Russia: Librarian found guilty for holding “extremist literature”

On 5 June 2017, Natalia Sharina, the former director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow was given a four-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of “inciting hatred”, “embezzlement” and having “extremist literature” at the library, reported Amnesty International. Sharina was arrested in October 2015 when authorities confiscated books from the library that […]

Saudi Arabia: Books banned, performance interrupted at book fair

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information banned and confiscated books by Egyptian writer Youssef Zeidan from the Riyadh International Book Fair, held from 8 to 18 March 2017, reported Cairo Portal on 12 March 2017. The writer told Masr Alarabiya on 11 March 2017 that his books were available during the launch of the […]

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 […]

INSIGHT 2016 publication: Targeting the arts

» Read on Targeting the arts INSIGHT articles about controversies and conflicts over art in 2016 Documenting incidents of censorship will never be enough. From the very beginning, Freemuse has attempted to describe censorship of music and arts in a larger context. In 2015 we introduced INSIGHT – a series of articles providing readers with […]

Cuba: Authorities ban book by exiled author

Cuban authorities have retained all copies of exiled Cuban author Armando Lucas Correa’s new book ‘The German Girl’. The copies were shipped from the US as part of the cargo to be exhibited by Publishers Weekly’s delegation at the Havana International Book Fair, reported Diario de Cuba on 25 February 2017. Customs authorities in Cuba […]

Algeria: Writer under investigation over allegedly insulting Islam in novel

PEN International has called on Algerian authorities to abandon the investigation of writer Anouar Rahmani for allegedly insulting Islam in his latest novel ‘Jibril’s Hallucination’. If prosecuted under article 144 (bis 2) of the penal code, the writer could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 dinars (approx. […]

China: PEN International calls for release of imprisoned Tibetan writer

PEN International continues to call on Chinese authorities to release Tibetan writer Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, who has served more than eight years of his 15-year prison sentence after being convicted of “disclosing state secrets”, PEN International said on 1 March 2017. Based on the evidence, the organisation stated it believes the writer “is very […]

Belarus: Ukrainian writer apprehended and banned from entry

Belarusian security agents apprehended Ukrainian writer and poet Serhiy Zhadan from his hotel in Minsk in the middle of the night of 11 February 2017, detained him overnight in a prison cell and ordered him to leave the country by the end of the day, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 11 February 2017. Zhadan, […]

Israel: Police detain Palestinian writer allegedly over novel

Israeli police detained Palestinian writer Khalida Ghosheh after raiding her home in the neighbourdhood of Beit Hanina in eastern Jerusalem and took her into custody for interrogation on 11 March 2017, reported the Ma’an News Agency. Ghosheh told her lawyer that the reason for her detention was related to her latest novel ‘Masyadat Ibn Awa’ […]

Spain: Censorship under Franco still looms over the arts

While Dr. Jordi Cornella, currently a lecturer in Hispanic studies at the University of Glasgow, began his research on censorship in translated works under Francisco Franco’s dictatorial regime in Spain (1939-1975), his findings took an unexpected turn. “It was a total surprise,” Cornella told Freemuse, explaining his discovery that literary works that had been censored […]

Israel: Palestinian authorities ban book, issue arrest warrant for writer

Palestinian authorities have banned Abbad Yahya’s latest novel ‘Crime in Ramallah’ for “indecency”, confiscated copies of the novel from bookstores and issued an arrest warrant for the writer, who is currently in Qatar on business and afraid of going back home, reported Al Jazeera on 10 February 2017. “I don’t know what to do. If […]

Libya: Authorities confiscate truckload of books

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

Israel: Palestinian writer arrested and detained

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

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Turkey: The Freemuse Files on Censorship of the Arts

For almost 20 years, Freemuse has documented violations on freedom of musical expressions and since 2012 also violations on other art forms in Turkey. ‘Turkey – The Freemuse Files’ is the first in a series of Freemuse compilations. The idea is to provide our readers, network partners and policy makers with an easy, quick overview […]

Sweden: New report examines threats against commissioners of art

Art galleries, publishers, libraries, museums and other promoters and curators of art, along with their staff, like artists, are also victims of attack for showing or making art available to the public and audiences, a new report by the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy published 30 November 2016 revealed. The report, ‘Custodians or guards? Commissioning […]

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. […]

Poland: Creative freedom undermined in cultural revolution

Every government has the right to conduct its own cultural policy and to determine its own priorities and strategies. But what has been happening in Polish culture since the nationalist-Catholic rightwing ‘Law and Justice’ Party (PiS) took power in the autumn of 2015 has not been a normal democratic correction. It has instead been a […]

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 […]

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: 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Turkey: Recent reports paint grim picture for artistic freedom

Over the last two years, Turkey has remained in the top five of worst countries that violate artistic freedom according to Freemuse’s annual statistics. Though Turkey agreed to hundreds of recommendations in 2015 made by the United Nations Human Rights Councils, it is difficult to see where and how authorities have changed the landscape of the […]

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 […]

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’, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Oman: Writer and filmmaker released from detention

Renowned Omani writer, filmmaker and intellectual Abdullah Habib has been released from detention on 4 May 2016, reported Pen International. Habib, 52, was summoned to the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in Muscat on 15 April 2016, where he remained in solitary confinement for 20 days without charges against him. It is […]

Azerbaijan: Prosecuted writer faces further charges

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

Oman: Writer and filmmaker arrested and detained

Author, poet and film-maker Abdullah Habib has been arrested in Oman. It is being assumed that he was arrested due to one of his post on Facebook, but no one really knows for sure. On the evening of 15 April 2016, the Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) summoned Habib to appear for investigation before the […]

Sweden: New report calls threat to art a threat to democracy

One out of three Swedish writers and visual artists have been exposed to threats, harassment, violence or vandalism, revealed a new report, ‘Culture under threat?’, published 14 April 2016 by Kulturanalys, the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy. “The extent of this is so great that it must be seen as a real problem,” the agency’s […]

Azerbaijan: Writer detained at airport

Police detained writer Akram Aylisli for 11 hours at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev Airport, preventing him from traveling to a literary festival in Venice, Italy at which he was scheduled to appear, reported Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on 30 March 2016. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Interior reported that Aylisli was held in connection with a […]

Qatar: Poet Mohammed al-Ajami released from prison

The government of Qatar has released poet Mohammed al-Ajami after four years imprisonment when Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani unexpectedly pardoned the poet, U.S.-based non-profit Freedom Now reported on 16 March 2016. The case brought significant international attention to the poet and the Qatari government from several international human rights NGOs, including Freemuse, and […]

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 […]

Brazil: Poet censored in Bahia

A billboard displaying Livia Natalia’s ‘Quadrilha’ poem, in the city of Itabuna in southern Bahia, was taken down after four days due to its portrayal of a black character killed by military police; the billboard was originally approved to stay up for two months, Brazilian newspaper Globo reported on 21 January 2016. The billboard received […]

Iran: Two poets flee due to censorship and imprisonment

Iranian poets and song-writers Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, who were sentenced to 11.5 and nine years in prison respectively, and 99 lashes each, have fled their native Iran some time in February 2016 while their cases were still pending, reported Huffington Post. In an interview with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty published on […]

Saudi Arabia: Poet’s death sentence changed to imprisonment and lashing

According to PEN International, a Saudi Arabian court changed the sentencing for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh from a death sentence to an eight-year prison term and 800 lashes on 2 February 2016. In November 2015, Fayadh was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam; however, after his lawyer argued that the poet was denied a fair […]

Nigeria: Award-winning poet imprisoned over defamation charges

The Nigerian poet, journalist and culture activist Nengi Josef Owei Ilagha was arrested on 14 December 2015 in Okirika, Rivers state, in Nigeria. He is held in detention over charges for contempt of court and defamation of character. A High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the state capital of Rivers state, committed Nengi Ilagha to prison […]

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: 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 […]

Israel: Officials ban book on Jewish-Arab romance

Officials in Israel’s education ministry banned Dorit Rabinyan’s ‘Gader Haya’ (Borderlife) book from being taught in schools because the plot involving a mixed romantic relationship between an Israeli and Palestinian is perceived as “threatening”, newspaper The Telegraph reported. Ministry of Education officials who banned the book on 30 December 2015 said that “intimate relationships between […]

Iran: Poet/activist detained; released on bail

** Updated as of 13 January 2016 ** Poet and activist Hila Sedighi was arrested on 7 January 2016 at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport upon her and her husband’s return from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, reported the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Two days later, on 9 January 2016, […]

Iran: Detained poet released on bail

On 16 December 2015 Iranian poet Mohamadreza Haj Rostambegloo was arrested from his home by six Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization agents and was released on bail four days later from Karaj Central Prison, reported the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The poet ’ s mother Maryam Soltani told the organisation that one of the […]

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 […]

Iran: Detained writers released on bail

The two Iranian writers Rouzbeh Gilasian and Elaheh Sorooshnia, who were arrested on 14 December 2015, were released on bail from Amirabad Prison in Gorgan after three weeks in detention, according to Payvand Iran News quoting Radio Zamaneh. The writers were held primarily in the Revolutionary Guards detention centre and then transferred to Amirabad Prison […]

Iran: Two writers arrested

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

Sudan/Algeria: authorities ban novels at book fairs

Algeria: Authorities bans 100 books at international book fair 2015 The Algerian Censorship Authority was assigned to review books participating in the Algerian International Book Fair 2015 (29 October to 7 November 2015) and banned more than 100 books. The Censorship Authority stated that the books promote ideas which are “contradicting Algerian Government policy” in […]

Iran: Songwriter and poet arrested

Iranian songwriter and poet Yaghma Golrouee was arrested on 30 November 2015, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA). Details on the reason behind the arrest or where Golrouee was taken are still unknown and unclear. According to in 2013 one of Goulrouee’s poems was used by controversial Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi, who […]

Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist forced to take ‘virginity test’

Cartoonist Atena Farghadani, through a note leaked from prison, said she was forced to take a “virginity and pregnancy test” on 12 August 2015 prior to her trial on a charge of “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” for shaking her lawyer’s hand when he visited her in prison, Amnesty International reported. The human rights […]

Saudi Arabia: Poet sentenced to death

According to PEN International, Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death on 17 November 2015 by a Saudi Arabian court for renouncing Islam. Fayadh, 35, told The Guardian: “I was really shocked but it was expected, though I didn’t do anything that deserves death.” In August 2013, Fayadh was detained and released on bail […]

Myanmar/Burma: Poet arrested for posting ‘defamatory’ poem

According to PEN Myanmar, poet Maung Saung Kha was arrested on 5 November 2015 for defaming the president in a poem he posted on Facebook in early October 2015 in which a line said that he had a portrait of the president tattooed on his penis. The 23-year-old poet published the poem, ‘Image’, on 8 […]

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 […]

China: Publishers pledge to fight censorship

On 15 October 2015, twelve major US publishers have pledged to work together against Chinese censorship practices on works by foreign authors. The pledge comes after findings from a PEN May 2015 report, ‘Censorship and Conscience,’ showing that upon translation, books by foreign authors were censored, often without the knowledge of its authors or publishers. […]

USA: Michigan school bans novel from book fair

An elementary school in Michigan has banned the 12th novel in the ‘Captain Underpants’ series of books from its book fair due to a main character being gay, news station WXYZ reported. Dr Barry Martin, superintendent of Monroe Public Schools, explained that the publishing company, Scholastic, notified the school that one of their titles may […]

Indonesia: Cultural festival censored

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, one of South-East Asia’s biggest cultural and literary events, running from 28 October to 1 November 2015, has been forced by local authorities to cancel some of its key programs. The censorship is unprecedented in the 12-year history of the festival, reported Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax Media, Jewel Topsfield. […]

Qatar: UN experts call for release of Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami

United Nations human rights experts called for the release of the Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami on the second anniversary of his prison sentencing, 20 October 2015. Al-Ajami is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Doha for the contents of his poetry. David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Farida Shaheed, the […]

Malaysia: Court rules in favour of religious book-banning

Rather than protecting writers’ and publishers’ constitutional right to freedom of artistic expression, a Federal Court in Malaysia has made a principal decision to favour Islamic laws that protect ‘the sanctity of Islam’. ZI Publications and its director, Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid, had challenged a Selangor religious enactment that they claim restricts freedom of expression by […]

Iran: Two poets sentenced to flogging and lengthy imprisonment

Iranian poets and song-writers Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi have been sentenced to 11.5 and nine years in prison respectively, as well as 99 lashes each.   According to an interview with their lawyer on Radio Farda, both Ekhtesari and Moosavi were convicted of ‘insulting the holy sanctities’, for which they received seven and six […]

Syria: Cartoonist killed under torture

After two years of silence, it has reportedly now been confirmed that the Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan died in 2013 under torture in a detention centre, only a few months after his arrest. During two years, rumours have circulated about the death of the 35-year-old Syrian cartoonist. In September 2015, these rumours were allegedly confirmed […]

Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist possibly prosecuted over handshake

Amnesty International reported that Atena Farghadani, 29, who was was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison after she depicted Iranian government officials as monkeys and goats in a satirical cartoon, may face a longer sentence amid claims over a handshake: her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi visited her in prison and shook her hand […]

New Zealand: Teenage novel banned after outcry from religious group

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

Qatar: Joint call to United Nations to help imprisoned poet

16 non-governmental organisations have sent a joint letter to UN Special Rapporteurs on the imprisoned Qatari poet Mohammed al-Ajami On the commencement of the 30th session of the Human Rights Council, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), along with 15 international NGOs, including Freemuse, sent a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur […]

Bangladesh: Three poets get death threats

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

USA: Literary censorship debate over two books

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

USA: 14 ‘undone’ books on growing ‘Forbidden Bookshelf’

“Even though the First Amendment protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press, government authorities and other powerful interests still find ways to suppress the truth,” wrote Kit O’Connell in an article published by Mint Press News on 29 June 2015 The article lists highlights from the strong>‘Forbidden Bookshelf’ collection with an explanation of […]

Turkey: Opposing views perceived as insult

New report on publishing in Turkey reveals hard line state policy Turkey is going through a time in history whereby the concept of ‘criticism’ has lost its substance,” according to a new report from Turkish Publishers Association. The report sums up that “any opinion opposing the views and positions of the politically powerful and not […]

Iran: Call for the release of imprisoned writer and film producer

Writer and film producer Mostafa Azizi was arrested on 1 February 2015 and convicted of national security-related offences by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran and sentenced to eight years in prison. PEN International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. 52-year-old Iranian writer and film producer Mostafa Azizi is feared to […]

Turkey: ‘Organisation propaganda’ charge against children’s books

An investigation was opened against 24 books published by Aram Publishing within the last year with reasons of “organisation propaganda” and “recruiting members for an organisation,” according to the 15 May 2015 issue of the weekly Freedom of Expression bulletin from Turkish Initiative for Freedom of Expression. A case was opened by Diyarbakir 5th High […]

Russia: Graphic novel about Holocaust banned for its cover

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

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. […]

Malaysia: ‘Fifty Shades’ books banned

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

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

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

Iraq: UNESCO alarmed over mass destruction of books in Mosul

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

Eritrea: Writers and poets unexpectedly released from prison

Six writers have been released after six years’ arbitrary detention, reported PEN International, a global organisation of writers which campaigns for freedom of expression and an end to persecution of their fellow writers. Four of the six released writers – Negusse, Misghina, Teferi and Fisseha – had been adopted as ‘main cases’ by PEN International. […]

Norway: World women gathering to explore freedom of expression

On 30-31 January 2015, an unusual gathering of world women will unfold over two days of conversations and performances at Riksscenen in Oslo, Norway. The summit is organised by artist and activist Deeyah Khan. ‘World Woman’ is “a convening of courageous and creative women who are defenders of freedom of expression, campaigners for gender equality, […]

After the Charlie Hebdo attack: Critical moment for artistic expression

In light of the events in France in January 2015, where the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was brutally attacked, numerous articles have been published about artistic expression and arts freedom. Here is a small selection of articles that touch on the issues of artistic freedom of expression. Walking the tightrope between art and politics Cressida […]

India: Author gives up writing after book burning protests

Four years after its publication, Perumal Murugan’s novel ‘Madhorubhagan’ (‘One Part Woman’) has come under attack for blasphemy from religious and political groups. In December 2014, the right-wing Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, “National Volunteers’ Organisation”) burnt copies of the book, demanding the arrest of both the author and the publisher, and that […]

India: Writer faces death threats and book burning

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

China: Writers arrested in new wave of repression, alerts PEN International

PEN International has joined PEN American Center and the Independent Chinese PEN Center in expressing alarm over a new wave of arrests of writers, journalists, publishers and civil society activists in China in recent weeks, apparently for their public support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. PEN International reported that four prominent intellectuals were […]

Norwegian PEN publishes report about freedom of expression in Turkey

The Norwegian PEN has published a special report titled ‘Turkey: Free Expression Under a Shadow’. In the 60-page report, data and information related to violations of freedom of expression, the effects of the judicial system and the law on freedom of expression, self-censorship, the pressure on press, hate speech and freedom of religion and conscience […]

PEN International: Day of the Imprisoned Writer

15 November 2014 marks the 33rd anniversary of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. PEN International launched the first Day of the Imprisoned Writer in 1981, with the aim of focusing much-needed global attention on imprisoned, murdered or otherwise harassed writers. Since then, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer has become a key campaigning event […]

USA reportedly excludes artists and writers with Arab names

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

US fails to protect the human right to read, says report

In a submission to the United Nations, Freemuse and NCAC document violations of freedom of information and expression in public schools, jails, and prisons in the USA. In a new report to the United Nations assessing the United States’ compliance with its human rights obligations, Freemuse and USA-based NCAC, the National Coalition Against Censorship, argue […]

China: Arts and social media increasingly restricted

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

USA: Events around banned books, censored theatre and hate speech

On 21 August 2014, the National Coalition Against Censorship published the following newsletter with information about a series of interesting, upcoming events in New York City on free speech, banned books, censored theatre and hate speech: COMEDY, CONVERSATION AND CONTROVERSY: LEWIS BLACK, KATE CLINTON AND LIZZ WINSTEAD Monday, 8 September 2014, 7pm @ 92nd Street […]

USA: Literature and censorship – the biggest challenge is apathy

The American organisation National Coalition Against Censorship writes: “For nearly as long as the written word has existed, it has been a target for censorship. (…) The difference between the book bans of yesteryear and the battle against censorship today is that, with vigilance, we have the power to stand up to censorship and defend the […]

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

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

Iran: Security forces shut down poet’s commemoration

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

Kazakhstan: Poet beaten in prison – call to action by PEN International

The imprisoned poet Aron Atabek – who is in ill health – has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated by prison guards. According to the poet’s son, Atabek has suffered regular beatings on the head and neck during his incarceration in Pavlodar prison. This was reported by PEN International. There is an absolute prohibition on the […]

Singapore: Writers boycott National Library Board

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

India: Fundamentals of censorship allegedly ‘skewed and misused’

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

Nepal: Forms and evolution of censorship

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

Apple Bookstore bans book for ‘inappropriate cover art’

Tijuana Baby, a novel by author Robert Haukoos from Moonshine Cove Publishing, has been banned from the Apple iBooks store for ‘inappropriate cover art’., Barnes and Noble, Abe Books, Book Depository, Valore Books and many other U.S. retailers are offering the book for sale with the original cover. Blackwell in the U.K., and Amazon […]

Israel: Supreme Court book ban a harsh blow to artistic freedom of expression

In a ruling handed down in April 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a writer’s appeal of a district court decision, which included a ban against the publication and distribution of his novel. In effect, the court ordered that the book be shelved, after it had already been published, printed and even sold in hundreds […]

Russia: Law bans swearing in arts

Russia’s predident Vladimir Putin has signed a new censorship bill into law, which means that artists and filmmakers in the country soon may find themselves in trouble for using profanity in “literature and arts, mass media products, at concerts, theatrical performances, entertaining events, as well as in films.” The law is expected to take effect […]

Iran: Censored writer publish novel on Facebook

After trying and failing for years to obtain a publishing license for his novel, Iranian writer and journalist Mohammad Motlagh finally had enough. Instead of taking the Culture Ministry’s no for answer, on April 28, Motlagh began posting his novel – one chapter at a time – on Facebook. In Iran, all books have to […]

China: Renewed crackdown on writers | PEN International

Five prominent dissident writers have been arrested for taking part in events to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy protests, reported PEN International.     On 4 and 5 May 2014, some of the participants at a memorial on 3 May were taken in for questioning by police. Most […]

France/USA: End to Apple’s corporate censorship of French book

The digital edition of the book ‘La Femme’ has now been given a place in the Apple Store despite the fact that its cover has a topless woman. Almost a year after the book’s release, Apple first published and then censored the digital edition of the book in its Apple Store, iBooks, because of the […]

China: Australian novelist refuses to bow to censorship demands

Australian thriller writer LA (Louisa) Larkin has refused to bow to censorship demands from Chinese printers, instead withdrawing her work from a Reader’s Digest anthology, reported Sydney Morning Herald. LA Larkin’s book, ‘Thirst’, was being produced in China when the printers downed tools, insisting references to “Falun Gong” and “torture” be removed. Larkin said her […]

Malaysia: Comic book banned for translating the word God as Allah

Malaysia has banned a translation of a comic book with the popular Japanese superhero Ultraman after it used the word “Allah” to describe Ultraman. The Home Ministry said in a statement that the Malay-edition of ‘Ultraman, The Ultra Power’ contained elements that can undermine public security and societal morals. » Global Voices – 15 March 2014: […]

Turkey: World writers call on Turkey to respect freedom of expression

Leading writers from Turkey and around the world have joined PEN, the international association of writers, to call on the Turkish authorities to respect freedom of expression as a universal and fundamental human right, and to create an environment in which all citizens are able to express themselves freely without fear of censorship or punishment. […]

Vietnam: Two writers released on amnesty, one remains imprisoned

PEN International reported that the two writers and activists Dinh Dang Dinh and Nguyen Huu Cau were released under an amnesty, while poet, essayist and scholar Nguyen Van Ly remains imprisoned. Writer and activist Nguyen Huu Cau and blogger and environmental activist Dinh Dang Dinh were released from prison on 21 March 2014 under an […]

Mexico and Honduras: Writers have no freedom of expression

Corruption; the control of the media; impunity; censorship and its counterpart self-censorship; the role and responsibilities of a writer as citizen; and the vital importance that freedom of expression plays in challenging the status quo. At ‘Free The Word!’, an event held on 30 January 2014 at Hay Festival Cartagena, writers and journalists from across […]

Saudi Arabia: Ban of popular Islamic cartoon

Saudi Arabia has officially banned the internationally popular cartoon featuring Islamic heroes, The 99. The comic book series based on characters that each personify one of the 99 qualities that the Koran attributes to God has for years been successful, particularly in the Gulf, and has received the backing of Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasar […]

France/USA: French novel falls foul of Apple’s breast inspectors

French publishing house Les Editions des Equateurs is protesting that Apple has declined to to carry its novel ‘La Femme’ online due to an excessively jubular cover. Bénédicte Martin’s book was released on 20 March 2014, but won’t be available via the fruity monolith due to an “inappropriate” image of a topless woman blended with […]

Turkey: Report about freedom of expression violations

In the aftermath of a brutal government crackdown on dissent during the Gezi Park protests, PEN has prepared a report highlighting some of the issues raised by the nationwide protest movement ‘The Gezi Park Protests: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey’ is a joint report published by English PEN and PEN International. In […]

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, […]

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 […]

Saudi Arabia: 420 books banned at Riyadh International Book Fair

Saudi authorities have banned 420 books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish, as part of a crackdown on publications deemed threatening to the conservative kingdom. The local Okaz daily reported Sunday that organisers at the Riyadh International Book Fair had confiscated “more than 10,000 copies of 420 books” during the exhibition. A few […]

India: Publishers under pressure to withdraw contentious books

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

India: Publisher agrees to destroy book about hindu religion

Penguin Books India has said that it will destroy all available copies of the 2009-book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ as part of an out of court settlement, reported The Guardian The book ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ written by Indologist Wendy Doniger takes a so-called “unorthodox view” of Hinduism. The out of court settlement […]

Iran: Poet executed

Relatives of poet Hashem Shaabani were reportedly told on 29 January 2014 that he had been executed by hanging “three or four days before”. Hashem Shaabani Nejad (also spelled: Sha’baninejad or Sha’bani-Nejad), a 32-year-old father of one child, was allegedly executed alongside fellow teacher Hadi Rashedi after conviction of “enmity against God”, “corruption on earth”, […]

Cameroon: Poetry collection to raise funds for imprisoned poet

English PEN has launched a print-on-demand version of Enoh Meyomesse’s poetry collection, ‘Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison’, to help raise much-needed funds for the imprisoned activist and poet Cameroonian activist and poet Enoh Meyomesse’s most recent appeal hearing, scheduled for 16 January 2014, was postponed. This is the seventh time that this has happened […]

Ethiopia: Book about censorship of arts in the Ethiopian society

‘Maekeb’, which means ‘Sanction’, is a new book by Endalegeta Kebede. It focuses on the censorship challenges experienced by creative members of Ethiopian society. The Reporter in Addis Abeba and the global website published a review of the book, written by Neamin Ashenafi, on 8 February 2014. Excerpts: In countries like Ethiopia, where democracy […]

Tajikistan: Book manuscript confiscated

Tajikistan appears to be cracking down on the freedoms of speech and thought, and intellectuals find little room for reasoned discourse, reported on 28 January 2014. In July 2013, authorities in Tajikistan confiscated the only manuscript of a little-known novelist’s latest book. The author, Pulod Abuev, 69, later appealed to representatives of the feared State Committee […]

Iran: Writers association criticizes state pressure

Iran’s Writers Association says security officials have prevented the group from holding its monthly advisory meeting. In a recently issued statement, the group says the meeting was due to be held on January 14 at the home of one of the members. But according to the statement, a few days before the scheduled meeting, the […]

China: Authorities tightens regulations for books and online films

Chinese authorities are requiring makers of online films to gain licenses and report their content before it is posted, tightening regulation of what in recent years has been a more freewheeling genre than China’s traditional film industry. China’s online video sites have provided an accessible platform for filmmakers of all kinds to post their work, […]

Saudi Arabia: Palestinian poet jailed for ‘atheism and long hair’

Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh is in a Saudi prison, allegedly for spreading atheism – and having long hair, Mona Kareem reported for Global Voices. Fayadh’s case is making the rounds in media and on social networks, with condemnations coming from Arab writers and artists from across the region. Some of his friends wrote online that […]

Iran: Freemuse and PEN welcomes release of poets on bail

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

Iran: Freemuse and PEN protest arrest of poets

PEN International and Freemuse protest the arrest of poets and lyricists Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, who have been held in Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin prison since 7 December 2013, apparently for their critical writings. They are feared to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment and there are mounting concerns for their well-being. […]

Iran: Two songwriters and poets arrested

On 7 December 2013 the two Iranian lyricists and poets Dr. Mehdi Moosavi and Fateme Ekhtesari were arrested by the Security Department of Iran Revolutionary Guards. It is generally believed that they were arrested maybe because of their lyrics which have been performed by a famous Iranian singer in exile, Shahin Najafi. Many of their […]

Qatar: Booksellers face book-by-book censorship bottleneck

All books submitted for sale in Qatar must been approved by the Ministry of Culture even if the same book has already been approved for another retailer, reports Edward Nawotka from the 24th Doha International Book Fair. A good deal of self-censorship alos takes place, with buyers not even taking something in the first place […]

Iran: Work of homosexual writer and poet blacklisted

The words by the Iranian writer and poet Payam Feili are banned by the Iranian authorities. He is a homosexual writer and poet whose works are condemned in Iran due to his sexual orientation. With disregard for content or style, they have completely blacklisted his works. Nogaam, an online publisher freely distributing the work of […]

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 […]

India: Threats to artistic freedom of expression

In India at the moment there are heated discussions, friction, clashes, court cases and rows over where limits to freedom of expression in the arts should be drawn or removed, often due to religious sentiments.   Recent incidents for example are an art exhibition being closed down, a film screening being stopped by the police, […]

China: Tibetan writer sentenced to five years in prison

Topden, a 30-year-old nomad and a writer who writes under the pseudonym Dro Ghang Gah was arrested on 28 October 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison on 30 November 2013, reported the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Allegedly Topden was imprisoned for “keeping contacts with Dalai clique and for engaging in […]

Saudi Arabia: Popular sci-fi novel banned

A top selling Saudi Arabian science fiction novel has been removed from book shops across the country. On 26 November 2013 representatives from the country’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — the Haya’a — raided several bookshops selling the novel ‘H W J N’ by Ibraheem Abbas and Yasser Bahjatt’s, […]

China: Freedom of expression in perilous state | PEN International

Freedom of expression in China remains in a perilous state, PEN International said today, as China appeared before the UN Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights record. Dozens of writers, journalists and bloggers remain in prison simply for peacefully expressing their views, many serving harsh prison sentences, the […]

Iran: Literature, censorship and signs of change

"Iran’s literature is wounded, but it still has blood, and in its blood lies a secret" writes Shahriar Mandanipour, one of the most accomplished writers of contemporary Iranian literature, in a piece about Iranian literature and censorship. The effects of censorship on contemporary Iranian literature are widespread: Because of censorship, which at times functions shrewdly […]

Denmark: Poet’s event going forward despite police concerns

Odense Council reverses course and decides to move ahead with Yahya Hassan’s poetry reading and discussion despite threats of violence and chaos Poet Yahya Hassan will be speaking Tuesday in the troubled Odense suburb of Vollsmose after all. The debate and event with the young poet Yahya Hassan had first been announced cancelled due to […]

Denmark: Police threat assessment stops event with young poet

A debate and event with the young poet Yahya Hassan was cancelled due to a threat assessment by the police on 21 November 2013. 18-year-old Yahya Hassan of Palestinian decent is under police protection after being violently attacked and receiving death threats following the publication of his collection of 150 poems, which criticizes the Danish […]

Denmark: Hippie book author accuses Facebook of hypocrisy

A debate about online freedom of speech was held in Copenhagen on 14 November 2013, following the decision by Apple to not carry a Danish book about 1970s hippie culture because it contained nudity. Facebook also threatened to ban its author, Peter Øvig Knudsen, after he posted content from the book that depicted nudity on his Facebook […]

Denmark: Young poet assaulted for ‘infidelity’

The young and nationally renowned Danish poet Yahya Hassan was beaten numerous times in the face and called an infidel. The incident happened at Copenhagen’s central railway station at 6pm on 18 November 2013 where Yahya Hassan had been waiting on a platform. Police arrived shortly after and arrested the person who was identified as […]

Qatar: Poet’s 15 year prison sentence upheld

Qatar’s Supreme Court last month upheld a 15-year prison sentence handed to poet Mohammed Al-Ajami for reciting a poem in support of the Arab uprisings on Youtube. The was reported by The Art Newspaper on 7 November 2013. Al-Ajami, 37, a married father of four children, was a third-year literature student at Cairo University when […]



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