Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015

Freemuse Annual Statistics on Censorship and Attacks on Artistic Freedom in 2015 Artistic freedom is under extreme pressure in far too many countries. The Freemuse annual report summarises censorship and threats on artistic freedom in 2015 in over 70 countries. In total, Freemuse registered 469 cases of censorship and attacks on artists and violations of […]

INSIGHT 2015 publication: Targeting the arts

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

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 […]

Syria: ISIL burns music instruments of ‘Peace Ambassador’ artist

On 17 April 2015, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) burnt the musical instruments of the young Palestinian pianist Ayham Al Ahmad, reported Syria Live Network. Ayham Al Ahmad is well-known for his music expressing the tragedies of the Syrian war, which he has performed amid the devastated buildings in the Yarmouk Palestinian […]

Artsfreedom gives you INSIGHT: Syria

Four years ago a nationwide uprising swept through Syria. The deadlocked conflict has cost an estimated 200,000 lives and forced millions of people from their homes. Many artists were in the forefront of the revolution in 2011. As a result some were killed, others abducted, detained and tortured. Hundreds left the country in fear of […]

The Syrian uprising – art in the diaspora

If there is a place where using the word “revolution” in the context of Syria does not result in endless and highly heated conversations, that is in arts and culture. Unlike politics – a slippery slope terrain where the 2011 Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Asad can take unexpected shapes and be easily turned into a […]

Syria: Islamic State issues ban on songs by American singer

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) has distributed many leaflets in Syria to prohibit youth from listening to the songs of the American singer Madonna, reported Al Arabiya, MBC and over 40 other news providers and websites. ISIL stated that Madonna’s songs are ‘haram’ (forbidden in Islam), since […]

Syrian artists standing against tyranny

The nationwide uprising that swept through Syria in March 2011 has created a rift between the country’s artists and intellectuals. Some of whom took the regime’s side, some preferred to remain neutral, while others chose to join the revolution since its early beginnings. However, their support of the uprising has had serious repercussions: assault, threat, […]

Suppression of artsfreedom in Middle East and North Africa discussed in UN

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in conjunction with Freemuse and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry organised a discussion panel on Friday 13 March 2015 on the sidelines of the 28th Human Rights Council session in Geneva, discussing several forms of suppression of artistic freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa. The panel, the […]

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 […]

Syria/USA: Exiled pianist portrayed in remarkable documentary

National Geographic released its documentary film ‘Notes For My Homeland’ featuring USA-based, Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali’s musical journey to Carnegie Hall. » See the film here “The Syrian-American composer and pianist has performed in leading concert halls around the world and has also written a song so powerful that his parents were beaten in […]

United Kingdom: Syrian artist denied UK visa will miss his own exhibition

One of Syria’s most prominent artists has been denied a visa to travel to the UK for the opening of his own exhibition in London. Thaier Helal, widely known in Syria for his neo-expressionist works, was denied entry to Britain by the Home Office. He was due to appear at an exhibition of his works […]

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 […]

Syria: Surviving civil war with heavy metal

Armed with a cellphone and borrowed camera, the young Syrian Monzer Darwish seeks refuge in producing a ‘rockumentary’ about Heavy Metal music in Syria. His documentary film called ‘Syrian Metal Is War’ is currently being edited in Lebanon. A trailer was published on in January 2014: Syrian Metal Is War – Documentary Promo Published […]

The soundtrack of Syrian resistance

Music has been at the core of the Syrian uprising since its beginning in 2011, and for the same reason musicians have been killed and are being silenced by force. It is part of an attempt to impose political and religious agendas, reports Spanish-Syrian activist Leila Nachawati, who is a professor of Communications at Carlos […]

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, […]

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 […]

Syria: Exiled artists create art that reflects, critiques and inspires

Art Radar highlights eight of Syria’s contemporary artists whose work tests the boundaries of artistic expression and socio-cultural norms. In 2012, Al Jazeera reported that a number of syrian artists, filmmakers and actors were persecuted, arrested and even tortured by the state for dissent. Determined to continue their work free from censorship, many have had to leave […]

Artist Alert: August and September 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 21 October 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 […]

Syria: To be a writer under al-Assad’s regime | PEN

Interview with Syrian writer Samar Yazbek about her experiences working as a writer and journalist under Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Prior to the ‘PEN Free the Word!’ event at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in June 2013, Lauren Pyott caught up with the PEN Award-winning Syrian writer Samar Yazbek and interviewed her for […]

Syrian pianist: “We need freedom for true art”

Syria Untold spoke to renowned Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali about the emergence of new forms of art and music in Syria. Jandali, who composed the song ‘Watani Ana’ (My Homeland) at the start of the revolution, told us what he considers to be his personal contribution to his country: Music for freedom and […]

Syria: Artist held in arrest more than a month

More than a month after the arrest of the artist Yussef Abdelki, who is an opponent of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the Syrian authorities have released him, reported his wife to AFP. The security services arrested the Christian artist on 18 July 2013 in Tartus along with two members of the banned Communist Labour Party, […]

Syria: Actor Aiman Zidan threatened with death by hanging

A home page of one of the Syrian opposition groups has a picture of one of Syria’s most renowned and respected actors, Aiman Zidan, along with a text: “The thing is out of the hands of the FSA. It is with the Al-Nusra front now. By God’s name, we will hang you in Kafirsosa Square!” […]

Exiled Syrian film producer and cartoonist honoured with award

Exiled Syrians film producer Orwa Nyrabia and political cartoonist Ali Farzat were smiling and making jokes in Copenhagen with good reason. They each received the Danish Poul Lauritzen human rights award and 10,000 euros each for their work on human rights and political freedom in Syria. With the ongoing violence in Syria, the PL Foundation […]

Syrian film removed from Egyptian film festival

Official sources at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), which launched on 27 November 2012, said that the Syrian film ‘El Asheq’ (The Lover) was disqualified from the festival’s competition because of the lead actor’s and director’s support for Syria’s current ruler Bashar El-Assad. Syrian film director Abdul Hamid’s ‘El Asheq’ was supposed to had […]

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 […]

Syria: Art, creative resistance and active citizenship

The links between creative resistance and active citizenship, art and civic conscience have been a strong component of the Syrian uprising. Finally, citizens have turned into peer-creators and users, who have now the tools to express their creativity.     BY DONATELLA DELLA RATTA • OCTOBER 2012 • [A4 PDF]   During the early days […]

Syrian actor killed – allegedly for supporting the president

The well-known Syrian-born Palestinian actor Mohammed Rafia is believed to have been killed by rebels because of his support for President Bashar al-Assad. “His death is a sign of the abyss of personal hatred and violence into which Syria has fallen,” wrote BBC’s reporter Sebastian Usher. An extremist rebel group says it killed him, though […]

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 […]

Syria: Documentary filmmaker disappeared in airport

Orwa Nyrabia, an independent documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the Damascus-based international documentary festival ‘DOX BOX’, was arrested by the Syrian military as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy artists and intellectuals. Orwa Nyrabia disappeared on 23 August 2012 before boarding an airplane to Cairo. His wife, Diana El-Jeiroudi, was informed that he never boarded […]

Syria: Ban on tv-series and films about homosexuality

An article in Al-Akhbar explains about the censorship of tv-series and films about lesbians, such as the television series ‘Behind Bars’ and the new short film, ‘A Lesbian Tale’. In an interview with Al-Akhbar, director Muhammad Khair Diab explains about his new short film titled ‘A Lesbian Tale’ which is a love story between two […]

CPJ: Eritrea, North Korea and Syria among 10 most censored countries

Eritrea has emerged as the world’s most censored country, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its analysis of press restrictions around the globe. Following closely on CPJ’s 10 Most Censored Countries list are North Korea, Syria, and Iran — three nations where vast restrictions on information have enormous implications for geopolitical and nuclear […]

Syrian author: This is an extermination of my people

Open letter from the Syrian author Khalid Khalifa: “My friends, writers and journalists from all over the world, in China and Russia, I would like to inform you that my people is being subjected to a genocide. A week ago the forces of the Syrian regime stepped up its attacks on the rebellious cities, especially […]

Cartoonist Ali Ferzat: Revolution redefines art in Syria

BBC News interviewed the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who in August 2011 was attacked by masked men, beaten, and dumped by the side of the road. An attack which made headlines across the world. BBC News met the artist in a small art gallery behind Sloane Square in London where his sly deconstructions of authoritarianism […]



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