 […]

China: New film law to “promote socialist core values”

Chinese lawmakers passed the country’s first extensive film law set to take effect in March 2017, which directs filmmakers to produce films that “serve the people and socialism”, “prioritise social benefits”, and don’t “jeopardise national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity”, reported Chinese news agency Xinhua on 7 November 2016. The Film Industry Promotion Law in […]

Iran: Artist awaits appeal of five-year prison sentence

Iranian artist and painter Shahriar Siroos is awaiting a judgment on his appeal over his five-year prison sentence handed down by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in September 2016 on charges of establishing a group to “perturb the security of the country” related to him teaching art classes at his home, reported International Campaign […]

Germany: Foreign ministry cancels controversial concert at consulate in Istanbul

Germany’s foreign ministry cancelled a 13 November 2016 Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance of ‘Aghet’, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, scheduled to take place at the German consulate in Istanbul, reported Deutsche Welle on 25 October 2016. The ministry said in a short message that “the whole consulate in Istanbul is not available […]

Angola: Rappers’ concerts cancelled, one shut down by police

Rappers Ikonoklasta (real name: Luaty Beirão) and MCK planned to hold joint concert ‘Ikopongo’ on 5 November 2016 at a venue in Angolan capital Luanda, but had to reschedule the event for the next day at a different venue after management cancelled the show; the relocated show was then shut down by police, reported Deutsche […]

Saudi Arabia: Ministry confiscates thousands of books from library cafe

A committee from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information confiscated thousands of books on 4 November 2016 from the Al Rawi Café, located north of the Saudi capital Riyadh, due to most of them not having been officially approved by the ministry, reported Al Mayedeen on November 6. Ministry spokesman Hani al Ghafily defended […]

Iran: Musician sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes

On 5 November 2016, Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) was sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes after being found guilty of “spreading Western immorality”, reported Al Bawaba on 6 November 2016. The singer’s original sentence was for ten years and 74 lashes, but the time term was reduced in […]

Kyrgyzstan: Commission and extensive criteria created for banning films

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

Malaysia: Singaporean film banned due to “cultural sensitivities”

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

Egypt: Downtown Cairo art gallery raided by police

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

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

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

Argentina: Filmmakers claim government censorship over Falklands film

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan: Ban on dance classes in private schools revoked

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

Kazakhstan: Pop group banned in some towns on national tour

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

Iran: Writer arrested and imprisoned after violent home raid

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

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

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

Police, drug law and non-state actors pose threat to artistic freedom in Tunisia

COPENHAGEN, 20 OCTOBER 2016 | In Tunisia, the country’s 2014 constitution guarantees the right to artistic freedom. Despite such guarantees, artistic freedom is not fully upheld and protected. Artists, often rappers, are exposed to threats, assaults, prosecution and imprisonment by Tunisian authorities, terrorist groups and other non-state actors, according to a new stakeholder submission to the […]

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 […]

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

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

France: Art installation defaced by Turkish MP assistant

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

Moroccan artists persecuted, imprisoned when crossing red lines: UPR report

Morocco should replace unclear and vague provisions in the Penal Code and decriminalize the so-called “red line” offenses, according to a new joint stakeholder submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process by Freemuse and Racines – two civil society organizations defending artistic freedom in Morocco and globally. COPENHAGEN/CASABLANCA, 17 OCTOBER 2016 | Morocco often […]

India: Actor challenges theatre censorship in court

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

Lebanon: Two films pulled from festival over politics

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

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

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

Germany: Prosecutors drop investigation in Turkish president insult case

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

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

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

Kuwait: Emirati street racing film banned without explanation

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

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

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

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

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

Vietnam: Popular music and censorship

The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship, and the few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party or its policies face serious consequences. Focusing on popular musicians, this article charts the history of music censorship in Vietnam from the mid twentieth century through to the current digital era. […]

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

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

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

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

Tunisia: Culture Ministry bans Iranian film on Prophet Muhammad

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

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

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

Somalia: Concert cancelled for “objectionable” shows in Europe

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

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

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

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 […]

USA: Schools reverse radio station ban on buses

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

Israel: Tensions remain strained between artists and culture ministry

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

Mauritania: Rapper harassed and attacked by police

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

China: Ai Weiwei pulled from exhibition under political pressure

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

Sierra Leone: Musician allegedly censored due to political song

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

Israel: Detained Palestinian poet heads to trial over poem

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

USA: Artworks featuring guns seized at airport

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

Iran: Concerts in the crosshairs

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

Malaysia: Artist released on bail; investigation pending

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

Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

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

India: Artists struggle with censors over LGBT and other themes

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

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

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

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

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

United Kingdom: Woman’s right to read violated

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

Turkey: Writer arrested amidst crackdown after coup attempt

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

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

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

Turkey: Singer’s concerts cancelled due to coup-related remarks

The Turkish government cancelled four concerts by pop star Sıla Gençoğlu over comments she made about a democracy rally held in Istanbul on 7 August 2016 in the aftermath of an attempted coup that happened a month earlier, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 11 August 2016.  “I am absolutely against the coup, but I prefer […]

Sweden: Metal band allegedly receives threats after cancelling gig

Swedish metal band Black Ingvars have reported receiving multiple anonymous death threats after they decided to pull out of a summer festival organised by far-right, nationalist party Swedish Democrats, reported Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on 8 August 2016. “I have received emails where people write that they hope I’ll die in a car crash or suffer […]

Pakistan: Government bans film at home and abroad

Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce has banned the export of political thriller ‘Maalik’ at the request of the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, which had already banned the film in May 2016 from being shown in Pakistan, meaning the film will also not be allowed to be shown abroad, reported Pakistan Today on 11 […]

China: State agency reportedly bans South Korean stars over diplomatic feud

Officials from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television have allegedly passed down “verbal orders” to TV stations that approvals for South Korean programmes or those featuring South Korean stars would not be granted for the time being, reported South China Morning Post on 2 August 2016. Further, according to the new […]

India: Writer detained over attempted murder charges

Dalit writer Durai Guna and activist friend Bhoopathy Karthikeyan were arrested on 10 June 2016 for attempted murder during the Chennai Book Fair, though those close to the writer and human rights activists claim the charges are false and are a continuation of harassment Guna has suffered for works he’s published on Dalit issues, reported […]

Uzbekistan: Suspended artists and instrument bans

Ever-tightening restrictions on musicians and artists continue to take their toll in Uzbekistan as state-run arts association Uzbeknavo revoked the licenses of three pop artists for holding performances abroad to lacklustre audience numbers, reported Uzbek news outlet UZ24 on 20 July 2016. Uzbeknavo license department head Odiljon Abdukahhar said the association stripped singers Sitora Farmonova, […]

Malaysia: Rapper threatened with censorship and arrest

Police plan to arrest rapper Namewee (real name Wee Meng Chee) when he returns to Malaysia over his recent video for a song he performed with Taiwanese hip hop trio Jiu Yi Yi (Nine One One) called ‘Oh My God’, which has allegedly insulted religion, reported Free Malaysia Today on 2 August 2016. Penang police […]

Tanzania: Rapper banned from music industry indefinitely

The Tanzanian National Arts Council (Basata) banned popular rapper Nay wa Mitego (real name Emmanuel Elibariki) from participating in the music industry indefinitely due to “immoral content” in his latest song ‘Pale Kati Patamu’, reported Tanzanian news outlet The Citizen on 28 July 2016. “We have barred him from performing in Tanzania indefinitely,” Basata executive […]

Pakistan: Music returns to region amid scepticism

The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the north-western region of Pakistan, announced a fund to support 500 artists, including musicians, in the area by giving them $300 USD per month to create and practice their art, reported Al Jazeera on 27 May 2016. Apart from the fund, the government is also planning on spending $5 […]

USA: Anti-Donald Trump song censored

US presidential nominee Donald Trump and the secret service demanded changes be made to two songs by rapper YG on his latest album released in June 2016 for anti-Trump lyrics, reported entertainment news outlet Vulture on 16 June 2016. The two censored songs – ‘FDT’ (an abbreviation for Fuck Donald Trump) and ‘Blacks and Browns’ […]

Morocco: Writer fined, sentenced for defamation over characters in novel

The trial court in the central Moroccan province of Ouarzazate sentenced writer Aziz Benhadouch on 2 August 2016 to a two-month suspended prison sentence, levied a 1,000 Dirham (approx. USD $100) fine and ordered he pay 20,000 Dirhams (approx. USD $2,035) in compensation to plaintiffs over his 2014 novel ‘The Island of Males’, reported rights […]

Denmark/USA: Artists censored in public spaces

Art in public spaces raises several issues around acceptable content/subject matter, including nudity, race, politics or obscenity, who is funding the work, whether it’s government, business or private individuals, and what the processes are behind who decides what goes up or comes down and why. Three recent incidents of art in public spaces in Denmark and […]

India: Film censorship continues unabated

Even after losing the high profile, month-long battle with the film producers of ‘Udta Punjab’ wherein India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) called for nearly 100 cuts/edits, the board continues to censor films throughout the country at a fast clip. Though the CBFC has been embroiled in controversy over its decisions and methods, other government […]

China: Government arts association expels “vulgar” artist

Chinese artist and calligrapher Sun Ping has been expelled from the China Artists Association (CAA) due a performance piece deemed “vulgar” that features women painting calligraphy using brushes held inside their vaginas, reported The Independent on 16 June 2016. The CAA said in a statement: In recent years, Sun Ping used the name of performance […]

Saint Kitts and Nevis: US rapper arrested, fined for profane lyrics

Local police in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis arrested US rapper 50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson) on 25 June 2016 for using “indecent language” onstage during one of his songs. The rapper later pleaded guilty to the offence, paid a fine of USD $1,100 and was released, reported Rolling Stone […]

Thailand: Four flicks banned from film festival

Thailand Film Destination Festival state organisers pulled four films from their festival, but have not made their reasons officially clear, though observers have noted that the dropped films had raunchy or violent scenes that showed the country in a bad light, reported The Straits Times on 10 July 2016. One of the banned films was […]

Pakistan: Controversial Indian film suffers 100 cuts before release

Indian film ‘Udta Punjab’, which already has faced a tough censorship battle in India, was released in parts of Pakistan on 24 June 2016, but only after 100 cuts were made to the film removing “objectionable and anti-Pakistan” content, reported The Indian Express on 21 and 27 June 2016. “We have cut all derogatory and […]

China: Tibetan film director detained, hospitalised

Chinese police at the airport in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, detained Tibetan director Pema Tseden on 25 June 2016 for five days for “disturbing public order” and was hospitalised during that time on 27 June 2016 after he “displayed health problems”, reported The New York Times on 29 June 2016. Staff members and […]

Somalia: Security forces arrest musician

Security forces in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, arrested musician Farhan Hidig (Farxaan Xidig) in late June 2016 due to him visiting Mogadishu and remains in custody, according to Freemuse sources. According to local media sources the musician was arrested in connection to his political activity. Somaliland authorities have not commented yet on Hidig’s arrest. While […]

Saudi Arabia: Emir bans playing and carrying of musical instruments in region

Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal of the eastern region of Makkah banned the playing and carrying of musical instruments, headphones and speakers in public places within all governorates in the region on 16 June 2016, reported several local news sources, including the Saudi Gazette, Emirates 24/7 and Gulf Digital News, on 16 June 2016. The directive […]

Ukraine: Belarusian singer denied entry due to Crimea concert

Belarusian singer Max Korzh was denied entry into Ukraine on 17 February 2016 where he was due to go on his five-city tour in the country in early March, reported BBC Ukraine on 26 February 2016. While organisers said the tour would be postponed until later in the year, press secretary for Ukraine’s security service […]

Malta: Rock band dropped from festival over frontman’s Facebook posts

Maltese rock band Brikkuni have been dropped from the Farsons Beer Festival by the beverage company due to Facebook comments lead singer Mario Vella posted about the prime minister’s wife, reported Malta Today on 27 June 2016. Vella’s post was covered extensively by the prime minister’s party media company which asked if Farsons would react […]

Poland: Ukrainian band stopped at border due to local threats

Polish authorities did not let Ukrainian band Ot Vinta cross the border into Poland as local hard-core football fans known as Ultras threatened to stage mass riots and burn down the stage the band was set to perform on if they were let into the country. The band was scheduled to play in a festival […]

Central African Republic: Rapper beaten by army general

In early June 2016, Central African Republic rapper Vey-Zo was beaten at a bar in the capital city of Bangui by army general Roman Guitizia, put into the trunk of a car and taken to an army base where he was further tortured, according to information posted by civil society organisation Arterial Network on 30 […]

China: American singer banned due to Dalai Lama meeting

American pop star Lady Gaga is the latest addition to the ever-growing list of artists banned by China for their meetings with the Dalai Lama or stances on Tibet, reported The Guardian on 28 June 2016. The singer met with the Dalai Lama on 26 June 2016 at the US Conference of Mayors for approximately […]

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 […]

Nigeria: Musician kidnapped, found, later detained allegedly due to song

Musician Ado Daukaka was abducted in Adamawa State in north-eastern Nigeria in the early hours of 25 June 2016 just after the release of his latest anti-corruption song ‘Gyara Kayanka’ (‘Put your house in order’), and found five days later on 29 June 2016 unconscious in some bushes 80 kilometres away from state capital of […]

Chile/USA: Former military officer convicted for murdering singer Victor Jara

On 27 June 2016, a jury in Orlando, USA, ordered the former Chilean military officer Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez to pay US$28 million in damages to Chilean singer Victor Jara’s widow and daughters. The court found the 67-year-old former senior military officer, who lives in the US, liable for the torture and murder of the […]

Myanmar/Burma: Censors pull film from human rights festival

Myanmar’s film censorship board banned the film ‘Twilight over Burma’ on the grounds that it could “harm ethnic unity” and the “image of the military” as it tells the real-life story of an Austrian woman who married an ethnic Shan prince during the early days of the country’s independence and 1962 military coup, reported The […]

Russia: Music video censored for having same-sex kiss

A video by the British electronic band Years and Years for its single ‘Desire’ has been censored in Russia by blurring out a scene wherein the lead singer kisses another man, reported British magazine Digital Spy on 11 June 2016. Russia has been making headlines over its laws on homosexuality, including a law proposed in […]

Senegal: Singer arrested and detained for indecency

Singer Déesse Major was arrested and released after three days of detention on indecency and assault on morality charges brought on by complaints of the artist wearing provocative clothes, reported French global radio RFI on 22 June 2016. Troubles for the singer began in October 2014 when Adama Mboup, president of the Senegalese Committee for […]

USA: Gun removed from art piece in university museum

University of Houston officials and police censored artist Alton Dulaney’s ‘ARTGun’ work by removing the gun from the piece while on display at the campus museum, reported Houston Press on 4 May 2016. Dulaney wanted his piece to act as commentary on the gun culture of the country, and especially in the state of Texas, […]

Russia: Ministry censors theatre company’s festival performances

Government authorities have banned Russian independent theatre company Teatr.doc’s production of the play ‘Pushkin and Money’, scedduled to be part of a theatre festival on 12 June 2016 at the Moscow Hermitage Garden, reported The Calvert Journal on 13 June 2016. In a Deutsche Welle interview with the play’s director Anastasia Patlay, published on 13 June 2016, […]

South Sudan: Minister bans foreign music on radio station

Joseph Natale Subuni, the minister of information and communications of the newly created Gbudwe State in South Sudan, banned the playing of foreign music over local Yambio FM radio while giving a public commemoration speech, reported Paris-based news site Sudan Tribune on 16 May 2016. “With effect from now, no more playing foreign music over […]

Gambia: Music banned during Ramadan

A Gambian state police statement issued on 6 June 2016 announced a ban on music, drumming and dance in “all ceremonies, festivities and programmes” taking place, day or night, during the holy month of Ramadan, reported Nigerian newspaper Punch on 9 June 2016. The statement warned that “all those engaged” in playing music or dance […]

Singapore: State regulators call for same-sex kiss removal in musical

A brief peck between two male actors in the musical Les Miserables staged at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre was cut from the production after the state’s Media Development Authority (MDA) said it violated the show’s ratings and received public complaints, reported Channel News Asia on 11 June 2016. Authorities said in a statement that the kiss […]

Russia: Performance artist Pavlensky released with fine

The ‘art or arson’ court case against Pyotr Pavlensky for setting fire to the door of the Federal Security Service – the KGB successor – has finally come to a verdict at a Moscow court on 8 June 2016. Surprisingly Pavlensky was released, though he was at the same time sentenced to pay a fine of […]

Iran: Film screening banned due to religious pressure

Iran’s Ministry of Culture withdrew the screening permit for director Mani Haghighi’s film ’50 Kilos of Tart Cherries’ in the city of Tabas in central Iran after a local imam during Friday prayers said the film is “destroying revolutionary values”, reported Radio Zamaneh on 30 May 2016. Imam Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Mohajerian criticised the ministry for […]

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 […]

Iran: Eight producers arrested for “obscene” music videos

Eight producers of music videos broadcasted on Persian-language satellite networks outside Iran have been arrested, reported Iranian judiciary news agency Mizan Online on 28 May 2016. According to Tehran prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi the videos were “obscene” and “broadcast on a famous anti-revolutionary television channel” and added that a special court for media and […]

Malaysia: Artist charged over caricature of prime minister

Malaysian ‘visual disobedience’ artist Fahmi Reza has been charged over a clown caricature of Malaysian Prime Minister Razak. He faces a possible one-year prison sentence and a US$16,580 fine, said his attorney according to AFP on 6 June 2016. On his Facebook page, the 38-year-old artist wrote: “I am not afraid to stand trial for […]

Iran: Musician and filmmaker imprisoned

According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, were imprisoned for their art on 5 June 2016. They have been convicted to three years imprisonment. Please help us in getting the charges dropped against the two artists and freeing Mehdi and Hossein by taking action and sharing the video below and using the […]

Russia: Artist convicted to 16 months in prison for vandalism

A Moscow court found Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky guilty of vandalism, Dimitri Kozlov of the Associated Press reported on 19 May 2016. The artist was convicted for setting fire to car tires on Saint Petersburg’s Tripartite Bridge during a pro-Ukraine performance, titled ‘Freedom’, in February 2014. While the court sentenced Pavlensky to 16 months […]

Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker summoned to prison

A summons order issued on 27 May 2016 by Iranian authorities requires musicians Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian to turn themselves in to prison by 31 May 2016 to serve out their three-year sentences. The summons orders them to report to the Office of the Prosecutor at Tehran’s Evin Prison. “Art is […]

Afghanistan: Kandahar authorities ban broadcast of songs by women

Local Ministry of Information and Culture authorities in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan have banned women’s songs from being broadcast across local media, directly affecting the 11 radio stations in operation in the area, reported Afghanistan’s TOLONews on 23 May 2016. Head of Wranga Radio in Kandahar told TOLONews that “local officials in Kandahar […]

Myanmar/Burma: Poet sentenced to six months in prison for defamation

Poet Maung Saung Kha was sentenced on 24 May 2016 to six months in prison for defaming former president Thein Sein in a poem he posted on his Facebook page in October 2015, reported PEN International on 25 May 2016. The poet was arrested on 5 November 2015, charged for online defamation under the country’s Telecommunications […]

Germany: Court bans two-thirds of satirical poem mocking Turkish president

A Hamburg court on 17 May 2016 banned the re-publication of 18 lines of a 24-line satirical poem written by German comedian Jan Böhmermann criticising Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as they were deemed to be “abusive and libellous”, reported The Telegraph on 17 May 2016. The court said it had to strike a balance […]

Iran: Concerts cancelled under pressure from religious conservatives

This article on cancelled concerts and the nebulous state of artistic freedom due to opposing viewpoints between religious conservatives and the government in Iran was originally published by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on 19 May 2016, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to republish it here: Concerts of Popular Iranian Musicians Cancelled Due […]

Tanzania: Artist banned from performing due to “immoral” video

Snura Mushi’s latest popular hit ‘Chura’ has not only led Tanzanian authorities to ban the video and its distribution on 4 May 2016, just days after the video hit the internet, but they have also banned the artist from performing until the video is edited, Tanzanian newspaper Daily News reported on 5 May 2016. The […]

France: Mayor cancels WWI centenary concert over rapper’s “anti-France” lyrics

Verdun city mayor Samuel Hazard cancelled French rapper Black M’s concert commemorating the 100-year anniversary of WWI’s Battle of Verdun due to protests fuelled by far-right website’s fdesouche.com post on the rapper’s “anti-France” and homophobic lyrics, reported French radio station RFI on 14 May 2016. The site, along with National Front party members, in particular […]

Malaysia: Three books banned for “harming morals”

Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) banned three books at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair, for “harming morals” under section 7 of the 1984 Printing Presses and Publication Act, news outlet Malay Mail Online reported on 6 May 2016. One of the books was published by Amran Fans, a popular Facebook aggregator page, who […]

Nigeria: Broadcast authority blacklists yet another one of rapper’s songs

Nigerian hip hop star Olamide has had a fourth song, ‘Don’t Stop’, placed on the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) blacklist in less than a year, reported The Net on 16 March 2016. In a statement, NBC said it banned the song from the country’s airwaves due to its “obscenity, being indecent, [and having] vulgar languages, […]

Turkey: “Music that sexually turns on people is a sin”

Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdoğan’s rule. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa – a religious ban – on ‘sexual’ music. The latest victim of this arbitrary repression is an imam who runs a rockband and opposes the Directorate’s fatwa from a religious perspective. By Yiğit Günay […]

Lebanon: Authorities ban song on grounds of offending God

The censorship bureau of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate has banned Bachar Mar-Khalife’s song ‘Kyrie Eleison’ because it “contains offenses to God as the singer talked to God in the song saying, ‘have mercy on us and leave us alone’”, reported CNN Arabic on 12 April 2016. The authorities further stated that if Bashar Mar-Khalife wants […]

South Korea: Dance group performances cancelled due to Chinese threats

New York-based dance troupe Shen Yun has felt China’s long reach in South Korea when they found their recent scheduled performances cancelled by court order “explicitly citing threats by the Chinese embassy”, reported The Diplomat on 9 May 2016. The trouble between Shen Yun, the Korean Broadcasting Service (KBS) which runs the theatre venue KBS […]

 

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