Mali: Rapper receives death threats for political song and campaign

Rapper and activist Master Soumy (real name: Ismaïla Doucouré) received death threats from anonymous phone calls and cyber-attacks after launching a song and campaign to mobilise people against planned constitutional amendments that would increase the powers of the presidency, reported on 11 June 2017. In his song ‘An Tè A Bana’ (‘Don’t Touch My […]

Jordan: Lebanese rock band’s concert cancelled for second consecutive year

In a 13 June 2017 statement, Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila announced that Jordanian authorities banned their 27 June 2017 concert scheduled to take place in capital Amman’s Exhibition Park, making this the second consecutive year that authorities have banned the band’s performances. The popular band, whose music has been called the “soundtrack to the […]

South Korea: K-pop stars receive death threats

In mid-June 2017, K-pop group Apink and K-pop singer Mina, from group Twice, received death threats, via social media and phone, respectively, reported The Korea Herald. The newspaper reported that an unidentified man called Gangnam police in Seoul on the evening of 14 June 2017 saying that he wanted to stab the members of Apink […]

Three Arab actresses receive death threats from ISIS over TV series

Three Arab actresses – Mona Shaddad, Aseel Omran and Fatima Nasser – have received death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because of their roles in the TV series ‘Gharabeeb Soud’ (Black Crows), which criticizes the terror group, reported Al Arabiya and Alwatan Voice on 30 May 2017. Kuwaiti actress Mona […]

Israel: Director and actresses receive death threats over feminist film

Palestinian film director and activist Maysaloun Hamoud has received a fatwa against her, as well as multiple death threats, which the actresses in her film ‘Bar Bahar’ (In Between) also received, due to it featuring taboo topics, such as drug and alcohol abuse and homosexuality, reported Telquel on 9 March 2017. Hamoud confirmed that she […]

India: Comic receives death threats over stand-up video

Indian stand-up comic Kunal Kamra received death threats over a video of one of his sets ‘Patriotism and the Government’ that he uploaded on YouTube on 1 March 2017, reported First Post on 16 March 2017. The video begins with a slogan from a student protest in 2016: “India is a democracy, until you criticize […]

Zimbabwe: Musician flees country due to death threats over song

When Cris Gera released ‘Chema Zimbabwe’ (Cry for Zimbabwe) in 2016 he saw it as a lament – a prayer for his troubled country and its deepening economic, social and political crises. But others saw it differently. Soon after its release Gera got a call from an unidentified caller warning him of dire consequences because […]

Venezuela: Singer received death threat from parliamentarian

Venezuelan singer Oscarcito (real name: Oscar Eduardo Hernández Villegas) received a death threat over social media by Member of Parliament Juan Díaz who told the singer to wear a bulletproof vest at his concerts because he would “roll” [Latin American expression denoting “to die”] in one of them, reported El Nacional on 24 April 2017. […]

Tunisia: British DJ sentenced to jail for playing dance version of Muslim prayer

A Tunisian court sentenced British DJ Dax J to a year in jail for “public indecency” and “offending public morality” after playing a dance remix of the Muslim call to prayer on 31 March 2017 at the ORBIT Festival in the north eastern coastal town of Nabeul, reported BBC on 7 April 2017. The Bristish-born, […]

Germany: Right-wing groups protest installation in Dresden, threaten mayor

The unveiling of artist Manaf Halbouni’s ‘Monument’, a peace memorial inspired by the Syrian war consisting of three buses standing upright on their ends beside the Frauenkirche church in Dresden, drew protests from right-wing groups from the AfD (Alternative for Germany) nationalist party and PEGIDA movement, reported Deutsche Welle on 7 February 2017. Additionally, Dresden […]

Venezuela: Catholic universities ban transgender film, filmmakers say

The production crew of film ‘Tamara’ in a public statement reported that Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB) and Catholic University Santa Rosa (UCSAR) refused to screen their film as they considered it a piece of “transsexual propaganda”, reported Venezuelan newspaper 2001 on 6 March 2017.   The film is inspired by the life of Tamara […]

Ukraine: Art exhibition suffered multiple threats and attacks

More than a dozen masked men stormed into the Visual Culture Research Centre (VCRC) on 7 February 2017, vandalized Davyd Chychkan’s ‘The Lost Opportunity’ exhibition and beat a security guard at the venue in Ukrainian capital Kiev, reported Polish network Political Critique on 8 February 2017. VCRC reported on its Facebook page that just a […]

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 […]

Mexico: Narcocorrido musician killed for singing to the wrong cartel

On 3 March 2017, Rolando Arellano Sánchez, a member of the narcocorrido band Contacto, was shot and killed by cartel members who were waiting for him outside the house of another member of the band in Tijuana city, reported Univision on 5 March 2017. Sánchez, the 22-year-old guitarist and back-up vocalist of the band, was […]

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 […]

China: Gallery cancels event due to government pressure over Tibetan artist

Macau-based iAOHiN Amber gallery cancelled Tibetan painter Tashi Norbu’s live painting event after receiving pressure from Chinese government officials, reported Hong Kong Free Press on 27 February 2017. The artist, who was in Hong Kong at the time, added that Chinese authorities threatened to arrest and deport him if he tried to enter Macau, reported […]

Iran: Musician and filmmaker attacked and threatened in prison

On 5 March 2017, the Center for Human Rights in Iran reported that musician Mehdi Rajabian and filmmaker Keywan Karimi have been beaten and threatened by other inmates in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison while being imprisoned in the ward for political prisoners. According to the organisation, authorities are violating the law by refusing to move […]

Israel: Gazan singer on conditional release by Hamas authorities

On 25 January 2017, Hamas authorities in Gaza released singer-comedian Adel al-Mashwakhi on bail after having been arrested and in prison since 11 January 2017 for a video he posted on his Facebook page, reported Minneapolis Star Tribune on 26 January 2017. Al-Mashwakhi said his release was conditional upon him no longer making “politically flavoured” […]

Pakistan: Singer interrupts show to rescue woman from harassment

Pakistani singer and actor Atif Aslam briefly stopped his concert in Karachi on 14 January 2017 to rescue a female audience member who was being harassed by having security staff pull her up on stage and finding her a safer place to enjoy the show, reported Hindustan Times on 16 January 2017. Aslaf issued a […]

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

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

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 […]

Azerbaijan: Rapper’s family detained over music video

Azerbaijani authorities detained rapper Jamal Ali’s mother, uncle and two cousins for four days after Ali released an online music video critical of the government, reported Eurasianet on 9 January 2017. The video for song ‘Heykal Baba’ (Monument Grandpa) was released on 31 December 2016 and was dedicated to two young activists who are serving […]

Sweden: New report examines threats against commissioners of art

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

Egypt: Two libraries shut down, one threatened with closure

On 1 December 2016, authorities shut down two al-Karama public library branches in Tora and Dar al-Salam. The libraries were founded by Gamal Eid, human rights lawyer and head of Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), without any warning or official reason, simply stating they had “received orders” to do so, reported Mada Masr. […]

Egypt: Downtown Cairo art gallery raided by police

Police and national security officials stormed the Mashrabia Gallery for Contemporary Art in downtown Cairo on 31 October 2016, a gallery employee told Freemuse, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying it took everyone at the gallery “completely by surprise”. Rather than raiding the gallery and asking for its license or official documents, the employee said […]

Israel: Culture minister and activists call for cancellation of Palestinian rapper’s performance

Israel’s controversial Minister of Culture Miri Regev tried to persuade the city of Haifa and its mayor to cancel Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar’s performance at the 32nd annual Haifa Film Festival due to his stance on Israel, reported The Times of Israel on 18 October 2016. Regev’s letter followed warnings from Likud party activists who said […]

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 […]

Russia: Theatres in an age of government intimidation

This article on the increasingly difficult environment theatres face for the content they stage from various Russian government bodies was originally published on 18 August 2015 by The Theatre Times, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to re-publish it here: Intimidation Tactics Caitlin Connell and Patrick Connelly have spent the summer in Moscow looking at the current […]

Australia: Singer received death threats after asking group to stop using songs

Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes revealed on ABC’s Q&A show on 19 September 2016 that he and his family were sent death threats after he asked anti-immigration groups to stop using his songs at their rallies because he didn’t want him or his music to be “associated with hate speech”, reported The Sydney Morning Herald […]

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 […]

Burundi: Musician received death threats ahead of trip home

Burundian musician Kidum Kibido (real name Jean-Pierre Nimbona) said he received death threats via social media in advance of returning home for a performance in capital Bujumbura that took place on 3 September 2016, reported The Rwanda Focus on 16 August 2016. The musician, who fled Burundi in 1995 due to political instability and made […]

Sweden: Metal band allegedly receives threats after cancelling gig

Swedish metal band Black Ingvars have reported receiving multiple anonymous death threats after they decided to pull out of a summer festival organised by far-right, nationalist party Swedish Democrats, reported Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on 8 August 2016. “I have received emails where people write that they hope I’ll die in a car crash or suffer […]

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 […]

Morocco: Writer fined, sentenced for defamation over characters in novel

The trial court in the central Moroccan province of Ouarzazate sentenced writer Aziz Benhadouch on 2 August 2016 to a two-month suspended prison sentence, levied a 1,000 Dirham (approx. USD $100) fine and ordered he pay 20,000 Dirhams (approx. USD $2,035) in compensation to plaintiffs over his 2014 novel ‘The Island of Males’, reported rights […]

Poland: Ukrainian band stopped at border due to local threats

Polish authorities did not let Ukrainian band Ot Vinta cross the border into Poland as local hard-core football fans known as Ultras threatened to stage mass riots and burn down the stage the band was set to perform on if they were let into the country. The band was scheduled to play in a festival […]

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 […]

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

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

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 […]

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 […]

Greece: Political play shut down due to threats

A play revolving around the Greek 17 November urban guerrilla group entitled ‘Nash’s Balance’ was shut down four days early due to threats to actors and theatregoers, reported Reuters. According to the director Pigi Dimitrakopoulou, the political play was “inspired by literary and historical texts, the minutes of the 17 November trial and Savvas Xiros’s […]

Nigeria: Artist arrested for political performance piece

Performance artist Jelili Atiku was arrested on 18 January 2016 for his performance entitled ‘Aragamago Will Rid this Land off Terrorism’, which he staged on 14 January 2016 in the Ejigbo area of Oshodi-Isolo in Lagos state, reported News 24 Nigeria. The artist and four others were arrested on a four-count charge of disturbing the […]

Egypt: Screenwriter threatened by Muslim Brotherhood

Some Muslim Brotherhood members launched a media attack against serialised TV show ‘The Kingdom of Yusuf Al Maghrabi’ and its screenwriter Youssef Hamdi, including resorting to blackmail, for portraying some of the group’s members in a poor light, reported online news platform Newsbookra. The threats came after members of the group discovered that in an […]

Algeria: Attack on famous raï singer’s concert thwarted

According to Morocco World News, Alarabiya and other media, Algerian authorities are searching for three terrorists who attempted to target Annaba Theatre, a theatre in the north-eastern city of Annaba, where raï singer Cheb Khaled was performing on 9 December 2015. A separate report by Russia Today cited Algerian media sources as saying that the Algerian army […]

Morocco: Film actress attacked, humiliated and exiled

The Moroccan actress Lubna Abidar who starred in the movie ‘Zin li fik’ (‘Much Loved’) has been violently attacked in Morocco and has consequently fled to France to seek asylum in a European country. Lubna Abidar was reported to have left her country on 8 November 2015, travelling to France, after being attacked and injured […]

Burundi: Musicians menaced, silenced and fleeing the country

Burundian artists are confronted with ever-shrinking possibilities for open and free political speech. Well-known singers and band members are being targeted and, if possible, manipulated to change their artistic or political style. Several musicians have fled the country. By John Banram, Freemuse correspondent – reporting from Burundi  INSIGHT  Fear of being assassinated is spreading among […]

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 […]

Bangladesh: Three poets get death threats

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

Cuba: Cuban rocker Gorki Aguila arrested

According to Capital Hill Cubans and other sources, Castro regime officials showed up on 5 August 2015 at the home of Cuban rocker Gorki Aguila and arrested him. According to his daughter, Gorki Aguila was given no cause for his arrest Aguila, front-man of the band Porno Para Ricardo, recently authored a song in honor […]

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 […]

Gambia: Rapper forced to flee after song criticising president goes viral

A few days after Gambian rapper Killa Ace (real name: Ali Cham) released a song critical of the Gambian regime, he started receiving threats that lead him to flee the country. In the song, entitled ‘Ku Boka C Geta G’, Killa Ace speaks against social injustices, oppression, corruption and lack of freedom of expression under […]

Tunisia: No investigation into attack on a local rapper

How freedom of expression is oppressed through financial, moral and psychological pressure and damages is Tunisian rapper Hamadi Dia’s story. Today, Freemuse publishes his account of what he is going through because of the music and lyrics he produces. By Shaima Aly, Freemuse “Those groups succeeded in their mission to shut me up and get […]

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 […]

Statement: Artsfreedom organisations deliver checklist for United Nations

ARTICLE 19, Freemuse, and PEN International have submitted a joint written statement on behalf of 18 signatories, regarding the upcoming United Nations appointment of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. At the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council, 14 September to 2 October 2015, the President of the Human Rights Council […]

Turkey: 19-year-old singer attacked after threats

After appearing on the Turkish talent show Sesi Çok Güzel on national tv, the 19-year-old singer Mutlu Kaya reportedly received death threats and was attacked in her home, reported Agence France-Presse and Hurriyet on 18 May 2015. The assailant fired a bullet into the house through a back window in the garden, and Mutlu Kaya […]

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 […]

Sweden: Art under threat

Several Swedish artists live under constant threat from nazis and extreme rightwing groups. For years, they have been subjected to threats, harassment and attacks directed at their art and themselves. The artists despair at the inability of the state to protect them. By Sanna Samuelsson    INSIGHT  Published in collaboration with Konstnären/The Artist One artist […]

Russia: Cultural freedom under threat

In this article Lena Jonson, Head of the Russia Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm and author of the book ‘Art and protest in Putin’s Russia’, which was published in March 2015, describes that although censorship was forbidden by the Russian Constitution of 1993, since 2012 an informal ideological censorship has […]

Turkey: Young Kurdish singer imprisoned

Al Jazeera has published a video by a Turkish-Kurdish filmmaker about the Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak. The singer’s future is uncertain, because the Turkish government allegedly has convicted her to 10.5 years imprisonment for “promoting Kurdish propaganda”, according to Al Jazeera. Published on Youtube on 30 April 2015 Maker of the documentary film, Eylem Kaftan, […]

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, […]

Freemuse and PEN submit joint report about Lebanon to UN

On 23 March 2015, Freemuse, Pen International and Pen Lebanon submitted a Universal Periodic Review about Lebanon to the United Nations – for consideration at the 23rd session of the UN working group in October 2015. “Lebanon rather than supporting its creative industries and artists is making several hindrances to artistic freedom and creativity through […]

Afghanistan: Performance artist receives death threats

27-year-old Kubra Khademi’s street performance stunt protesting against sexual harassment lasted less than 10 minutes, but pictures soon ricocheted around social media, drawing anger and death threats – genuine worries in a country where women have been murdered for working as news anchors, actors and singers. She has now gone into hiding. “Her audience, almost […]

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 […]

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 […]

Belgium: Film festival closed after terrorist threats

‘The Ramdam festival of disturbing films’ in the Belgian town Tourni has been closed after terrorist threats. After a court decision, Police sealed the area around the cinema complex Imagix for the entire duration of the festival. “Since its foundation in 2011, the festival Ramdam has given word to pluralistic sensitivities and values advocating openness […]

India: Writer faces death threats and book burning

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

USA: Sony Pictures cancels film premiere after intimidation and threats

Sony Pictures has cancelled the premiere of a US$44 million comedy film about the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader, ‘The Interview’. The cancellation comes after the hacking of Sony’s computer system and threats of terror. In June 2014, North Korea called the movie an act of war and promised “a merciless counter-measure” if it […]

South Africa: Artist threatened for public space art project

The South African artist Michael Elion has been threatened by users on social media for his giant public space art project ‘Madiba glasses’. The heated debate surrounding his sunglasses installation Perceiving Freedom, his tribute to Nelson Mandela, eliciting violent responses from some of the users online. It all came to a head when he discovered […]

China: Censored poet and exiled musician sidetrack oppression

Thanks to Internet connectivity, Tibetan artists inside and outside Tibet are finding new ways to communicate and collaborate. But to the Tibetans inside Tibet, this is at a high risk. By Dechen Pemba   “Music is like the wings of a bird that can fly over man-made borders.” Woeser In July 2013, a musical collaboration […]

Iraq: Kurdish singer receives death threats over music video

Kurdish singer Helly Luv, 25, allegedly received death threats from ISIS Islamist militants since release of her first music video in February 2014. Helly Luv’s music video combines traditional Middle Eastern pop imagery with materials of the Kurdish nationalist and revolutionary movement. The music video was viewed over three million times in its first five months. […]

YouTube: Threats to block indie labels who don’t sign up to new music service

Independent artists could disappear from YouTube “in a matter of days” after the Google video service confirmed it was dropping content from independent labels that have not signed up for its upcoming subscription music service.  The company’s head of content and business operations, Robert Kyncl, confirmed that YouTube will block videos from labels that do not […]

Turkey: Artistic freedom of expression under threat

A piece of art was censored in November 2013 during the exhibition titled ‘Will There Be An Intervention?’ at the 23rd Istanbul Art Fair. The exhibit was primarily focused on works of art inspired by the Gezi Park protests, and it included many secular-minded domestic and foreign artists. The censored piece was a portrait of […]

Israel: Gaza cartoonist receives death threats

Gaza artist Majida Shaheen has been threatened for drawing a cartoon that ‘demonized’ Islamic Jihad. When Majida Shaheen on 22 January 2013 drew and published a cartoon on her Facebook page depicting Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh trying to tame an angry dog with the name “Al-Quds Brigades” — the military wing of Islamic Jihad […]

Cuba: Rappers persecuted – beaten, ransacked, arrested

Excerpt of blog-post by John Suarez at “The importance of generating and maintaining attention is critically important for anyone who dissents from the official government line. Rodolfo Ramirez, known by his rapping name as El Primario, member of the hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito, who appears in the above video was so badly […]

Turkey: Playwright and author exiled after death threats

In the days after the Gezi Park protests in 2013, Turkish playwright and author Meltem Arikan found herself at the centre of a government-led hate campaign that left her fearing for her life. Arikan, now living in the United Kingdom, left Turkey because of the vicious and sustained campaign against her on social media and […]

Zimbabwe: Banned playwright and visual artist isolated

Playwright Cont Mhlanga and artist Owen Maseko have been harassed, arrested and detained for criticising the government – but while they have been made personae non gratae in Zimbabwe’s art circles, they have not stopped doing what they love. The two artists were portrayed by Inter Press Service, reporting from Bulawayo on 27 December 2013. […]

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 […]

Denmark: Police threat assessment stops event with young poet

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

Zimbabwe: Visual artist challenges charges of insulting president

The use of insult-laws to criminalise freedom of expression by president Robert Mugabe’s administration was under focus on 30 October 2013 when the Constitutional Court heard a challenge brought before the highest court by persecuted visual artist Owen Maseko, reported Radio VOP. Bulawayo-based Owen Maseko is described as one of the Zimbabwe’s most talented artists. […]

Tanzania: Musician receives death threats for political song

Tanzanian hip-hop artist Nay wa Mitego has been receiving death threats following the release of his new song ‘Salaam Zao’ (‘Greetings’) in August 2013. The rap song’s lyrics are said to have been detested by a powerful section of the population. “They are sending text messages to try silence me. I received the first death […]

Iran: Interview with theatre director Tinoush Nazmjou about censorship

In this interview with IranWire, the exiled theatre director Tinoush Nazmjou – one of Iran’s prominent young directors – talks about his enthusiasm for returning to Iran and experimenting with creative work under an atmosphere heavy with limitations. He talks about the creative contrast between working freely and under censorship, Iran’s theatre scene, and how social […]

Nigeria: Writers face censorship and repression | PEN

Nigerian writers and journalists are facing relentless attempts by state and non-state actors to suppress political criticism and to censor film and music productions, said PEN International as Nigeria’s human rights record comes under scrutiny at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. “Colonial era legislation and Shar’ia law are used to […]

Denmark: Police investigate death threats to young poet

The 18-year-old poet Yahya Hassan received 27 threats on Facebook after a tv-interview on the Danish tv-channel DR2 where he openly criticized his parents for the way they brought him up. Yahya Hassan reported the threats to police, who have made a legal assessment of all 27 threats and reportedly are further investigating six of […]

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 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 […]

Turkey: Actor allegedly persecuted by newspaper

“My life is not secure, I have applied for protection through my lawyers,” said the Turkish actor Memet Ali Alabora who directed and acted himself in a theatre piece entitled ‘Mi Minör’ to support the protestors around Gezi in Istanbul. Yeni Şafak newspaper made an extensive coverage on Mi Minör, saying that it was the […]

Turkey: Persecuted folk band Grup Yorum in centre of attention

The development in Turkey has given the Istanbul-based folk music band Group Yorum new fame and publicity around the world. On 18 June, Group Yorum signed a statement along with many other Turkish musicians who condemn police violence and what they term as “the government’s abuse of power in Turkey”. Rumors are circulating that the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Cameroon: Abducted filmmaker found with a finger cut

On 3 April 2013, the young filmmaker Richard Djimeli was found lying in the bush in the Mendong neighbourhood in the capital Yaoundé. One of his fingers had been cut. The kidnapping of Richard Fouofie Djimeli (also called Richard Djiff), a young film maker and multitalented artist, sent shock waves across the Cameroonian public, reported […]

Cameroon: Young filmmaker threatened, abducted and disappeared

Freemuse received news on 28 March 2013 that filmmaker Richard Fouofie Djimeli was abducted on 24 March in his house because of a film he has produced which is a homage to all those that lost their life trying to defend and assure the freedom of expression. Six of the film’s actors received death threats. […]

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 […]

Azerbaijan: Writer Akram Aylisli under threat

A highly regarded novelist, Akram Aylisli, has had his life put in danger as angry protestors have gathered outside his home, burning copies of his book, and an opposition figure issued threats against him. A ransom of 9,500 euro has been announced to anyone who cut off Akram Aylisli’s ear. The source of the outcry […]

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 […]

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 […]

Colombia: Ten rappers murdered for criticizing the system

Ten rappers have been murdered in the last two years in the Colombian city Medellín. Their “crime”: that they volunteered to help getting young people away from paramilitary groups and drug gangs. 14 rappers have gone underground, and even more fear for their lives, reported the Danish newspaper Arbejderen. An article in the Danish newspaper […]

Egypt: Film team received death threats before release

After many battles with the Egyptian authorities over its release, the film ‘Al-Molhid’ (The Atheist) was passed by the Egyptian censorship committee without any scenes being removed, but the team behind the film has been receiving death threats from radicals in the country. Film producer Adham Afifi told Egyptian media that the film team has […]

Persecuted Iraqi writer given two years’ safe haven in Denmark

The Iraqi writer Suhail Sami Nader arrived with his wife to Copenhagen, Denmark, on 23 October 2012 as the municipality’s first ‘safe haven’ author. The 65-year-old writer is persecuted in his home country because of his writing. In recent years Suhail Sami Nader has been living in Amman, the capital of the neighbouring country Jordan. […]

Iranian musician responds upright to death threats

This interview with Shahin Najafi and Günter Wallraff took place five months after a fatwa – a death sentence – was issued against the singer and rapper Shahin Najafi. It proclaimed him an apostate for recording the rap-song ‘Ay Naghi’ and sentenced him to death under Islamic law. The assault ensured that the name ‘Shahin […]

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 […]

Deeyah speaks out at the Oslo Opera House

Music has stopped in Northern Mali due to attacks from religious extremists. But even in Europe singers have been threatened and silenced. In 1996 Norwegian born Deeyah moved from Oslo to London after threats. Continuing her career in the UK, her performances however led to difficult confrontations with orthodox Muslims, whose threats eventually made it […]

Iran: New threats to Salman Rushdie

An Iranian state-run institute has increased the bounty on the head of the British author Salman Rushdie to about 3.3 million US dollars. In a statement published by the semi-official Iranian news agency Isna and other local agencies, Hassan Sanei, head of the state-funded 15 Khordad, who is also the representative of the Iranian supreme […]

Nepal: Death threats against artist who painted Hindu deities

Manish Harijan, a Nepali artist, whose works are on show at an art gallery in Kathmandu, has received death threats from activists of the Nepal-based World Hindu Federation in reaction to his paintings which combine images of Hindu deities and Western superheroes, reported UNESCO on 14 September 2012. In particular, a painting by Manish Harijan […]

China: Provocative artists intimidated with seizures and imprisonment

Issue 34 of the German magazine Der Spiegel contains a long article about how authorities in China allegedly intimidate provocative artists with tax laws, seizures, and imprisonment as tools to repress dissident voices. The article is primarily based on interviews with two gallery owners and the 30-year-old artist Zhao Zhao who has been Ai Weiwei’s […]

Afghanistan: Death threats force Afghan actress into hiding

21-year-old actress Sahar Parniyan says she is living a nightmare after a fellow actress, Benafsha, was murdered by unknown men during the Eid celebrations in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. Sahar Parniyan used to perform in Afghan drama serials and tv shows together with 22-year-old Benafsha. Khaama Press reported that she has changed her home address from […]

Iran: Theatre performance permission denied, theatre-goers allegedly harassed

Teheran police have been surrounding theatre halls in large numbers, allegedly in an attempt to make attending these venues uncomfortable for theatre-goers, reported the web site Iranian stage actor Reza Behboudi said in an interview with the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA): “The large number of police patrolling the theatre halls does not help […]

Tunisia: Artists under attack

Art pieces at the ‘Printemps des Arts’ fair in Tunis have caused public outrage for being ‘blasphemous’ and offensive to Islam. The artists involved have received death threats and their works at the art fair were destroyed. The Minister of Culture condemned the artworks, which in return caused an uproar in the Tunisian arts community. […]

Death threat against Germany-based Iranian rapper

After the exiled Iranian rapper and rock guitarist Shahin Najafi released a controversial song entitled ‘Imam Naghi’, an Iranian cleric issued a death sentence (fatwa) against him, a news site in the country started a campaign calling for his assassination, and a religious site issued a reward for killing the Iranian musician. The song ‘Imam […]

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 […]

Vietnam: Poets persecuted by police

When poet Bùi Chát came back from Buenos Aires in April of 2010, where he had received the International Publishers Association’s prize Freedom to Publish, he was greeted at the airport in Saigon by the domestic police, who not only confiscated the prize money and Chát’s computer (throughout the years he has had three computers […]



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