Freemuse: Young Arab leaders discussed music censorship




Young Arab leaders discussed music censorship

Music censorship in the Middle East and North Africa was in focus at a Stockholm seminar on 12 June 2009, rounding up a ‘Young Leaders’ training programme.

Freemuse’s programme manager Ole Reitov joined rapper Behrang Miri from Iran in a discussion with more than 30 social activists who attended The Swedish Institute’s ‘Young Leaders Visitors Program’ — an intercultural leadership programme which focuses on social media as a tool for positive change.

At the seminar held in Sweden’s capital Stockholm, Ole Reitov discussed various trends in the region regarding freedom of expression for musicians and composers.

“At one level censorship laws are still very rigid and non-transparent in most of the MENA countries (the Middle East and North Africa, ed.). At another level it seems that some of the governments and police authorities at the moment apply a policy of ‘repressive tolerance’ to certain music forms, for instance heavy metal,” Ole Reitov said. Freemuse not only took part in the final seminar but also lectured on music censorship as part of the leadership programme.

Working for social change

The programme invites young opinion-makers from countries in the MENA region and Sweden, who are actively working for social change in their respective contexts. Working in teams the young leaders at the final seminar presented various upcoming social and cultural projects making use of new media platforms.

One of the projects presented was — a new social network linking together independent musicians and music producers in MENA.

The Young Leaders Visitors Program integrates four focus areas: Leadership Training, Social Media, Knowledge-building and Practical Experience.

“As music is often at the centre of cultural, political and religious conflicts within societies there’s a growing interest in understanding the mechanisms of music censorship and the work of Freemuse. We therefore welcome the increasing interest amongst international institutions in involving Freemuse in their training programmes,” Ole Reitov said.

Freemuse report

In 2005 Freemuse organised the first ever conference on music censorship in MENA. Entitled ‘All that is banned is desired’, the conference held in Beirut included high profile musicians such as Marcel Khalife as well as religious scholars, journalists and intellectuals. A report was published and is available in English as well as Arabic. (Click on report cover below to read it).

Read more

Social Network (for musicians in MENA region) – continously updated:

Swedish Institute – 2 February 2009:

‘About the Young Leaders Visitors Program’

Freemuse report: Freedom of musical expression in the Middle East
Freemuse report: ‘All that is banned is desired’

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