Suppression of artistic freedom on the grounds of alleged ‘insult of religion’ has been very common. The censorship of art justified by ‘protection of religious figures, deities, tenets and beliefs’ has often been instigated by religious authorities and groups of believers themselves.


In other contexts, it has been exercised under still-existing blasphemy laws which are widely criticised due to lack of universal consensus on what constitutes ‘defamation of religion.’ It is particularly alarming that in dozens of countries national legislation prescribes lengthy prison sentences for alleged ‘insult of religion’, while in eight countries the blasphemy is punished with death penalty.


Freemuse research demonstrates that even in secular societies artists who in different ways question religious practices or criticise churches often face criminal charges for ‘hurting or insulting religious sentiments and undermining religious values.’ Some music genres – i.e. metal music – have disproportionally been subject to censorship as well as legal investigations on accusations of apology of satanism.