Malaysia: Art group withdraws from show after artwork was removed

Two large pieces of art by Borneo-based art collective Pangrok Sulap were removed from the Escape from the SEA exhibition organised by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL) allegedly due to complaints over content, reported The Malay Mail Online in March 2016. The first piece, entitled ‘Sabah Tanah Air-Ku’, was removed from the National Visual Arts […]

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 […]

Turkey: Two sculptures removed after protests

City officials removed a sculpture from outside the A Plus shopping mall in the western part of Istanbul just two days after it went up after a “big crowd” protested the work, reported Artnet on 29 December 2016. Ahmet Güneştekin’s word sculpture featuring the old name for Istanbul – Konstantiniyye – in large, colourful block […]

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

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

Greece: Artistic freedom at stake

Censorship incidents and controversies over artworks have multiplied over the last few years in Greece, particularly since the crisis hit the country in 2008. At the same time, legal controversies over blasphemous and obscene publications continue while hate crimes are on the rise, as exemplified by the murder of young rapper Fyssas in 2014.   […]

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 […]

Australia: Artist censors own mural

Street artist Lushsux, known for his controversial public art, censored his own mural on the side of a Melbourne business showing a nearly nude Hillary Clinton in a U.S.-flag swimsuit with $100 bills stuffed into it by covering her up in a niqab after the local council deemed it offensive, reported ABC News on 2 […]

Denmark/USA: Artists censored in public spaces

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

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 […]

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 […]

Turkey: Many artists bow to censorship orders, says theatre director

According to the veteran Turkish stage actor and director Genco Erkal many artists in Turkey are bowing to censorship orders from municipal or state officials “because they want to be able to draw on opportunities offered by municipalities.” “Many fellow [actors] comply with terms imposed by municipalities just so they can receive funds,” Genco Erkal […]

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 […]

Singapore: Call to artists to reject self-censorship scheme

“It is like they are taking someone from within the group to be the policeman” “Singaporeans should reject the self-licensing/self-classification/self-­censorship scheme proposed by the Media Development Authority,” artists say in video produced by Arts Engage. » Find out more on » Artists’ Responses Against MDA’s Self-Censorship Scheme‎

China: Exclusive essay by Ai Weiwei: ‘On Self-Censorship’

This month, Ai Weiwei withdrew his work from a show at Beijing’s influential Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a tribute to the late scholar Hans Van Dijk, with whom he worked closely, reported Huffington Post. It was a move made in protest: In a series of correspondences that surfaced online, UCCA chief Xue Mei admitted […]

Iran: Six women artists cancel their participation in exhibition in Israel

It was supposed to be a group exhibition in which seven contemporary women artists from Iran were to take part. The young artists, only some of whom live in Iran, initially agreed to participate in the Israeli exhibition, but as time went by, their fear of the Iranian authorities mounted and they started to cancel, […]

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 […]

United Kingdom: Gallery in censorship row over Egyptian posters | Index

The London gallery P21 has been accused of censorship following the decision not to exhibit 12 poster prints satirising Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and jailed former president Mohamed Morsi. Twelve posters by Egyptian artist and graphic designer Ghada Wali, making up the piece ‘Film Ikhwany’, were supposed to be part of the Alexandria portion of the […]

USA: Citizens group advocates censorship of anti-Israeli theatre plays

In an apparent bow to the right in the Jewish culture wars, Theater J, a celebrated theatrical group housed at Washington’s DC Jewish Community Center, will not produce a play that has been denounced by critics as ‘anti-Israel’. “A small yet vocal group seems to be holding the artistic and ethical sensibilities of the Jewish […]

Senegal: Awadi speaks about self-censorship

You can criticise presidents but not religious leaders, says Didier Awadi, one of Africa’s leading artists, to Freemuse Didier Awadi, for decades considered one of Africa’s most respected and outspoken artists, has criticized neo-colonialism, corrupt presidents and politicians. But even outspoken artists consider the fine balance between what may be important to address and what […]

Index on Censorship: Self-censorship stifling UK artistic expression

Widespread self-censorship and fear of causing offence is suppressing creativity and ideas in the United Kingdom, according to a conference report published by Index on Censorship, ‘Taking the Offensive’. There are multiple pressures on artistic freedom of expression and censorship has become a major issue for the arts sector in this country, the report reveals. […]

Russia: Self-censorship and fear has poisoned the arts sector

Criminal prosecution of artists in Russia casts chill on expression, wrote Index on Censorship on 17 April 2013. Russian MPs back harsher anti-blasphemy law, reported BBC News on 10 April 2012, after Russian MPs had given initial approval to an anti-blasphemy law with tougher jail terms or fines for anyone found guilty of offending religious […]

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 […]

Israel: “Censorship minister” wants filmmakers to exercise self-censorship

On 26 February 2013, the Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat called on Israeli filmmakers to exercise “self-censorship” and refrain from producing movies that cast aspersions on Israel and “libel it throughout the world.” In response, this brought out an editorial in Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, which labeled Limor Livnat as “The censorship […]

Iran: Five members of an underground band arrested

Iranian police have arrested five members of an underground band suspected of producing music for Farsi-speaking, dissident satellite channels based in the US, and working with dissident Iranian singers abroad, reported PRI’s The World, and a semiofficial Fars news agency. A prominent Iranian songwriter was reportedly among five musicians arrested in a police raid in […]

China: Blocked videos and independent films

China’s best-known dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s parodic ‘Gangnam Style’ video was blocked by Chinese authorities within 24 hours after it was uploaded to China’s video sharing site Tuduo on 24 October 2012. The original ‘Gangnam Style’ music video by South Korean artist Psy featuring his infamous horse-riding dance is the Guinness World Record holder for […]

Fear, threats and self-censorship among Syrian rappers

Syrian rappers are split about how to engage in the fronts of an uprising that have turned to civil war. President Bashar al-Assad’s fear-based society is making everyone think twice.   Refugees of Rap, a group of rappers from the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Syria, has a new album ready for release about a […]

Exiled Burmese artist: “Self-censorship is second nature”

Interviews with two Burmese artists: Chaw Ei Thein, who now lives in exile in the United States, on the situation in Burma in 2012, and Htein Lin, who describes how he maintained his artistic work while in prison. Chaw Ei Thein was briefly imprisoned after having made ​​a political performance piece in the streets of […]

India: Film based on Salman Rushdie book not to be screened

Indian-born filmmaker Deepa Metha’s latest film, ‘Midnight’s Children’, may never be available to Indian audiences because of the Indian government’s aversion to the film. No outright ban of the film is currently in place. Instead, distributors allegedly fear soft reprisals and are avoiding the title. The film had its debut at the Toronto International Film […]

Germany: Row over caricature of Jesus in art exhibition

At the exhibition ‘Caricatura VI – The Comic Art – analog, digital, international’ in Kassel in Germany, a cartoon created by cartoonist Mario Lars has been removed after protests that it hurt people’s religious feelings The drawing depicts Jesus suffering on the cross and a speech bubble, which apparently contains words from God, who says: […]

India: Fear of offending religious sentiments lead to cancellation of opera

“Religious censorship crushes creativity. So is it ever right to ban art?,” asked author Jeet Thayil in a commentary in The Guardian newspaper on 10 August 2012 where he descibed why a six-city Indian tour for the opera ‘Babur in London’ was cancelled. The piece combines the contemporary poetry of Jeet Thayil with original music […]

Awarded Iranian film director speaks about censorship and restriction

In a video interview with Euronews in Cannes, film director Asghar Farhadi talks about the current restraints on Iranian film-makers. In February 2012, Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi’s film ‘Separation’ won two Oscar nominations and took the award for Best Foreign Language film, the first Iranian movie to win the honour. And in Cannes in […]

Party-organiser removes painting of woman in niqab

An oil painting of a stripper in a cocktail glass wearing the Muslim headdress niqab was to supposed to be an eye catcher for the music event ‘Haram!’ in Odense, Denmark. Instead it provoked a fierce debate, and after threats of a fatwa, the organiser, Amin Safari, has removed the image from the Facebook page […]

Self-censorship to keep Chinese authorities on board

The London Book Fair, which is one of the biggest international publishing events in the world and which is focusing on China this year, is facing claims it has bowed to pressure from Chinese authorities by failing to invite dissident and exiled writers to April’s event, choosing only state-approved authors. “It is shocking enough that […]



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