Russia: Artistic freedom threatened by nationalist and orthodox groups

6 January 2017

Religious orthodoxy and political nationalism continue to be the main motivations behind attacks on artistic freedom in Russia

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 2 December 2016.

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Tanzania: Two artists arrested for allegedly insulting president in latest song

5 October 2016

The case against Tanzanian musician Mwana Cotide and music producer Mussa Sikabwe has been postponed for a twelfth time to 11 October 2017.

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 …

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Iran: Concerts in the crosshairs

2 September 2016

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 …

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Iran: Musician arrested on charges of “spreading depravity”

2 September 2016

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 …

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Tanzania: Rapper banned from music industry indefinitely

10 August 2016

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 …

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USA: Anti-Donald Trump song censored

9 August 2016

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 …

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Senegal: Singer arrested and detained for indecency

22 June 2016

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 …

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Tanzania: Artist banned from performing due to “immoral” video

19 May 2016

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 …

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Lebanon: Authorities ban song on grounds of offending God

17 May 2016

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 …

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Turkey: “Music that sexually turns on people is a sin”

17 May 2016

Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdoğan’s rule. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa – a religious ban – on ‘sexual’ music. The latest victim of this arbitrary repression is an imam who runs a rockband and opposes the Directorate’s fatwa from a …

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Uzbekistan: The naked truth about state censorship

20 April 2016

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 …

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Niger: Cameroonian singer denied entry visa to hold concert

6 April 2016

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 …

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Tunisia: Singer banned from working due to suggestive video

6 April 2016

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 …

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Singapore: Madonna banned from performing sensitive song

9 March 2016

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 …

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Kenya: LGBT music video banned

7 March 2016

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 …

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Egypt: Union president suspends six singers from performing

14 January 2016

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 …

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South Korea: TV bans sexy music video

13 November 2015

Korean television has banned K-pop star Jay Park’s latest music video due to its sexual imagery, The Korea Times reported. The video for Park’s lead single, ‘You Know,’ from his new album features Park dancing with fellow K-pop star HyunA. South Korean monitors gave the video a 19+ parental advisory …

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Egypt: Resolution against revealing clothing and “vulgar” lyrics

30 September 2015

Egypt’s Musicians’ Union bans artists from wearing “indecent” clothing and using “vulgar” vocabulary on stage and television in a resolution passed at the end of August 2015. Hani Shaker, the newly elected head of the union, aims to continue to promote Egyptian art, but not at the expense of the …

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USA: Country stations ban song for promoting gay agenda

13 April 2015

The country song ‘Girl Crush’ by Little Big Town has been banned by some American country stations after listeners complained it ‘promotes the gay agenda’. This despite the fact that the song is about wanting back an ex, and just includes lyrics detailing the attractiveness of his new girlfriend. The …

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India: Singer calls for a censor board in the music industry

27 January 2015

“Like movies, censorship of music is a must and should be implemented immediately in our industry. This is the only way to preserve the sanctity of our music,” the renowned Indian singer Sukhwinder Singh told Times of India. He is displeased with the “visible vulgarity in present-day songs”. Sukhwinder Singh …

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Sudan: Two singers receive fine and singing ban

5 January 2015

In November 2014, the Sudanese authorities banned the two singers of Hamadat group, Hamada al Rahima and Hamada Bahry, from singing until they had been approved by authorities, and until they promise to stop singing what the authorities describe as ‘ribald’ songs – indecent songs that refer to sexual indications …

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United Kingdom: Two concerts with Ugandan rapper cancelled

5 August 2014

Ugandan rapper Bobi Wine (real name: Robert Kyagulanyi) has had two planned performances in the UK pulled after venues learned of the singer’s anti-LGBTI stance, reported Gay News Network on 31 July 2014. A theatre in London and a venue in Birmingham have refused to host upcoming shows by the …

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USA: High school marching band’s playlist censored

28 July 2014

A high school marching band in central Pennsylvania can’t perform hit songs by Bruno Mars and Fall Out Boy because of their suggestive lyrics. A Lancaster County school board this week stood behind an administrative decision to remove two Top 40 hits from its high school marching band’s upcoming repertoire …

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Myanmar/Burma: Freedom of expression in transition | Index on Censorship

29 July 2013

The third section of Index on Censorship’s report, ‘Freedom of expression in transition’, is about artistic freedom of expression and censorship within literature, comedy, visual art, performance art, music, and film in Burma. The report is written by Mike Harris, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, and was published …

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South Korea: Teenagers prohibited from attending American pop concert

2 April 2012

  American pop singer Lady Gaga’s upcoming Seoul concert has been restricted to over-18s by the Korea Media Rating Board, as the Gender Ministry considers one of her songs, ‘Just Dance’ which is to be performed at the show, as “inappropriate” for minors, reported The Korea Herald. The Korean Association …

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Indonesia: Dangdut songs banned for ‘corrupting society’

29 March 2012

  10 popular Dangdut songs were banned in a province of Indonesia for being ‘pornographic’, reported BBC News. In BBC-reporter Karishma Vaswani’s words, Dangdut music sounds like “a cross between techno and Bollywood, but it is 100 per cent Indonesian.” A growing and vocal group of conservative Muslims in Indonesia …

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Malawi: Broadcaster bans two songs for ‘un-Malawian words’

14 November 2011

  Because of erotic lyrics with “sensitive and un-Malawian words”, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation has banned a Zambian and a Nigerian hit song. On 12 November 2011, a Zambian hit song by Day-Vee, ‘Love Farmer’, and the Nigerian hit song ‘Sawa Sawa’ by DJ Flavour was reported by Malawi Today to …

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DR Congo: Censorship commission’s music ban leads to arrest

5 September 2011

A tv programme director was arrested for having broadcasted an allegedly ‘immoral’ music video with the Congolese band Zaïko Langa Langa This was reported by Journalist in Danger (Journaliste En Danger, JED) in Kinshasa. Junior Kudur Kasongo was arrested on Tuesday 30 August 2011 at the head office of CMC …

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Canada: Ban lifted on Dire Straits’ song ‘Money For Nothing’

2 September 2011

  ‘Money for Nothing’ was pronounced unfit for Canadian ears in January 2011 after a listener’s complaint about the word faggot in the lyrics. The ban on the song has now been lifted and Canadian radio stations can resume playing the song, reported BBC News on 1 September 2011. The …

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South Korea: In the past two years 2,607 songs have been banned

29 July 2011

  The South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality & Family has caused distress amongst fans in recent months for a series of bans they’ve made on songs they considered ‘hazardous media’ to the youth. In this context, a representative clarified that a total of 2,607 songs have been banned by …

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UK / USA: ‘Offending’ album title covered with sticker

6 June 2011

The popular British rock band Arctic Monkeys’ new album is entitled ‘Suck It And See’ – a phrase which causes a stir in the United States where major stores will cover the offending album title by a big sticker. When the indie-rock band from a suburb of Sheffield publishes its fourth …

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Uzbekistan: Rock and rap music denounced as ‘evil’

23 February 2011

Uzbekistan’s state television issued an unequivocal denunciation of rock and rap music as a Western liberal excess, saying the music was epitomized by sadism, drug addiction and immorality, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) on 21 February 2011. AFP reported that a tv documentary made in the style of a Soviet propaganda …

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Canada: Old Dire Straits hit song deemed unacceptable for broadcast

1 February 2011

‘Money for Nothing’, a song by the rock band Dire Straits, was pronounced unfit for Canadian ears after a lone woman in Newfoundland complained about the word faggot in the lyrics. 25 years after the song ‘Money for Nothing’ first took off on the charts, one unnamed person who self-identifies …

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India: Authorities close tv channel for broadcasting vulgar music videos

19 November 2010

The Indian Information and Broadcasting Ministry has closed SS Music, a multi-lingual music channel, for seven days for showing nudity. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has prohibited the transmission or re-transmission of SS Music on any platform throughout India with effect from midnight on 22 November till midnight on 29 …

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Germany: Expelled from teachers collage for playing death metal

10 May 2010

Thomas Gurrath is a member of the Stuttgart-based death metal band Debauchery. Until 28 March 2010 he was training to become a grammar school teacher in the German state Baden-Württemberg. But when his supervisors found out about his musical activities with Debauchery, he was given the choice of either abandoning …

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Iran: 80 young people arrested at illegal concert

10 May 2010

Iranian police detained 80 young men and women for “lustful pleasure-seeking” activities at an illegal concert, Tehran’s chief prosecutor was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying.     Public prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi was quoted in the Kayhan newspaper on 7 May 2010 as saying that moral security police …

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Turkey: American music video banned for ‘explicit sexual content’

14 September 2009

American pop stars Justin Timberlake and Ciara’s music video for the song ‘Love Sex Magic’ was banned in Turkey due to its explicit sexual content.   Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council banned all tv channels from showing the video. The video shows Ciara licking Timberlake’s ear as both hitmakers …

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Nigeria: Proceedings against composer of banned song

9 July 2009

A popular Hausa singer in Kano in Northern Nigeria, Ala (real name: Aminu Ladan Abubakar), was arrested in Kano on 4 July 2009 for publishing his song ‘Hasbunallahu’ — a song which was banned by a mobile court judge linked to the Kano State Censorship Board Ala’s song ‘Hasbunallahu’ is …

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Nigeria: 11 songs banned by Kano State Censorship Board

18 June 2009

      A Kano chief magistrate has banned listening, sale and circulation of 11 Hausa songs, described as obscene, confrontational and immoral. Chief magistrate Muhtari Ahmed who presides over a mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board said the court is going to prosecute anyone found circulating …

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Pakistan: High Court imposes ban on ‘immoral songs’

28 April 2009

 On 27 April 2009 the Lahore High Court imposed a ban on songs by the two Lahore singers Naseebo Lal and Nooro Lal, deeming them ‘indecent, immoral’ and ‘against the values of a Muslim society’, reported The News International. According to the newspaper, justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry also issued notices to the …

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Kuweit: Concert closed for ‘defying the conservative traditions’

23 October 2008

The Kuwaiti department for monitoring public entertainment abrubtly ended a concert by the Egyptian singer Tamer Hosni because of a kiss, reported The Associated Press A woman from the audience jumped onto the stage, hugged the Egyptian singer Tamer Hosni and gave him a kiss. For this, authorities abruptly had …

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United Arab Emirates: American hit song banned

20 August 2008

An American hit song receiving airplay in the United Arab Emirates provokes controversy and has been banned from radio stations in Dubai for containing lyrics that “depict sexuality, lesbianism and promiscuity”, reported the daily newspaper Gulf News In 2007, American singer Katy Perry’s debut single, ‘UR So Gay’, generated some …

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Turkey: Banned rapper did not back down

18 June 2008

In 2000, when Turkish rapper Sultana launched her debut album with the song ‘Kuşu Kalkmaz’ its music video was immediately banned from tv. She then moved to the US, and disappeared from the lime light. After an eight-year hiatus Sultana is now re-entering the music stage. Television channels were instructed …

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Malaysia: Two singers deemed “unacceptable to Islam”

17 June 2008

”The youth wing of Malaysia’s opposition Islamic party will stage a peaceful protest if the two singers Mas Idayu and Ella are not banned from a 6 July concert, reported The Associated Press on 17 June 2008. Rock singer Norzila Aminuddin, better known as Ella – Malaysia’s ‘Queen of Rock’ …

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Bahrain: Parliament’s attempt to ban singer failed

5 May 2008

 Bahrain’s Islamist parliament members wanted to ban the Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe from performing in the country because of her sexy looks. They were not successful. Instead, their attempt gave the singer great publicity world-wide Singer and pop diva Haifa Wehbe (also spelled: Hayfa Wahbi) has so far emerged the …

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World-wide: Calls for censorship of ‘indecent’ songs

30 April 2008

Indecency is prohibited by law in many societies around the world, but where to draw the line and when to actually ban a song because it is considered indecent, profane, immoral or offending against the recognised standards of propriety… this is an on-going debate which presently is discussed many societies, …

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Germany/Denmark: Controversy around erotic drawing on vinyl cover

18 March 2008

The Danish psychedelic garage rock band Baby Woodrose recently experienced trouble in connection with the re-issuing of Blows Your Mind, their debut album originally released in 2001. The LP cover consists of artwork by Malleus – a drawing picturing a naked woman lying in water with a close view of …

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Afghanistan: Ghazal Ahmadi

25 February 2008

  Ghazal Ahmadi is a film actress in Afghanistan, and is also known for performing in music videos. Click on the photo two times to start the video.   In this interview Ghazal Ahmadi speaks about her experience as a music student who stopped learning how to play the guitar …

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Malaysia: Singer banned for showing bare chest

29 January 2008

Singer Faizal Tahir is banned by Malaysian authorities from appearing in any entertainment programmes on tv for three months. Reason: he took off his shirt during a live concert on tv On 13 January 2008, pop singer Faizal Tahir courted controversy by removing his shirts to his bare chest and …

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Afghanistan: Broadcast of Colombian singer censored

20 November 2007

Senior Muslim clerics and members of Afghanístan’s Ministry of Culture warned the country’s largest private television station Tolo TV of “serious consequences” and possible legal action following the broadcast of a concert by Shakira, even though Tolo TV had covered her chest with computer pixellation.A performance by the Colombian pop …

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Turkey: Punk band faces jail over ‘offensive’ song

10 April 2007

The five members of the punk band Deli from Bursa face up to 18 months in jail for having insulted the country’s unpopular university entrance exam in the song ‘ÖSYM’ Deli’s song ‘ÖSYM’ features a chorus of the words “ÖSYM, kiss my arse”. ÖSYM is Turkey’s central examination board that …

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India: American singer censored on tv

24 August 2006

Paris Hilton’s music video ‘Stars Are Blind’ has been banned because of “sexual connotations”. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has issued an “A” (Adult) certification for the music video which is part of Hilton’s debut album, ‘Paris’. It was released in Mumbai on 22 August 2006. This means …

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Algeria/France: Rai outlaw dies

18 May 2006

The Algerian legendary raï music star, Cheikha Rimitti, passed away on May 15 in Paris, 83 years old Cheikha Rimitti has a 60-year track record in Algeria as an outlaw for singing songs openly encouraging women to have and enjoy sex, with lyrics so plain-talk frank they’d still send the …

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India: Government bans “raunchy” music videos

11 May 2006

In April 2006 the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India banned “raunchy music videos”. However, in May 2006 The Times of India reports that the ban has not been implemented Popular Indian tv channels such as Channel V, B4U, Balle Balle, MTV, iTV and MH1 were …

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Tunisia/Egypt: Najla too sexy for Egyptian tv

23 February 2006

The Egyptian music channel Mazzika will not air Tunisian singer and dancer Najla’s new music video because it is considered pornographic Najla is trying eagerly to return to the scenes, yet decisions to ban her music surround her. This is the third time the singer’s music video has been banned, reports Al …

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Egypt: Ruby’s music videos banned on national tv

7 October 2005

  Ruby’s music videos are banned by Egyptian tv for being too sexy, and she has been banned from holding concerts in Kuwait. According to studies by the London-based daily Al-Hayat, the Egyptian singer Ruby is considered to be more popular than any political or intellectual figure in Egypt. A …

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Kuwait: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram banned

29 September 2005

Officials at Ministry of Information in Kuwait say that its Censorship Department has refused a request for a concert during the Muslim holiday Eid Al Fitr for Lebanese Nancy Ajram and Kuwaiti singer Nabil Shu’ail. A committee member stated that Nancy Ajram – known as “The Maria Carey of the Middle …

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Ghana: Hiplife under attack

12 April 2005

 The National Communication Authority of Ghana is being asked to ban “profane music” such as Hiplife on the radios   Hiplife, the local Ghanaian version of Hip Hop, is under constant attack from “moral groups” in the country. Several comments in national newspapers in recent month compare Hiplife lyrics to …

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Egypt: state censorship committee bans music videos

1 April 2005

Egyptian authorities have initiated a crack down on music videos which feature females barely dressed. As popular female stars reveal more and more flesh, controversy grows in Egypt’s mainly Muslim society The Egyptian Censorship Committee has banned 20 music videos “which featured sexual connotations and females barely dressed”, stressing that even the words …

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Egypt: Tunisian singer Najla refused entry

1 April 2005

  Najla worked as a belly dancer and singer in Egypt. She had taken a short vacation from Egypt and visited her homeland Tunisia, but was shocked upon her return that Cairo Airport Security would not let her enter the country The news of Najla’s banning from Egypt was a …

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United Arab Emirates: Satellite music channel bans “demeaning songs”

7 October 2004

The Arab satellite music channel Nogoom has decided to ban the airing of songs that are classified as ”inappropriate for the average viewers” and which contain seductive scenes and females wearing revealing outfits     The censorship committee officials at the network revealed that “broadcasting such demeaning songs goes against …

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Albums with ‘objectionable material’ removed from Kansas libraries

10 August 2004

The Kansas attorney general has withheld more than 1,600 compact discs from distribution to state libraries because officials determined the albums promote violence or illegal activity, records show. The albums removed by Attorney General Phill Kline’s office were part of 51,000 discs given to Kansas as part of a nationwide …

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USA: New fines proposed in indecency bills

14 March 2004

The bills would give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to fine recording artists, air talent and other individuals up to $500,000 for knowingly uttering indecent language on radio and TV. Full story at;

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Mariah upsets Malaysian Muslims

16 January 2004

Malaysia’s Muslim opposition party has called for Mariah Carey to be barred from performing in the country. From BBC;  

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USA: Feminist critique censored for indecency

30 June 2001

The Federal Communications Commission censored Sarah Jones’ song ‘Your revolution’ for indecency. Ironically, Jones’s song is in fact feminist critique and a statement against indecency and more particularly the sexual exploitation of women in pop music.   The spoken-word song ‘Your revolution’ was aired on the KBOO-FM radio station in …

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