• 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 […]
  • Freemuse sends letter to Finnish Immigration Service on rejecting musician’s right to asylum

    Freemuse has sent a letter to the Finnish Immigration Service (FIS, otherwise known by its acronym Migri) regarding the case of a musician who applied for asylum in Finland, only to be turned down under the rationale that he can change his profession once he returns to his home country. The musician, whose identity is […]
  • 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 […]
  • Pakistan: Police ban music at weddings in village

    Police in the village of Mattani, a suburb of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province capital Peshawar in northern Pakistan, have banned all music from wedding ceremonies, reported Pakistan’s Express Tribune on 13 March 2017. A local villager told the newspaper that police are not only stopping events, raiding homes that host such banned events, and arresting […]
  • Freemuse addresses women’s issues at UNESCO

    Women artists are at particular risk in many countries and are discriminated from performing in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. This was highlighted during an international seminar at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Women’s International Day, 8 March 2017. Freemuse Executive Director, Ole Reitov shared a panel with Deeyah Khan, filmmaker, producer and […]
  • Freemuse delivers recommendations at UN Human Rights Council session

    Support artists victimized by terror and develop early cultural warning system Freemuse on Monday 6 March 2017 delivered an oral statement at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council on the negative effects of terror on art and cultural industries. Two of the main messages to the Human rights council were that: The international […]
  • Nigeria: Singer arrested, out on bail for releasing uncensored song

    Singer Sadiq Zazzabi (real name: Sadiq Usman Saleh) was released on bail on 6 March 2017 after having been detained since 1 March 2017 for allegedly releasing a song before receiving approval from the Kano State Censorship Board in the country’s north, reported Nigerian newspaper Premium Times on 6 March 2017. The newspaper reported on […]
  • 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 Keyvan 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” […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Music Freedom Day focus on women artists

    In many countries, women’s voices are particularly at risk. On Friday 3 March 2017, Music Freedom Day makes a special focus on women performers and musicians. Events will take place in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe and North America. Artists, activists, broadcasters, cultural organisers and music fans will be celebrating Music Freedom Day globally in […]
  • Tanzania: Artists’ trial postponed for a fifth time

    The case against Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide and music producer Mussa Sikabwe has once again been postponed until 9 March 2017. This is the fifth time their trial date has been pushed. The two artists were initially set to face trial on 12 October 2016 on charges of producing, singing and distributing a song called […]
  • Argentina: City mayor suspends all electronic music festivals

    Mar del Plata mayor, Carlos Arroyo, issued a decree on 10 January 2017 suspending all electronic festivals in response to drug-related deaths in various Argentinian cities. The measure also reportedly aims at preventing drug consumption and reducing the number of clandestine raves, reported El Marplatense on 10 January 2017. The measure was announced despite the […]
  • China: U.S. rock band forced to cut songs from setlists

    Heavy metal band Metallica’s concerts in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai had certain songs removed from their setlists due to China’s censorship policies, reported South China Morning Post on 23 January 2017. Metallica frontman James Hetfield told the newspaper: Why shouldn’t you respect their culture when you’re there as a guest and you’ve been invited […]
  • China: Imprisoned Tibetan singer released after completing sentence

    Tibetan singer Achok Phulshung was released from prison on 2 February 2017 after completing his four-and-a-half year prison sentence for singing songs praising the Dalai Lama and about Tibetans killed in 2008 during peaceful protests, reported The Tibet Post International on 3 February 2017. “We welcome the release of Achok Phushung, but note with great […]
  • Mali: Music festival cancelled due to attacks

    Northern Mali’s Festival au Désert was set to return to Timbuktu on 28 January 2017 after having been in exile since 2012, but Malian officials decided to block it after suicide bombers attacked a military camp in Gao on 18 January 2017, killing 77 people and injuring more than 100 others, reported The Guardian on […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Joint statement regarding the impact of the U.S. immigration ban on artistic freedom

    National and International Cultural and Human Rights Organisations Denounce Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration On 7 February 2017, more than thirty cultural institutions and human rights organisations around the world, including international arts, curators’ and critics’ associations, organizations protecting free speech rights, as well as U.S.-based performance, arts and creative freedom organisations and alliances, issued […]
  • USA: Artists arrested, banned, receive death threats related to Trump actions

    Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli and US singer Jennifer Holliday both backed out from performing at the US presidential inauguration of Donald Trump just days before the event revealing they received death threats if they went ahead with their performances, reported Daily Mail on 15 January 2017. “They were saying I should kill myself or […]
  • USA: Rapper sues city, police over “unlawful” arrest for rap lyrics

    Rapper Tiny Doo (real name: Brandon Duncan) filed a lawsuit against the city of San Diego and two police officers on 10 January 2017 for what he claims was his unlawful arrest in July 2014 on gang conspiracy charges.    The charges were based on rap lyrics about shootings and gang activity featured on Tiny […]
  • China: Ministry of Culture allegedly blacklists 55 artists

    China has allegedly blacklisted 55 artists, mostly musicians, a majority of whom are from Hong Kong and Taiwan, who have participated in pro-democracy movements or expressed political views that China deems objectionable, reported Quartz on 11 January 2017. Hints of the blacklist came a week earlier, on 6 January, when works by some pop artists […]
  • Zambia: Hounded singer remains defiant

    by Phoenix Gauthier, Freemuse correspondent On 11 August 2016, incumbent Zambian president Edgar Lungu squeezed out a controversial victory in the general elections, taking 50.35% of the votes. In the months that followed, Zambia experienced its worst attacks on press freedom in years. Three of its media outlets were suspended, including Muvi TV, the southern […]
  • Burundi: Music censorship or artist protection?

    Since a political crisis hit Burundi in May 2015, tensions have been high between the powers that be and the opposition; the media and civil society have all been involved in this polarising battle; and it seems that the newest victims of this battle are local musicians who now need to pass a “quality test” […]
  • 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: Imprisoned filmmaker granted 72-hour medical leave, back in prison

    Freemuse has learned from its sources that filmmaker Hossein Rajabian was granted a 72-hour medical leave earlier in the week to address health problems that have grown worse while in prison. Hossein was taken back to prison after the three days were up. Hossein and his musician brother Mehdi had been on a second hunger […]
  • YouTube: Video banned for “sexual content” re-appears with disclaimer

    American rapper Mykki Blanco’s latest music video ‘Loner’ was taken down from YouTube on 2 December 2016 as it didn’t meet “community guidelines”; hours later the video was put back on the site, but now with a “content warning” and viewers need to sign in to confirm their age, reported Billboard on 2 December 2016. […]
  • Freemuse at WOMEX 2016: Unspoken Censorship

    On 21 October 2016, Freemuse vice-chair Daniel Brown, participated in a WOMEX 2016 panel and open forum dialogue entitled, ‘Unspoken Censorship: How can artists and media counter it –  and safely live to tell the tale’, to discuss the forces at work behind censorship in music worldwide, over time and today. Panel description The banning […]
  • Argentina: German electronic band’s concert re-instated after appeal

    Authorities in Buenos Aires denied German electronic band Kraftwerk a permit for their performance scheduled for 23 November 2016 due to their use of synthesizers in their show; an instrument included in a judicial ban enacted earlier in the year on electronic festivals. A few days later, the concert’s promoters appealed the decision and a […]
  • Iran: Imprisoned musician’s health deteriorating

    Imprisoned Iranian musician and music distributor Mehdi Rajabian communicated via social media on 3 December 2016 that his health condition continues to worsen, despite him being granted a four-day furlough for medical treatment. In his Instagram post from 3 December, Mehdi said: They want me to go back to Prison tomorrow, while I haven’t been […]
  • Turkey: Seven members of Grup Yorum arrested

    Turkish police arrested seven members of famous folk band Grup Yorum on 23 November 2016 on charges of assault, resisting and insulting police, and being members of a terrorist group, reported Birgün on 24 November 2016. Grup Yorum’s lawyer Aytaç Ünsal told the Turkish newspaper: Even 3 days after they were initially taken into custody, […]
  • Iran: Imprisoned musician granted four-day medical leave

    Musician Mehdi Rajabian, after being on hunger strike for 30 days demanding he and his brother receive much needed medical attention, was given a four-day medical furlough on 27 November 2016, according to an Instagram post the musician posted on 28 November 2016. His filmmaker brother Hossein, who also needs medical assistance, remains in prison. […]
  • Kenya: Film board bans “obscene” music and “offensive” musician names

    Kenya’s Film Classification Board (KFCB) and its head, Ezekiel Mutua, announced on 19 November 2016 that they have issued a ban on local musicians using stage names they consider to be “offensive”, as well as the sale of music that contains “obscene” lyrics or glorifies drug abuse and violence. Mutua announced the news on his […]
  • United Nations member states urge Iran to improve human rights

    Eighty-five United Nations (UN) member states voted on 15 November 2016 calling upon Iranian authorities to take real steps in correcting its human rights record. The resolution builds upon last year’s adopted resolution where Iran accepted 130 recommendations made to its human rights record and practices stemming from the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process […]
  • 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 […]
  • Deeyah Khan to be appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

    Award-winning film director and activist Deeyah Khan will be appointed UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador on artistic freedom on 21 November 2016 by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova at the organisation’s headquarters in Paris. Welcoming the appointment, Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov said: We have worked with Deeyah for many years and jointly addressed the importance of […]
  • Iran: Artists’ medical condition on hunger strike growing worse

    Musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, began their second hunger strike on 28 October 2016, since being imprisoned on 5 June 2016, demanding they receive a medical furlough for their increasingly severe medical conditions, which are growing more severe as a result of the hunger strike, reported International Campaign for Human Rights […]
  • Pakistan: Two suspects arrested over musician’s murder

    Two men suspected of killing Amjad Sabri, one of Pakistan’s most famous singers, among other high-profile killings, were arrested by police as part of a city-wide crackdown in Karachi that netted dozens of arrests after a spate of sectarian shootings that left five dead in late October, reported Reuters on 7 November 2016. Sindh province […]
  • Germany: Foreign ministry cancels controversial concert at consulate in Istanbul

    Germany’s foreign ministry cancelled a 13 November 2016 Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance of ‘Aghet’, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, scheduled to take place at the German consulate in Istanbul, reported Deutsche Welle on 25 October 2016. The ministry said in a short message that “the whole consulate in Istanbul is not available […]
  • Angola: Rappers’ concerts cancelled, one shut down by police

    Rappers Ikonoklasta (real name: Luaty Beirão) and MCK planned to hold joint concert ‘Ikopongo’ on 5 November 2016 at a venue in Angolan capital Luanda, but had to reschedule the event for the next day at a different venue after management cancelled the show; the relocated show was then shut down by police, reported Deutsche […]
  • Freemuse calls for charges dropped against Tanzanian musicians ahead of trial

    Musician Mwana Cotide (real name: Fulgency Mapunda) and music producer Mussa Sikabwe are set to go trial on 9 November 2016 on charges that their recent song ‘Dikteta Uchwara’ (Petty Dictator) contains “seditious and offensive” content towards Tanzanian President John Magufuli. The artists are also charged with “distributing the song with intent to offend” the […]
  • Iran: Musician sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes

    On 5 November 2016, Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) was sentenced to five years in prison and 74 lashes after being found guilty of “spreading Western immorality”, reported Al Bawaba on 6 November 2016. The singer’s original sentence was for ten years and 74 lashes, but the time term was reduced in […]
  • France: TV channel censors political message on rapper’s T-shirt in new video

    In an act that sparked public outrage on social media, French TV channel W9 decided to blur out rapper Black M’s T-shirt when airing his new video for his song ‘Je Suis Chez Moi’ due to a political message referring to a controversial death under police custody, reported Le Parisien on 19 September 2016. The […]
  • Iran: Artists call for support in letter from prison

    “We urge all artists from around the world to show their protest and criticism against all of this [being denied legal rights and medical attention], in a peaceful way, worthy of an artist,” wrote artists Hossein Rajabian and Mehdi Rajabian in a letter from prison. “Stand by our side and [don’t] forget us, because being […]
  • 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 […]
  • Candidates to the UN Human Rights Council are grave violators of artistic expression

    Copenhagen 27 October 2016 | Freemuse is deeply concerned about the candidacies of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Cuba, for seats in the UN Human Rights Council. These countries are leading the league of countries violating freedom of artistic expression and cannot be considered qualified to protect human rights in the Human Rights Council. “The […]
  • New Zealand: Court overturns ban on 2014 political parody song

    New Zealand’s Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s decision to reverse the ban placed on Darren Watson’s song, ‘Planet Key’, and its accompanying animated video by Jeremy Jones, which were released during New Zealand’s 2014 general election and seen as political advertising rather than a parody on Prime Minister John Key, reported New […]
  • Kazakhstan: Pop group banned in some towns on national tour

    The following article on the troubles Kazakhstan’s Korean Pop group, Ninety One, has suffered on its national tour was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 23 October 2016, who have kindly allowed Freemuse to re-publish it here: Flashy Boy Band Roils Some As It Tours Kazakhstan It’s not easy being a boy band in […]
  • 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 […]
  • South Korea: Alleged government blacklist of 9,473 artists over politics

    South Korean daily newspaper Hankook Ilbo revealed on 11 October 2016 that the South Korean government blacklisted 9,473 artists from receiving state support, including financial support, due to their political activity of either being critical of the current government or backing opposition politicians, reported The Korea Times on 12 October 2016. The 100-page blacklist is […]
  • China: Two Tibetan singers released after serving out four-year prison terms

    On 3 October 2016, Tibetan singers Chakdor and Pema Trinley were released from prison after serving out their four-year sentences in a prison in China’s southwestern Sichuan province and have returned to their hometown, reported Radio Free Asia on 6 October 2016. An anonymous source told the news outlet that they were welcomed by their […]
  • Vietnam: Popular music and censorship

    The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship, and the few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party or its policies face serious consequences. Focusing on popular musicians, this article charts the history of music censorship in Vietnam from the mid twentieth century through to the current digital era. […]
  • How can you put a song behind bars: Dario Fo

    Nobel Prizewinner wrote foreword to Freemuse book Dario Fo, famous for his cutting political satire has died at age 90. Fo, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1997, was also a songwriter and during his lifetime experienced censorship not only in Italy, but in many other countries as well. In 2007, he wrote a […]
  • United Kingdom: University cancels musical due to race row

    A theatre at the University of Bristol cancelled all showings of its student production of musical ‘Aida’ due to protests over potential “cultural appropriation” that white students would be cast in the lead roles of ancient Egyptians and slaves, reported The Telegraph on 4 October 2016. The musical, written by Elton John and Tim Rice […]
  • Ukraine: Lawmakers vote against bill banning Russian artists

    Lawmakers in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, voted against a bill that would have restricted all Russian artists who wanted to tour in the country, and would only have been allowed to do so if they submitted a written condemnation of “the occupation of Ukrianian territory” to promoters, reported Billboard on 7 October 2016. The […]
  • Tanzania: Two artists arrested for allegedly insulting president in latest song

    Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide (real name: Fulgency Mapunda) and music producer Mussa Sikabwe were arrested for allegedly producing, singing and distributing a song called ‘Dikteta Uchwara’ (Petty Dictator) that contained “seditious and offensive” content against Tanzanian President John Magufuli, reported the Swahili Times on 29 September 2016. The two artists were charged at the Kisutu […]
  • Germany/Netherlands: Faroese metal band shows cancelled over whaling

    Viking heavy metal band, Týr, from the Faroe Islands, have had at least six concerts of their 17-date November European tour supporting Norwegian metal band Sirenia cancelled over lead singer Heri Joensen’s participation in the Faroese practice of whaling. According to heavy metal news site MetalTalk.net on 30 August 2016, venue owners of club Logo […]
  • 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 […]
  • Ukraine: Government to bar blacklisted Russian singers in European song contest

    The Ukrainian government said on 9 September 2016 that it would deny entry into the country to blacklisted Russian singers competing for the 62nd Eurovision contest set to take place in capital Kiev in May 2017 if they are found to support the separatist cause stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, reported Reuters on 9 […]
  • Morocco: News site publishes blacklist of artists with alleged ties to Israel

    On 9 September 2016, Moroccan news site Noon Presse published its own blacklist of seven Moroccan performers and artists who have “normalised” relations with Israel, which means, according to the site, that the artists have chosen “to go against the flow” by “unashamedly visiting Israel or communicating with Israelis”. The blacklist includes three musicians, two […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 on […]
  • 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 […]
  • Turkey: Court acquits musician of blasphemy charges after four-year ordeal

    An Istanbul court acquitted pianist Fazıl Say on 7 September 2016 of blasphemy charges after a four-year legal battle stemming from a 2012 post he re-tweeted consisting of lines written by 11th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 7 September 2016. The pianist went to trial in October 2012 after three […]
  • Iran: Jailed artists go on hunger strike

    According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, have gone on hunger strike as of 7 September 2016 to protest against prison authorities not granting Mehdi a promised furlough to seek medical attention for a spreading infection and for separating them by moving Mehdi, while still ill, to the section […]
  • USA: Schools reverse radio station ban on buses

    Portland Public Schools in the capital of US western state Oregon have gone back on their ban of particular radio stations on public school buses, which included radio stations playing rap music, reported Oregon Live on 30 August 2016. A memo sent out by director of student transportation Teri Brady on 9 March 2016 listed […]
  • Mauritania: Rapper harassed and attacked by police

    Police stopped Mauritanian rapper Yëro Gaynääko (real name Yéro Abdoulaye Sow) on 16 August 2016 while on the road back to the capital Nouakchott, forcibly removing the rapper out of the car, accusing him of being drugged and taking him to a police station where he was assaulted and verbally abused, reported human rights organisation […]
  • Sierra Leone: Musician allegedly censored due to political song

    Popular musician Emmerson Bockarie claims the government has banned him from playing a concert in Sierra Leone capital Freetown and a radio DJ has said that his station manager told him to not play the artist’s latest hit ‘Munku Boss Pan Matches’ (‘A Kid in a Candy Store’), a 15-minute song that criticises the government […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

    Authorities arrested Iranian singer Amir Tataloo (real name: Amirhossein Maghsoodloo) on 23 August 2016 on charges of “spreading depravity among the youth” brought up in an 8 August 2016 judicial order, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 25 August 2016. “Sadly, this latest imprisonment of Amir Tataloo is not an isolated case. Iranian governmental and […]
  • Malaysia: Artist detained over allegedly “insulting Islam” in music video

    Police detained Malaysian artist Namewee upon his return from being abroad on 21 August 2016 at the Kuala Lampur airport and are investigating him after groups filed reports that his latest music video “insulted Islam”, reported The Star Online on 22 August 2016. “Malaysian authorities must release Namewee and drop all charges against him,” said Freemuse […]
  • Turkey: Singer’s concerts cancelled due to coup-related remarks

    The Turkish government cancelled four concerts by pop star Sıla Gençoğlu over comments she made about a democracy rally held in Istanbul on 7 August 2016 in the aftermath of an attempted coup that happened a month earlier, reported Hurriyet Daily News on 11 August 2016.  “I am absolutely against the coup, but I prefer […]
  • 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 […]
  • Germany: Music festival attacked by suicide bomber

    A 27-year-old Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up outside an open air music festival in the southern German town of Ansbach on 24 July 2016 after security guards turned him away for not having a ticket, reported The Guardian on 25 July 2016. The incident happened on the final evening of the three-day Ansbach Open […]
  • China: State agency reportedly bans South Korean stars over diplomatic feud

    Officials from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television have allegedly passed down “verbal orders” to TV stations that approvals for South Korean programmes or those featuring South Korean stars would not be granted for the time being, reported South China Morning Post on 2 August 2016. Further, according to the new […]
  • Uzbekistan: Suspended artists and instrument bans

    Ever-tightening restrictions on musicians and artists continue to take their toll in Uzbekistan as state-run arts association Uzbeknavo revoked the licenses of three pop artists for holding performances abroad to lacklustre audience numbers, reported Uzbek news outlet UZ24 on 20 July 2016. Uzbeknavo license department head Odiljon Abdukahhar said the association stripped singers Sitora Farmonova, […]
  • 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 […]
  • Tanzania: Rapper banned from music industry indefinitely

    The Tanzanian National Arts Council (Basata) banned popular rapper Nay wa Mitego (real name Emmanuel Elibariki) from participating in the music industry indefinitely due to “immoral content” in his latest song ‘Pale Kati Patamu’, reported Tanzanian news outlet The Citizen on 28 July 2016. “We have barred him from performing in Tanzania indefinitely,” Basata executive […]
  • Pakistan: Music returns to region amid scepticism

    The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the north-western region of Pakistan, announced a fund to support 500 artists, including musicians, in the area by giving them $300 USD per month to create and practice their art, reported Al Jazeera on 27 May 2016. Apart from the fund, the government is also planning on spending $5 […]
  • USA: Anti-Donald Trump song censored

    US presidential nominee Donald Trump and the secret service demanded changes be made to two songs by rapper YG on his latest album released in June 2016 for anti-Trump lyrics, reported entertainment news outlet Vulture on 16 June 2016. The two censored songs – ‘FDT’ (an abbreviation for Fuck Donald Trump) and ‘Blacks and Browns’ […]
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: US rapper arrested, fined for profane lyrics

    Local police in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis arrested US rapper 50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson) on 25 June 2016 for using “indecent language” onstage during one of his songs. The rapper later pleaded guilty to the offence, paid a fine of USD $1,100 and was released, reported Rolling Stone […]
  • Guinea: Increasing censorship and pressure on leading musicians

    The 2010 election of longtime opponent Alpha Kondé as president of Guinea brought with it hope that music and other forms of artistic expression would enjoy relatively untrammelled freedom. Such optimism rode on the wave of a burgeoning hip hop scene, an established roster of international stars, a post-independence policy of preserving traditional music and […]
  • Somalia: Security forces arrest musician

    Security forces in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, arrested musician Farhan Hidig (Farxaan Xidig) in late June 2016 due to him visiting Mogadishu and remains in custody, according to Freemuse sources. According to local media sources the musician was arrested in connection to his political activity. Somaliland authorities have not commented yet on Hidig’s arrest. While […]
  • Saudi Arabia: Emir bans playing and carrying of musical instruments in region

    Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal of the eastern region of Makkah banned the playing and carrying of musical instruments, headphones and speakers in public places within all governorates in the region on 16 June 2016, reported several local news sources, including the Saudi Gazette, Emirates 24/7 and Gulf Digital News, on 16 June 2016. The directive […]
  • Ukraine: Belarusian singer denied entry due to Crimea concert

    Belarusian singer Max Korzh was denied entry into Ukraine on 17 February 2016 where he was due to go on his five-city tour in the country in early March, reported BBC Ukraine on 26 February 2016. While organisers said the tour would be postponed until later in the year, press secretary for Ukraine’s security service […]
  • Malta: Rock band dropped from festival over frontman’s Facebook posts

    Maltese rock band Brikkuni have been dropped from the Farsons Beer Festival by the beverage company due to Facebook comments lead singer Mario Vella posted about the prime minister’s wife, reported Malta Today on 27 June 2016. Vella’s post was covered extensively by the prime minister’s party media company which asked if Farsons would react […]
  • 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 […]
  • Central African Republic: Rapper beaten by army general

    In early June 2016, Central African Republic rapper Vey-Zo was beaten at a bar in the capital city of Bangui by army general Roman Guitizia, put into the trunk of a car and taken to an army base where he was further tortured, according to information posted by civil society organisation Arterial Network on 30 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Nigeria: Musician kidnapped, found, later detained allegedly due to song

    Musician Ado Daukaka was abducted in Adamawa State in north-eastern Nigeria in the early hours of 25 June 2016 just after the release of his latest anti-corruption song ‘Gyara Kayanka’ (‘Put your house in order’), and found five days later on 29 June 2016 unconscious in some bushes 80 kilometres away from state capital of […]
  • UN: “Artistic expression is not a crime” – Special Rapporteurs urge the Iranian government to free jailed artists

    On 24 June 2016 the two United Nations Special Rapporteurs on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, and freedom of expression, David Kaye, issued a statement calling on Iranian authorities to free musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian. The statement was also endorsed by the Special Rapporteurs on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and torture Mr. […]
  • 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 […]
  • Russia: Music video censored for having same-sex kiss

    A video by the British electronic band Years and Years for its single ‘Desire’ has been censored in Russia by blurring out a scene wherein the lead singer kisses another man, reported British magazine Digital Spy on 11 June 2016. Russia has been making headlines over its laws on homosexuality, including a law proposed in […]
  • Nigeria: Singer’s songs banned by DJ association after on-stage slap

    The Nigerian Association of Deejays (DJAN) lifted its ban on Terry G’s songs after the singer publicly apologised for slapping DJ Phriz on stage at a show in a Lagos club on 5 June 2016, reported Nigerian online news source Pulse on 21 June 2016. On 8 June 2016, Pulse reported that DJAN, an association […]
  • Senegal: Singer arrested and detained for indecency

    Singer Déesse Major was arrested and released after three days of detention on indecency and assault on morality charges brought on by complaints of the artist wearing provocative clothes, reported French global radio RFI on 22 June 2016. Troubles for the singer began in October 2014 when Adama Mboup, president of the Senegalese Committee for […]
  • South Sudan: Minister bans foreign music on radio station

    Joseph Natale Subuni, the minister of information and communications of the newly created Gbudwe State in South Sudan, banned the playing of foreign music over local Yambio FM radio while giving a public commemoration speech, reported Paris-based news site Sudan Tribune on 16 May 2016. “With effect from now, no more playing foreign music over […]
  • Ghana: Music union calls for regulation on obscene lyrics

    The Musician Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has urged musicians to refrain from using profane and obscene lyrics in their songs, asked radio and tv station operators to act as gatekeepers in this regard, and called upon Parliament to step in where the National Media Commission has failed to regulate what music goes on the airwaves, […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Egypt: Heavy metal concert cancelled, three arrested

    Concert promoter and musician Nader Sadek, along with two others, were arrested by Giza police when they stopped a heavy metal concert on 4 June 2016 featuring Brazilian band Sepultura before it even started due to a lack of permits, reported Ahram Online on 5 June 2016. Head of the Giza Security Directorate General Ahmed […]
  • Iran: Eight producers arrested for “obscene” music videos

    Eight producers of music videos broadcasted on Persian-language satellite networks outside Iran have been arrested, reported Iranian judiciary news agency Mizan Online on 28 May 2016. According to Tehran prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi the videos were “obscene” and “broadcast on a famous anti-revolutionary television channel” and added that a special court for media and […]
  • Iran: Musician and filmmaker imprisoned

    According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, were imprisoned for their art on 5 June 2016. They have been convicted to three years imprisonment. Please help us in getting the charges dropped against the two artists and freeing Mehdi and Hossein by taking action and sharing the video below and using the […]
  • Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker summoned to prison

    A summons order issued on 27 May 2016 by Iranian authorities requires musicians Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian to turn themselves in to prison by 31 May 2016 to serve out their three-year sentences. The summons orders them to report to the Office of the Prosecutor at Tehran’s Evin Prison. “Art is […]
  • 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 […]
  • Tanzania: Artist banned from performing due to “immoral” video

    Snura Mushi’s latest popular hit ‘Chura’ has not only led Tanzanian authorities to ban the video and its distribution on 4 May 2016, just days after the video hit the internet, but they have also banned the artist from performing until the video is edited, Tanzanian newspaper Daily News reported on 5 May 2016. The […]
  • France: Mayor cancels WWI centenary concert over rapper’s “anti-France” lyrics

    Verdun city mayor Samuel Hazard cancelled French rapper Black M’s concert commemorating the 100-year anniversary of WWI’s Battle of Verdun due to protests fuelled by far-right website’s fdesouche.com post on the rapper’s “anti-France” and homophobic lyrics, reported French radio station RFI on 14 May 2016. The site, along with National Front party members, in particular […]
  • Nigeria: Broadcast authority blacklists yet another one of rapper’s songs

    Nigerian hip hop star Olamide has had a fourth song, ‘Don’t Stop’, placed on the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) blacklist in less than a year, reported The Net on 16 March 2016. In a statement, NBC said it banned the song from the country’s airwaves due to its “obscenity, being indecent, [and having] vulgar languages, […]
  • 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 […]
  • Egypt: Radio station bans mahraganat song

    Ahmed Sameer, president of Cairo’s Nagham FM radio station, has banned Mahmoud al-Laithi and female singer Bossi’s mahraganat song ‘Bonbonaia’ (meaning candy) from the station, reported Youm7.com on 18 April 2016. Sameer’s order came after Ahmed al-Shenawi’s show ‘My Beloved People’ aired the song, which Sameer said contained explicit lyrics that “do not match Egyptian […]
  • Germany: Turkey attempts to stop EU funding orchestra performance

    Markus Rindt, the director of the Dresden Symphony, has claimed that Turkey has demanded the European Commission (EC) pull its 200,000 Euros funding from the ‘Aghet’ art project, in which his orchestra will perform a piece on 30 April 2016 marking the 101-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, reported The Independent on 25 April 2016. […]
  • 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 […]
  • Germany: Rock band sues government for “indexing” album

    Hard rock band Rammstein is suing the German government for 66,000 Euros (approx. $75,000 USD) in damages for essentially banning their 2009 album ‘Liebe ist für alle da’ upon its release, when they placed it on a restricted list that limited its potential success, reported Deutsche Welle on 5 April 2016. The band claims they […]
  • 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, […]
  • Turkey: Baby donkeys, insults and presidents

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is notorious for bringing thousands of his citizens, including many artists, up on insult charges ever since he took power in 2014. Freemuse continues to report on the president’s repression of artistic expression; and while he currently tries to force another country – Germany – to do the same on his behalf, artists […]
  • Uzbekistan: The naked truth about state censorship

    The Uzbekistan government tightens its control over the arts, prohibiting anything that is believed to threaten national values – including 700 films which have been banned, and musicians who have their performing licenses withdrawn. Censorship was a key instrument for controlling the masses during Soviet times. These days Uzbekistan’s ageing President Islam Karimov — who served as […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Niger: Cameroonian singer denied entry visa to hold concert

    Nigerian authorities denied Cameroonian singer Franko an entry visa to Niger on moral grounds that his current hit, ‘Coller la petite’, “violates the customs of the country”, reported music industry news portal Music in Africa on 15 February 2016. The singer was scheduled to hold a concert in Niamey on 13 February 2016. Franko’s viral […]
  • Tunisia: Singer banned from working due to suggestive video

    The Tunisian Musicians Syndicate has banned singer Hana al Zughlami aka Tunisian Naglaa from working in the country under accusations she promoted vice and immorality in her latest video and single ‘La Ykhebbesh Wala Ydebbish’, reported news site Al Bawaba on 31 March 2016. The syndicate has also stated that legal action would be taken […]
  • USA: Rapper sent back to prison for allegedly threatening attorney in song

    Rapper and alleged gang member Sean Chung, who was out on bail for murder conspiracy and gun charges, was sent back to prison on 22 February 2016 for a song he posted on YouTube in November 2015 in which he allegedly threatened a Queens, New York district attorney, reported New York Daily News on 7 […]
  • Burundi: Musician detained for insulting head of state

    Cedric Bangirinama, a musician also known as Bangy, was arrested on 27 January 2016 by SNR agents from Burundi’s national intelligence service for statements he made on his personal Facebook account that were deemed “insulting to the head of state”, French-language Burundi news portal Iwacu reported on 2 February 2016. Witnesses say they saw agents […]
  • 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 […]
  • Mexico: Two more states ban narcocorridos

    The governors of the states of Sinaloa and Coahuila are imposing restrictions on public performances of narcocorridos and movimiento alterado artists, joining the state of Chihuahua, which was the first state in the newest round to ban narcocorridos beginning in 2015. There are now three states in Mexico imposing limitations to these music genres, which […]
  • 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 […]
  • Kenya: LGBT music video banned

    The Kenyan Film and Classification Board banned Art Attack’s video for its remix of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ gay rights song ‘Same Love’ on the grounds that “it does not adhere to the morals of the country”, Kenyan newspaper The Star reported on 23 February 2016. Board chairman Ezekiel Mutua also said that the video […]
  • Music Freedom Day: What does censorship sound like? Listen to Freemuse on Spotify

    To highlight censored songs and artists throughout history, Music Freedom Day presents a playlist of 60 songs – available on Spotify – that highlights the theme of the event. This year, Music Freedom Day reaches out to the global digital community through Spotify with a powerful message defending artistic freedom of expression for musicians. Listen to the playlist and […]
  • Music Freedom Day: Musician sentenced to imprisonment sells instrument to pay fine

    The freedom to express oneself through art is a human right to be rejoiced. Today is Music Freedom Day, a day to celebrate musicians, their songs and the fans and audiences who enjoy their craft and performances. But also on this day, we bring attention to the many musicians who are not able to practice […]
  • Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker sentenced

    Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court has issued their final judgment on Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, sentencing each of the three artists to three years in prison, three years probation and a 200 million rial (about  USD 6,600) fine, reported the Human Rights Activists News Agency on 29 February 2016. According to a source of […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 new outlet that the boy, Ayham Hussein, was caught listening to pop music in his father’s grocery store […]
  • Iran: Singer banned from tv and festival

    Salar Aghili has been banned from appearing on Iranian television and performing in the country’s Fajr International Music Festival, reported human rights organisation journalismisnotacrime.com on 26 January 2016. The famous singer was banned due to his appearance on Manoto TV, a Persian-language satellite channel based in London. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati […]
  • Iran: 165 Iranian artists and activists protest charges against two musicians and a filmmaker

    165 Iranian musicians, filmmakers, writers and activists have signed and released a statement objecting to the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of Mehdi Rajabian, a musician and founder of BargMusic, an alternative music distributor in Iran, along with his filmmaker brother Hossein Rajabian and musician Yousef Emadi. All three have been sentenced to six years […]
  • Egypt: Arts unions granted legal powers to self-police

    On 9 November 2015 Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Zend granted judicial police status, or “Al Dabtia Al Kadaeia”, to both the musician’s and actor’s trade unions, effectively meaning that unions members can now legally police and regulate themselves, reported news site Dotmsr.com The controversial decision was further compounded when, on the same day, El-Zend conferred […]
  • Ukraine: Italian opera singer cancels concerts in Crimea

    After the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture said on 18 January 2016 that it would cancel Italian opera singer Alessandro Safina’s concerts in the country since he also scheduled performances in Crimea, the singer announced on 22 January 2016 that he would cancel his two dates in the contested region, reported Ukraine Today. Safina said he […]
  • Egypt: Government cancels concert marking revolution anniversary

    The band Elawela Balady posted on its Facebook page that they were informed by the Ministry of State of Antiquities to cancel a concert they had scheduled on 24 January 2016 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, reported The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. The cancellation comes despite the fact […]
  • Turkey: Children’s play banned due to “inappropriate” song

    A play that has been staged for children for the last 14 years was banned in the Çankaya District Directorate of Education of Turkey’s capital Ankara for having one song deemed “inappropriate”, reported Today’s Zaman on 14 January 2016. Playwright Serap Gültekin told newspaper Radikal that the application to stage her play ‘My Chess Pieces’ […]
  • China/Taiwan: Singers banned for nationalist statements and actions

    Taiwanese-born singer Michael Huang’s songs and appearances on shows have been banned on Taiwanese media after he made critical comments against a teen pop star holding up the island’s flag during her appearance on a TV show, reported Now K Pop. On 8 January 2016 Huang posted a message on popular Chinese micro-blogging site Sina […]
  • 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 […]
  • Egypt: Union president suspends six singers from performing

    Hani Shaker, controversial president of the Egyptian Musicians Syndicate, issued a decision to suspend six singers from being able to work as artists based on their behaviours during performances, reported Al Arabya News. Shaker stated that their behaviour was not in line with public morals as they wore “body revealing clothes” and acted “racy” and […]
  • Nigeria: Singer detained for song critical of politician

    Singer Baba Iyali was arrested on 9 January 2016 in the Adamawa state in north-eastern Nigeria for a song he recently released criticising the speaker of the Adamawa state house of assembly, Kabiru Mijinyawa. This was reported by the online news site The Whistle. The singer remains in detention in police headquarters in reportedly inhuman […]
  • Indonesia: Punk documentary released worldwide

    In Banda Aceh, on the northwestern tip of the island of Sumatra, there is a small and often misunderstood group of punks that have become labelled as a “social disease” as Shari’a law continues to grow over the last 10 years since the Indian Ocean tsunami. ‘Street Punk! Banda Aceh’, a documentary just released worldwide […]

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