Tunisia: Imams call for removal of play poster

‘Alhakumu At-Takathur’ (Miscarriage) play director Nejib Khalfallah was forced to censor the play’s poster after being verbally attacked by Islamists and conservatives for using part of a Qur’anic verse in the title, reported The Arab Weekly on 26 February 2017. On 16 February, Tunisian National Theatre (TNT) received a warning from the National Union Council […]

India: Two female singers threatened by radicals and clerics

As many as 46 clerics and Islamic organisations in the north-eastern state of Assam issued a fatwa banning teen female singer Nahid Afrin from singing at a musical show on 25 March. The fatwa comes just days after reports revealed that another female singer, Suhana Syed, has been receiving threats from radical Islamists for singing […]

Kuwait/Lebanon/UAE: Countries ban Egyptian film over religious concerns

Egyptian film ‘Mawlana’ (Preacher) has been banned in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon over backlash from religious clerics ami fears it could “incite sectarian strife”, reported Arab Times Online, An-Nahar and Al Bawaba in February 2017. Lebanese censors objected to 12 minutes of the film, saying it “could incite sectarian strife and provoke […]

Lebanon: Religious believer blacked out of film

Lebanese-French filmmaker Philippe Aractingi expected his latest film ‘Ismaii’ (Listen) to be censored due to some sex scenes in the film, however only one scene in the film was censored by covering a Druze cleric with a black mark, reported French news outlet Courrier International on 8 February 2017. Though the film received approval from […]

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 […]

Saudi Arabia: Music video and government initiatives split society

A music video entitled ‘Hwages’, which loosely translates to “concerns”, featuring a trio of veiled female artists with colourful clothing underneath, playing together and singing about the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia has not only gone viral, but has also divided the country, reported The Independent on 5 January 2017. The women, while they […]

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, […]

United Kingdom: Paintings stolen and vandalised; death threats received

Artist Russell Haines and members of the clergy of Gloucester Cathedral received anonymous death threats and accusations of blasphemy after several of Haines’ paintings, which were part of an exhibition held in the cathedral portraying people from a wide range of religious beliefs, were stolen or vandalised, reported The Guardian on 12 February 2017. Haines […]

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 […]

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 […]

Pakistan: Scores killed during devotional activities at Sufi shrine

At least 88 people have been killed, and hundreds more injured, on 16 February 2017 after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a crowded Sufi shrine in Sehwan, a town in the southern province in Sindh, reported The Guardian on 17 February 2017. “The explosion took place when a large number of people were […]

India: Mural erased from festival after far-right group’s protest

On 26 December 2016, the last day of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s (IIT-B) Mood Indigo cultural festival, dozens of protestors from far-right political party Shiv Sena entered the campus and demanded a mural depicting a modern version of Hindu god Hanuman be erased from the wall, reported The Indian Express on 26 December […]

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 […]

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 […]

Bolivia: Feminist mural criticising church and state censored

On 12 October 2016, a group of unidentified people painted over a mural just one day after it had been finished and displayed on the façade of the Museo Nacional de Arte (National Art Museum) in La Paz, Bolivia, because the group was strongly offended by its negative and graphic portrayal of two core Bolivian […]

Lebanon: Backlash mounts after psychedelic music festival

The Hexaplex psychedelic music festival held from 1-4 September 2016 at a camping site in Chahtoul, Lebanon, 35 kilometres north of capital Beirut, has been receiving backlash from the local Christian community, politicians and general public who claim festivalgoers participated in acts contrary to their religious, cultural and social norms and values, including the use […]

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, […]

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 […]

USA: Christian music festival drops band due to gay singer

Christian band Everyday Sunday was dropped from northern California Christian music festival Joshua Fest as 11 production staff threatened to walk out if the recently out lead singer of the band, Trey Pearson, took the stage, reported Billboard on 12 September 2016. Joshua Fest owner Aaron Diello said that his production manager told him that out […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: 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 […]

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 […]

Pakistan: Famed Sufi singer killed in drive-by shooting

Freemuse calls for counter narratives to religious extremism On 22 June 2016, one of Pakistan’s most famous singers Amjad Sabri died in the port town of Karachi after two gunmen on a motorbike shot the singer in his car just a kilometre after leaving his home. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killing, reported […]

Turkey: Music fans attacked at Radiohead store event

Music fans enjoying a special worldwide release event on 17 June 2016 for rock band Radiohead’s latest album at record store Velvet Indieground in the Cihangir district of Istanbul were attacked by a mob of about 20 men who took offense to people listening to music and drinking alcohol during Ramadan, reported The Guardian 18 […]

USA: Threats to cut museum funding over “blasphemous” paintings

Ben Loyola, a member of the Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, and one other member, have threatened to cut funding to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) over an exhibition featuring two Mark Ryden paintings Loyola deems to be “very anti-Christian” and “anti-Catholic”, reported local tv news WAVY-TV on 13 May 2016. Loyola, […]

India: Film survives censor board controversy after court ruling

Controversial film ‘Udta Punjab’ (‘Flying Punjab’), which depicts drug use in the northern Indian state of Punjab, will be released on 17 June 2016 with only one cut, ruled the Bombay High Court, after it had been embroiled in a fight over censorship in which the national censorship board called for up to 94 cuts […]

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 […]

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 […]

Georgia: Conservative religious group disrupts rock festival

A group of priests and conservative Orthodox Christian activists attempted to violently shut down the annual Tbilisi JAM Fest, a two-day, open-air international rock festival on the outskirts of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, reported Georgia Today on 5 June 2016. The group showed up at the festival location on 4 June 2016 in the Zahesi suburbs […]

Turkey: Local man smashes “obscene” sculpture

A wooden sculpture by Amancio Gonzalez Andres entitled ‘Musician’ featured at the Izmirspor metro station in western Turkey was smashed by a local man who called the statue “obscene”, Hurriyet News reported on 27 May 2016. Sculptor Andres told Birgün newspaper on 27 May 2016 he condemned the attack on his art piece and that […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Jordan: Rock concert banned for “contradicting” religious beliefs

The Jordanian Ministry of Interior has confirmed that it banned Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila from performing their concert set to take place on 29 April 2016 at the Roman Theatre in the country’s capital of Amman, reported CNN Arabic on 27 April 2016. The popular band, whose music has been called the “soundtrack to […]

China: American pop star tour dates cancelled

Chinese authorities have allegedly banned US pop star Selena Gomez from performing two dates in the country on her Revival Tour due to photos of her with the Dalai Lama posted on her social media profiles in 2014, reported The New Zealand Herald on 20 April 2016. The singer was set to play in Guangzhou […]

Iran: Banned music legend may sing again

Mohammed Reza Shajarian has been known as Iran’s “king of singing” for his renditions of classical poems and religious prayers; however, since he publicly supported the Green Movement against Ahmadinejad in June 2009, Shajarian found himself the victim of a nation-wide ban, unable to perform live or release music. Now, at 76, Shajarian has announced, […]

Jordan: Concert by Israeli musician in Wadi Rum cancelled

Israeli musician Nadav Dagon cancelled his appearance at a three-day music festival scheduled from 7-9 April 2016 in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert after outcry against the performance surfaced on social media, reaching several parts of Jordan’s society and political groups, reported The Jerusalem Post on 4 April 2016. A group of members of parliament signed a […]

India: Censor board bans own member’s movie

The examining committee of India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) denied certification to controversial film ‘Mohalla Assi’ directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, himself a member of the CBFC, after it “evoked extreme reactions” from some members, reported Mumbai Mirror on 8 April 2016. The film, based on a well-known novel, features profanity and blasphemy […]

Nigeria: Filmmakers in court over “unauthorised” movie release

Three filmmakers were summoned to the Kano State Censorship Board’s mobile court on 6 April 2016 in north-western Nigeria for the “unauthorised” release of their latest film ‘Ana Wata Ga Wata’, which was earlier banned by the board, reported newspaper Daily Trust on 6 April 2016. The three filmmakers include the film’s director Ali Gumzak, […]

Indonesia: West Aceh bans outdoor concerts

The regency of West Aceh has banned all outdoor concerts based on a recommendation from a group of Muslim scholars trained in Shari’a law, reported The Sydney Morning Herald on 7 April 2016. Ulema, the body of scholars, believed that outdoor concerts had “more disadvantages than advantages”, leading West Aceh regent Teuku Alaidinsyah to no […]

Pakistan: Two Bollywood films banned

In the continued practice of Pakistan banning the release of Indian-made films, ‘Ishq Forever’ and ‘Neerja’ are the two latest films that will not be given screen time in the country, according to multiple sources. Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) determined romantic drama ‘Ishq Forever’ to be “objectionable”, reported The Express Tribune on […]

Turkey: ‘Rocking imam’ blocked from singing in Portugal

Turkish imam and rock musician Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer has been denied permission to give a concert in Portugal by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, reported several news media on 1 March 2016. Known in Turkey as the “Rockin’ Imam”, Ahmet Muhsin is the imam in the town of Kas, a tiny hamlet on […]

Indonesia: “Effeminate” men banned from tv

According to a letter issued by the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission on 23 February 2016, male actors have been forbidden from behaving and dressing up as women on local tv, Indonesian news portal Jakarta Globe reported on 24 February 2016. The commission stated that the letter was circulated as a reminder of the 2012 Broadcasting Programme […]

Italy: Gay film banned from screening in church-owned cinemas

The Catholic Church has banned Andrew Haigh’s 2011 film ‘Weekend’ from being screened in its cinemas, shutting it out from over 1,100 theatres and limiting Italian audiences who wish to see the film to only be able to do is in 10 independent theatres, Gay Star News reported on 11 March 2016. The Italian Conference […]

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 […]

Mexico: Colombian painter censored in museum exhibition

The Museo Nacional de la Acuarela ‘Alfredo Guati Rojo’ in Mexico City has refused to display a painting by Colombian artist Darío Ortiz Robledo, considering it “too hard and offensive for some sensibilities”, due to its mix of nudity and religious symbols, reported Mexican newspaper La Jornada on 8 March 2016. In an interview with […]

Singapore: Madonna banned from performing sensitive song

The Media Development Authority (MDA), Singapore’s governmental media regulatory board, banned Madonna from performing her song ‘Holy Water’ in her 28 February 2016 show at the country’s National Stadium, reported The Straits Times on 7 January 2016. The MDA rated the concert R18, meaning only those 18 years of age or older can attend, for […]

USA: Jewish community theatre cancels play

The Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Centre in North Miami Beach, Florida chose to cancel the drama ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ after community members protested the anti-Jewish elements and “false paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict” they felt the play portrayed, reported newspaper South Florida Sun-Sentinel on 29 February 2016. “Please know that our intentions in presenting ‘Crossing Jerusalem’ are […]

Egypt: Fear of heavy metal returns

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

Zimbabwe: Comedy’s cautious climb

Zimbabwe’s nascent comedy scene is quickly spreading across the southern African nation, from its capitol’s urban landscape to other major cities; and growing in its diversity, from its humble beginnings in stand-up to news satire distributed via DVD. However, in its infancy, comedy in Zimbabwe still faces challenges as the topics it touches upon make […]

Iran: Filmmaker loses appeal, receives reduced prison sentence and lashes

An Iranian appeals court sentenced filmmaker Keywan Karimi to one year in prison, 223 lashes and a fine for “shaking hands with women and drinking alcoholic drinks”, Reuters reported on 22 February 2016. In an interview with The Times of India published on 23 February 2016, Karimi said he would serve out the sentence and […]

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 […]

Iran: Actress attacked at film screening

Fatemeh Motamed-Aria, one of Iran’s most famous actresses, was attacked by religious hardliners at a screening of her movie ‘Yahya Did Not Stay Silent’ on 29 January 2016, according to The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The actress joined the director and cast of the movie in Kashan, a city in the Isfahan […]

Iraq: Boy beheaded for listening to Western music

According to ARA News, Islamic State militants publicly executed a 15-year-old boy in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 16 February 2016 for listening to “Western music”. A spokesman for the Ninevah media centre told the news outlet that the boy, Ayham Hussein, was caught listening to pop music in his father’s grocery store […]

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 […]

Italy: Nude statues covered up for Iranian president

Classic nude statues were covered up in Rome’s Capitoline museum when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani walked through its halls during his Italy visit, reported The Guardian on 27 January 2016. Rouhani and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi held a press conference in the museum and it is supposed the statues were covered up so as […]

Lebanon: Sculptures spark suspicion of Satanism

Over 20 of Michel Elefteriades’ sculptures have been seized by Lebanese authorities on the grounds that they could be interpreted as Satanist symbols, reported online arts portal Hyperallergic on 21 January 2016. On 6 January 2016 police arrested a worker at the bronze factory that Elefteriades uses to cast his sculptures and then summoned the […]

Saudi Arabia: Festival stopped due to “swaying and dancing”

Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) in the Mayahel province stopped artist’s from performing music at a festival on two consecutive nights due to their dance movements on stage that were seen as improper for the audience, reported online newspaper Benaa.org on 11 January 2016. The head […]

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

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

Call on Iranian authorities to drop charges on two musicians and a filmmaker

Human rights organisations Freemuse and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with 14 other organisations, protest the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, and call on the head of the judiciary and other Iranian authorities to drop the charges against them. Mehdi […]

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 […]

Iran: Musicians call for lifting concert ban

A group of musicians and artists have written to the governor of the Razavi Khorosan province in northeastern Iran to remove the ban on music concerts in Mashhad, the province’s capital and the country’s second most populous city, reported Radio Zamaneh. The musicians and artists state in the letter that the current ban will lead to […]

France: Court rules Palme d’Or winner too offensive

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, ‘La Vie d’Adèle’ (‘Blue is the Warmest Color’), lost its French operating permission on 9 December 2015 when a Paris court ruled that the film contains “realistic sex scenes likely to offend the sensibilities of a young audience.” The lesbian love story which many […]

Egypt: Censorship Authority stirs controversy over attempted film bans

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

India: Police remove floating cow art and detain artists

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

India: Pakistani actors banned in Maharashtra state

The Hindu right-wing party Shiv Sena has now vowed to not allow two Pakistani actors to promote their films in Maharashtra state. This comes just a month after the same group cancelled two concerts by Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali. Fawad Khan, who has several Bollywood films set for production, and Mahira Khan, who is making […]

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 […]

United Kingdom: Painting sparks controversy in Northern Ireland

A painting in an exhibition at the Ulster Museum has drawn ire by the Orange Order, an international Protestant organisation based primarily in Northern Ireland, because they say members of their group are depicted wearing Ku Klux Klan garb, the British newspaper The Independent reported. The group lodged their complaint on 4 November 2015, which […]

Macedonia: Artists falling prey to censorship

Critics claim there is a growing trend in Macedonia that artists who explore controversial issues calling into question the state or church are being censored and are practising self-censorship, Balkan Insight reported. A recent case in 2014 involved an artist, Irena Paskali, who created a billboard asking why so many Macedonians accepted being double-billed for […]

Thailand: Banned movie re-cut and on screens

Previously banned, Thai-made horror film ‘Arbat’ is finally on screens as of 16 October 2015 after some of its controversial scenes were cut and the title was changed to ‘Apatti’ to appease a government screening committee decision.   In September 2015, the Ministry of Culture’s Film and Media Screening Committee deemed the movie portrayed monks […]

Iran: 26 popular singers banned from performing

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry banned 26 popular musicians and singers from performing in Iran after their music was aired by networks abroad, IranWire reported, citing an investigative piece from Etemad newspaper published on 19 October 2015. The head of the music department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance confirmed that letters were sent […]

India: Play demanded banned by Catholic church

The Catholic Church in India has demanded a ban on the play ‘Agnes of God’, an adaptation of American playwright John Pielmeier’s drama about a nun giving birth to a child. The church has alleged the play is a ‘wrongful portrayal’ of priests and nuns committed to a life of celibacy and hurts the sentiments […]

Thailand: Movie banned on religious grounds

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

India: Religious group issues fatwa against composer and director

A Muslim group in India has issued a fatwa against the Indian musician and composer A.R. Rahman and the Iranian film director Majid Majidi. A Sunni-Muslim group in Mumbai called the Raza Academy has issued the fatwa in protest against Majidi’s film ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’ – Iran’s most expensive ever movie with a $40 […]

United Kingdom: Theatre play addressing radicalisation cancelled

A play about Islamist radicalisation in British schools was canceled in August 2015 just two weeks before opening night, prompting speculation the actors, writers and developers had been censored. The play, ‘Homegrown’, was due to be performed by the National Youth Theatre at the UCL Academy in North London. It was developed using interviews with […]

Saudi Arabia: Comedian receives death threats over tv satire

The news that Saudi actor Nasser Al Qasabi (also spelled: Naser Al Gasabi) had received death threats after he made fun of the Islamic State fighters, ISIS, in one episode of his comedy series titled ‘Selfie’ went around the planet in June 2015. “Saudi comedian Nasser Al Qasabi has implemented the weapon of humor to […]

India: Film makers threatened to remove song from film

The makers of the film ‘Guddu Rangeela’ have reportedly been threatened by religious groups that if they don’t remove the song ‘Mata Ka Email’ from their film, they risk facing “dire consequences”, including disruptions at the theatres. In Ludhiana, there has been demonstrations demanding a ban to be put on the film, and posters of the film […]

Deeyah Khan: Build a sustainable alternative to the contorted worldview of extremists

Deeyah Khan is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director and producer, whose work highlights human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. On 1 June 2015, she published a blog post on Huffington Post’s UK website under the title ‘We Must Tackle Extremism Without Compromising Freedom of Speech’ In the piece, Deeyah Khan […]

Iran: Radical website calls for murder of musician

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

France: Artist finds coexisting hard in streets of Paris

On the night of 30-31 January 2015, French street artist Combo Culture Kidnapper was assaulted by four unidentified youth as he put up a wall painting bringing together the three symbols of monotheism. ‘Coexist’ depicts the Muslim crescent, the Jewish Star of David and the Christian cross – replacing the ‘c’, ‘x’ and ‘t’, respectively. It was […]

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

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

Russia: Theatre director fired for staging opera that offended church

Russia’s Ministry of Culture has fired the director and head of Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre for having staged a Wagner opera which offended Orthodox believers. “What some perceive as a sophisticated work of art was interpreted as offensive blasphemy by others. The production of ‘Tannhauser’ has exposed the sharp divisions within Russian society,” wrote Ivan Nechepurenko in The […]

Bahrain: Student and teachers charged with ‘insulting Islam’ over Qur’an song

A Bahraini high school student and two teachers have been charged with “insulting Islam” after the boy sang verses from the Qur’an accompanied by musical instruments, the official BNA news agency reported on 11 March 2015. The student is shown in the clip singing verses from Al Fatiha – The Opening – the first chapter […]

Syria: Video artists receive threats for ridiculing ISIS

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

Russia: Creators of ‘offensive’ Wagner opera acquitted

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

Denmark: Attack on public meeting about art, blasphemy and freedom of expression

A 55-year-old film director was killed and three police officers injured after an armed man opened fire inside the lobby of a café in Copenhagen where a public debate meeting was being held in the theatre next to the lobby. Bullets went through doors and windows, and everyone threw themselves to the floor. The French […]

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 […]

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

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

France: Satirical magazine brutally attacked by gunmen

Freemuse strongly condemns the brutal attack on Charlie Hebdo which has left 12 dead and five seriously injured. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and colleagues. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the French presiden also condemned the attack with automatic rifles on Charlie Hebdo staff members and police: “I am horrified by this shocking attack against […]

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

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

Turkey: Tv-drama and theatre directors arrested in crackdown

“Scores of media figures” were detained in a police raid on 14 December 2014, reported Hurriyet Daily News. Tv-drama producer Salih Asan, director Engin Koç and scriptwriter Makbule Çam Alemdağ were among the detained. Salih Asan was the producer of a controversial tv-drama called ‘Şefkat Tepe’ (literally translated as ‘Affection Hill’) which depicted the Prophet […]

Pakistan: 26 years prison verdict for playing religious song while staging mock marriage

The editor-in-chief of Geo TV, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, actor Veena Malik, her husband Asad Bashir Khan and tv-host Dr Shaista Lodhi Wahidi have been sentenced to 26 years in prison for an allegedly blasphemous tv-programme with a religious song, reported The Hindu, The News and Rural Media Network Pakistan. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (sometimes also spelled: Mir Shakeel […]

Tunisia: Reconciling freedom of artistic expression with religion

Aymen Allani calls for a new dialogue to be initiated in Tunisia between the proponents of absolute freedom of expression in the arts and those more conservative groups, who feel their religion threatened by such freedom. Opinion-piece by Aymen Allani, published by Common Ground News Service on 6 October 2014. Tunisia has not yet seen […]

Saudi Arabia: Edicts on music wade into controversy

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

USA: Opera transmission cancelled over antisemitism concerns

A live transmission of ENO and the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the opera ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ has been cancelled over concerns about its ‘appropriateness at this time of rising antisemitism’. Freemuse joins the international joint statement: Nat’l and International Organizations Warn That Cancelling ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Screenings Endangers Creative Freedom, Undermines Institution’s Credibility NEW […]

Turkey: Imam given go ahead to make rock‘n’roll

A Turkish imam, Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, has been allowed to rock on after the country’s powerful religious authorities gave him the green light to continue playing in his band after a nine-month investigation. Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, a Muslim religious leader from a tiny hamlet on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, was investigated by the Diyanet, the state […]

Iran: Producer of ‘Happy’ dancing video remains under arrest

Sasan Soleymani, who produced the video of Iranian youth in Tehran dancing to the Pharrell Williams song ‘Happy’, remains in custody in Rejai Shahr Prison, even though all six people who appeared in the video have been released on bail. » See on  www.payvand.com » And on  www.iranhumanrights.org Related post on artsfreedom.org: Iran: Arrested for dancing in […]

Egypt should abolish censorship of the arts

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

Iran: Signals of growing musical freedom of expression

With women singing on stage and a playlist of Western pop songs sung in English during performances of ‘The Last Days of March’ in Tehran, Iranian musicians are breaking new ground, reported Scott Peterson for Christian Science Monitor. Musicians and actors say that Iran’s culture space has opened up noticeably under the centrist President Hassan […]

Israel: Gaza theatres battle censorship and conservatism

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

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: […]

India: Play cancelled due to protests from Hindu fundamentalists

After dates for the performance ‘Ali J’ were announced, it was banned from being staged in three different cities. “In spite of obtaining prior permission from the city police regarding the play, a team of police came to the venue and told us to cancel the show at the last minute. It was shocking for […]

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 […]

Iran: Minister of Culture echoes call for cultural crackdown

After Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei alerted Iranian cultural officials to “dangerous cultural invasions” and called on them to take defensive action, Iran’s Minister of Culture and Guidance spoke in support of the leader’s cultural insights and supported policies of censorship. » See on www.payvand.com

Indonesia: Film censorship board bans the American film ‘Noah’

Indonesia has banned the release of the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Noah’, saying the biblical epic contradicts the teachings of the Koran and may mislead people. The ban in Indonesia follows similar moves in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. » See on time.com » Guardian Liberty Voice – 8 March 2014: Academy Award Winning Actor’s New Movie […]

United Kingdom: Petition calls for music video ban

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

India: Tamil poets explains how music is permitted in Islam

“Islam is not against music,” said Tamil poet Abdul Rahman on 14 February 2014, and that statement was quickly quoted and republished on dozens of Indian news-sites and blogs. Abdul Rahman is the director of the Islamic Literary Organisation, Islamiya Ilakkiya Kazhagam – a pioneer literary organisation in the Indian state Tamil Nadu. “Islam is not […]

Tunisia: A hundred drawings for the freedom of one illustrator

Artists from a dozen countries launched an Internet campaign to free young Tunisian artist Jabeur Mejri, imprisoned since March 2012 for blasphemy in sharing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed on Facebook. The campaign ‘One Hundred Drawings for Jabeur’ is meant to remind the Tunisian lawmakers that the country’s newly adopted constitution guarantees freedom of conscience […]

Northern Ireland: Bible comedy play banned on accusations of blasphemy

A light-hearted play about Christianity written almost 20 years ago was cancelled by councillors in Northern Ireland who deemed it “blasphemous”. Northern Ireland’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Carál Ni Chuilín expressed disapointment about the cancellation and said she supported the ‘right to freedom of expression’. “I am saddened that audiences here will not be […]

Syria: Music banned as Islamic law takes hold in northern province

In a statement, the organisation The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant “banned music and songs in cars, at parties, in shops and in public, as well as photographs of people in shop windows,” warning that “whoever violates these rules will subject themselves to the necessary Sharia punishment.” “Songs and music are forbidden in Islam, […]

Turkey: ‘Rock‘n’roll Imam’ under investigation

Turkish authorities are investigating whether the imam of a Mediterranean mosque, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, can continue his rock band, or whether the genre is incompatible with Islam. “I have heard that the decision will come in two to three weeks,” Tuzer said by telephone from Pinarkoy. Whatever the verdict will be, “I will continue to […]

Norway: Christian heavy metal band receives death threats

The heavy metal band Antestor have recieved many death threats because of their Christian religion, reported Karoline Paulsen Årrestad for NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation “It’s pretty disgusting,” said bass player Erik Norman Aanonsen. “Many in the black metal community feel they are a counterculture to the authorities, and especially to the church. That is […]

India: Film screening stopped by police

Kamal Haasan’s controversial film ‘Vishwaroopam’ is facing a two-week ban in Tamil Nadu amid protests by Muslim community. It was released in Kerala, but its screening was stopped by police in Hyderabad over security concerns. Made in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, ‘Vishwaroopam’, which revolves around the adversities of war, is produced and directed by Kamal […]

Russia: Christian activists sabotage theater production

Ultraconservative Christians who have previously targeted erotica exhibits, Pastafarians and supporters of feminist punk group Pussy Riot have attacked a theatre performance in Moscow. Dmitry Enteo and a female accomplice hijacked the stage during a performance of Konstantin Bogomolov’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre on 28 November 2013. The duo spent […]

Mauritania: Two rappers detained and interrogated

Security forces detained rapper and singer Leïla Moulay (also spelled: Laila Moulaye) on 13 November 2013, one day after rapper Hamzo Bryn was taken into custody. The detention came in response to their 28 September 2013 online release of a video titled ‘It started from Nouakchott’ by Hamzo’s group Soco Izi, which provoked a wave […]

Nigeria: Increase in number of music videos banned for erotic content

Michael Ugwu, the chief executive officer of Iroking, an online centre for afrobeat and Nigerian music, said there has been a large increase in the number of music videos being banned for broadcast in Nigeria. “Artists have begun releasing videos purely for the internet to get round the censors. I have seen the content of […]

Malaysia: American artist banned for offending religious sensitivities

Malaysian authorities have banned a planned concert by the American pop singer Ke$ha after deciding it would hurt cultural and religious sensitivities. The organiser of the concert, Livescape, told the news agencies that it received a letter from the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia about the ban and that it will be losing US$ 350,000 […]

USA: Religious group opposes Christmas carols ‘ban’ in school district

The superintendent at Bordentown Regional School District in New Jersey, USA, was reported by Charisma News to have “banned any and all religious music in the December concerts the district’s elementary schools normally hold”. According to Charisma News, the superintendent at Bordentown Regional School District made a public statement that “religious music should not be […]

Maldives: Allegedly ‘anti-Islamic’ song banned

Maldives National Bureau of Classification stated that the song ‘God Allah Aur Bhagwan’ from the film ‘Krrish 3’ – a much awaited Bollywood superhero science fiction movie – was banned due to its anti-Islamic nature. See on www.haveeru.com.mv

Denmark: Artist convicted of racism in ‘artistic manifesto’

Danish-Iranian artist Firoozeh Bazrafkan was handed a US$ 1,000 fine on 16 September 2013 when the Western High Court in Denmark found her guilty of racism. She says Iranian secret police discuss wanting to kill her because she is an apostate. She had been charged by Aarhus Police of violating anti-racism legislation, section 266 b […]

Swedish city offers Gaza rapper safe city residency

Video interview with rapper Khaled Harara from Palestine who the Swedish city of Gothenburg has announced will be offered a ‘safe city’ residency for two years. In April 2013, the 26-year-old rapper Khaled Harara came to the Freemuse secretariat in Copenhagen. Having toured Denmark, he was afraid of returning to his home in Gaza. Khaled […]

Turkey: Imam who is also a musician receives threats

Imam and rock musician Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer gave a concert with a repertoire composed entirely by himself at Kaş Marina on 10 August 2013. After the concert was reported by the press, he began to receive threatening and insulting messages. ‘Imam led the prayer before concert | Rocker Imam Ahmet’. Published on youtube.com on 11 […]

Book with accounts of artists’ resistance to religious extremism

Here is a book which describes a largely invisible global community of writers, artists, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, activists, and educators of Muslim heritage around the world who often risk death to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism within their own countries. ‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here’ is written by Karima Bennoune, a […]

Russia: Rolling back free expression | Index on Censorship

As the G20 nations prepare to meet in St Petersburg, Russia in early September 2013, Index on Censorship is exploring the nations’ records on free expression. Their article about Russia, headlined ‘Russia: Rolling back free expression’ and published on 20 August 2013, contains the following paragraph about the artistic freedom of expression in the country: […]

Lebanon/UAE: British comedian cancels tour after threats

British comedian and actor Russell Brand had been booked to perform in United Arab Emirates and Lebanon on his ‘Messiah Complex’ world tour, but those gigs have now been cancelled because of threats from religious groups. “I was told that if I went there there would be problems,” Russell Brand told Radio 5live: “The venue […]

Egypt: Author sentenced to five years in prison for insulting religion

Egyptian author and human rights activist Karam Saber has been sentenced to five years in prison, after a court found his writings to have insulted religion, reported the Egyptian news website Aswat Masriya. The complaint against Karam Saber and his book ‘Ayn Allah’ (‘Where Is God?’) was initially filed in 2011, shortly after the fall […]

New book: ‘Music, Culture and Conflict in Mali’

Freemuse are pleased to announce the publication of our first book, ‘Music, Culture and Conflict in Mali’, which is launched in a digital and on-demand paperback edition on 21 May 2013. “Essential reading for anyone who has been touched by Saharan music. It gives a clear and gripping picture of what it’s like to live […]

Egypt: Novelist prosecuted for blasphemy

The prominent Egyptian novelist Youssef Zeidan, author of the bestselling book ‘Azazil’, stands trial for blasphemy and contempt of Islam, Christianity and Judaism because of his book ‘The Arabic Theology’. Zeidan appeared in front of the High State Security Prosecutor in mid-February 2013. The official memo which notified the author of the investigation was very stern and […]

Turkey: Pianist Fazil Say sentenced for Twitter posts

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say was given a 10 month suspended jail sentence for blasphemy by the 19th Criminal Court in Istanbul on April 15 2013 after retweeting an ancient poem on Twitter. Fazil Say, 42, was found guilty of violating Article 216 (3) of the Turkish Criminal Code, which prohibits  the ‘denigration of the […]

Russia: The arts sector faces increasing self-censorship

Moscow artist Victoria Lomasko discussed the confrontation between her country’s orthodox church and Russian artists in an interview with DW, Germany’s international broadcaster. To avoid attacks from the Orthodox groups, artists and curators take cover in self-censorship, she told DW. Victoria Lomasko is a Russian artist who is most famous in the West for her […]

Denmark: Authors’ manifesto for free speech re-opens self-censorship debate

“Danish artists have made censorship into something positive,” claimed a newspaper commentator. In 2010, a study pointed to a very real problem with self-censorship in Danish cultural life, when it comes to religious subjects. And when an author recently published a manifesto in defense of unlimited freedom of expression, only 14 other Danish authors were […]

India: Major media attention on lack of artistic freedom of speech

India has been enthralled in what Salman Rushdie called a ‘cultural emergency’, with writers and artists harassed for opinions. “In India today, it seems, free speech is itself an atrocity,” wrote Suketu Mehta in New York Times on 5 February 2013: “Writers and artists of all kinds are being harassed, sued and arrested for what […]

Switzerland: Ban on photographic book

On 24 January 2013, Zurich Civil Court confirmed a ban on the photographic book by Christian Lutz, ‘In Jesus’ Name’, based on complaints from 21 people who appear in the book. The photographer, along with the Musée de l’Elysée and Lars Müller Publishers, have called the ban a “breach of freedom of speech and of […]

Egypt’s art world rallies to defend freedom of expression

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

Denmark: Row over Muslim satire

“Every muslim must know that there are consequences if you make fun of Islam,” says Abu Zakaria and calls for a boycott of the new Danish satire-series entitled ‘Det Slører Stadig’, broadcasted by the public service channel DR2. In the tv-programme, four young women with immigrant background from Iran, Jordan and Bosnia take a satirical […]

International artists support imprisoned Iranian singer

In a letter to the Iranian authorities, world renowned artists join Freemuse in a protest against the imprisonment of their Iranian colleague Arya Aramnejad. The artists’ appeal letter [PDF] Singer Lapiro de Mbanga, who successfully ran a case against Cameroon in The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention because of his wrongful imprisonment, is […]

Singer Jowan Safadi arrested in Jordan for blasphemy

This is song is allegedly one of the reasons that Jowan Safadi was arrested.   Jowan Safadi was arrested in Amman on charges of ‘insulting religion’ after his concert on 27 November 2012. A campaign was launched on Twitter under the hashtag #FreeJowanSafadi and also on his Facebook-page – where Jowan Safadi himself then posted […]

India: Activist challenges Indian blasphemy law

“Can you legislate against offence without compromising free speech?,” asks Caspar Melville, editor of New Humanist Magazine, in his report about Sanal Edamarauku, who challenges Indian blasphemy law on the basis that it conflicts with provisions in the Indian constitution which protect free speech. Catholic groups in India have brought blasphemy charges against Sanal Edamarauku, […]

European Commission: Artists are free to ‘offend, shock or disturb’

The European Union criticised Poland’s supreme court for allowing prosecutors to try Adam Darski, lead singer in the heavy metal band Behemoth, for illegal artistic expression. At issue is the interpretation of Article 196 of the Polish penal code referring to “the crime of offending religious sensibilities.” While on stage in 2007, singer Adam Darski […]

Egypt: Row over song which allegedly insults Islam

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

Somalia: Poet, playwright and songwriter killed by unknown gunmen

Somali poet, playwright and songwriter Warsame Shire Awale was killed in the country’s capital, Mogadishu, on 29 October 2012 in the evening, reported BBC World. Warsame Shire Awale who was in his 60s worked for the Radio Kulmiye where he wrote and acted in radio plays critical of the militant group, al-Shabab, who he accused […]

Mali: The day the music stopped

Posted on 23 October 2012. Updated on 7 January 2013 “We do not want Satan’s music,” said an Islamist spokesman as he banned the broadcasting of all western music from his stronghold in Gao, a city that finds itself within the most literal and brutal Sharia jurisdiction in the world today; the ‘red zone’ in […]

Turkey: Court case against pianist adjourned until February

Turkish pianist Fazil Say appeared in court in Istanbul but the court adjourned his case until 18 February 2013. Fazil Say is charged with inciting hatred and insulting the values of Muslims because of some Twitter posts, some of which he didn’t write himself, but simply forwarded. Fazil Say denied the charges in front of […]

Nepal: The rise and ‘ban’ of the collateral

How a young Nepali painters’ works raised questions on artistic freedom in Kathmandu, the City of Temples. BY KANCHAN G. BURATHOKI • OCTOBER 2012 • [A4 PDF] On Tuesday afternoon, 11 September 2012, when the exhibition ‘The Rise of the Collateral’ had only nine days left to conclude, after having been at display at Siddhartha […]

Symbols into soldiers: Art, censorship, and religion

Notwithstanding almost two and a half centuries of separation of church and state, religious groups in the US have never given up the desire to impose their values and beliefs on society at large. Controversies around art with religious content persist with some regularity, generally spurred by private religious groups or conservative – or just […]

 

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