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 […]

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 […]

China: Actor fired from film for “vague” Taiwan stance

Taiwanese actor Leon Dai, who played the lead character in Chinese romance ‘No Other Love’, was fired from the film for his alleged support of Taiwanese independence, reported Variety on 15 July 2016. In a statement, the film’s director Zhao Wei and investors apologised “for hiring the wrong person” and stated they were not “satisfied” […]

Australia: Distributors force art magazine to censor cover

The August 2016 issue of Australian arts magazine featuring a painting of a pregnant, nude woman by well-known, New York-based artist Lisa Yuskavage has been censored at newsstands after distributors forced editors to either package the issue in an opaque sleeve or cover up the nipples of the subject, reported Australia’s ABC on 9 August […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Egypt: Radio station bans mahraganat song

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

Turkey: Actress’ contract cancelled over interview comments

Actress Füsun Demirel was removed from the cast of tv-series ‘The Family Business’ after saying in an interview with newspaper Cumhuriyet on 13 March 2016 that she would like to play a role related to the guerrilla girls, reported newspaper Radikal on 16 March 2016. Demirel’s comments were made when the newspaper asked her what […]

Egypt: Mahraganat artists challenge limits

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

China: Singers banned for nationalist statements and actions

Taiwanese-born singer Michael Huang’s songs and appearances on shows have been banned on Taiwanese media after he made critical comments against a teen pop star holding up the island’s flag during her appearance on a TV show, reported Now K Pop. On 8 January 2016 Huang posted a message on popular Chinese micro-blogging site Sina […]

Iran: Album by prominent musician denied distribution

Majid Derakhshani’s latest album ‘Khoroosh’ will not be distributed in Iran, reported Payvand Iran News. The album, which translates to ‘Roar’, is comprised of Derakhshani’s music sung by Mojtaba Asgari and was tied up in legal red tape for over two years before the denial was issued. Further, the Ministry of Guidance’s security department has […]

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 […]

Denmark: Toy manufacturer in freedom of speech row over art project

The world’s biggest toy manufacturer, the Danish company Lego, has been accused of oppressing free artistic expression after they declined to sell a large amount of lego bricks to the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was going to use them for what Lego defined as ‘political works’ at an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. Fans have […]

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

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

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 […]

Spain: Guggenheim Bilbao requests art work removed

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

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

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

UN study on the impact of advertising and marketing on cultural rights

The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, is launching a new study on the impact of advertising and marketing practices on cultural rights. The study takes a close-up look at the effect of advertising and marketing practices on cultural diversity and human rights. According to a press release from the […]

United Kingdom: Corporate censorship in public space

Artists Peter Kennard’s and Cat Phillips’ photomontage ‘Photo Op’ which depicts Tony Blair taking a selfportrait with his mobile phone was ‘banned’ from public display after the companies who own the advertising space, CBS Outdoor and JCDecaux, refused to allow the use the of the artwork in the advertising on any of their sites. This […]

Canada: Rock star blacklisted by radio station

In Canada, the radio station Rock 97.9 in Fort McMurray will no longer play Canadian rock star Neil Young’s music after he made remarks about the oil-rich Alberta area while talking about the controversial Keystone X-L Pipeline project at a conference in Washington, USA. “The Indians up there and the native peoples are dying. The […]

Myanmar/Burma: Corporate censorship is gaining control

Thangyat is a traditional form of entertainment performed for the New Year Thingyan Water Festival in Burma / Myanmar which takes place this week. Thangyat was banned by the military government after the uprising in 1988 but was kept alive in exile before being allowed back last year. But corporate censorship is now comfortably stepping […]

China: Apple censors Tibet book app

The app, ‘Jingdian Shucheng’, which offers access to ten books via the iPhone and iPad, has been removed from the App Store in China. Hao Peiqiang, the Beijing-based developer of the app, said Apple told him it had taken the step to censor it because it “includes content that is illegal in China”. According to […]

France: Art museum censored by Facebook for nude photograph

On 1 March 2013, the Jeu de Paume art museum’s Facebook account was blocked for 24 hours, following a decision by Facebook to remove a photograph the Parisian museum posted on its page and which the social network ruled was a violation of its Rights and Responsibilities guidelines. Facebook warned that next time it happens, […]

Denmark: Apple’s puritanical censorship creates a movement

“An international protest movement is under way that has had enough of Apple’s new-puritamism and negative cultural domination,” wrote journalist Morten Løkkegaard in Politiken on 8 February 2013. After a second Danish author, Michael Næsted Nielsen, was informed by Apple that his new book, ‘Slaven’ (‘The Slave’) is going to be censored from iBookstore because […]

USA: Climate change sculpture removed after upsetting donors

Does corporate sponsorships by companies like BP and Shell have an impact on artistic freedom in the UK and USA? After a controversial climate change art installation was removed from a US university campus because it upset donors from the energy industry, Kevin Smith, co-editor of Not If But When – Culture Beyond Oil, is […]

Denmark: Row over ban of theatre group’s burning flag

This photograph of a naked woman and a burning Danish flag was supposed to have been promoting a new production by the theatre group Danskdansk (‘Danishdanish’) in the capital of Copenhagen. But the advertisement agency Clear Channel did not want to see it displayed on the back of 18 Copenhagen buses, and the director of […]

iTunes: Apple troubled by women’s bodies

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

Apple’s iBookstore censorship case: The distinction between porn and art

The distinction between porn and art is often in the eye of the beholder, wrote John Brownlee,, in his comment on the latest censorship case of Apple’s iBookstore: When Danish author Peter Øvig Knudsen submitted his latest work of non-fiction, ‘Hippie 2’, to the iBookstore, the e-book was rejected based upon the fact that […]

Uganda: Commission bans song for being critical of City Authority Director

The Uganda Communication Commission denied Bobi Wine’s song ‘Tugambire ku Jennifier’ airplay in Ugandan radio and tv because the body received complaints from several people about that it is abusive. The Human Rights Network for Journalists called on the Uganda Communication Commission to cancel the ban. In the song, Bobi Wine (real name: Sentamu Kyagulanyi) […]

USA: Cartoon strip about abortion law removed by newspapers

A Doonesbury cartoon strip about Texas abortion law has been removed by an increasing number of American newspapers Garry Trudeau, whose satirical cartoon strip Doonesbury has been published by hundreds of newspapers around the word for decades, met unprecedented controversy after he planned to dedicate a week’s worth of strips to a satirical look at […]

Malaysia: Book banned after pressure from religious group

Human rights organisations and journalist unions criticise the Malaysian government’s decision to ban a book on liberal Islam by the Canadian Muslim activist Irshad Manji. On 29 May 2012, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein banned Irshad Manji’s new book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’, saying it was “prejudicial to morality and public order.” Deputy Home […]

China: Literary magazine stopped after one issue

When 28-year-old Chinese author Han Han  launched the literary magazine Dangzhongyang, its first edition sold all 1.5 million copies. But it had a short life. The publishing partners fell off and he now writes on his blog – which has a readership of about 300 million people – that there will never be a number […]



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