Music Freedom Day 2018: Listen to voices of the silenced

27 February 2018


Women musicians silenced and controlled

In Egypt, female singer Shyma was sentenced to two years in prison in December 2017 simply for releasing a music video authorities deemed “immoral”. After her case, two other female singers in Egypt — Laila Amer and Eghraa — were also brought up on charges over their “immoral” music videos. In Iran, female musicians are banned from performing in front of male audiences since 1978, and in several countries women performers are socially, culturally and economically marginalized and even considered prostitutes.

LGBT performers harassed for their sexual orientation

In Russia, Chechen pop singer Zelim Bakaev was abducted in Grozny in August 2017 over suspicion of his sexual orientation and has been missing ever since. In Cairo, seven audience members were arrested for waving a rainbow flag at Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila’s concert last September; the band, whose lead singer is openly gay, has been banned from performing in Egypt.

Minority groups targeted worldwide

In Ethiopia, seven ethnic Oromo musicians were charged with terrorism for producing “inciting” audio-visual materials in 2017, and in Zimbabwe musicians were attacked and pulled off stage at a concert for singing in their native Ndebele language.

On 3 March, Music Freedom Day 2018 places the spotlight on women, LGBT and minority musicians to celebrate artistic freedom of expression and highlight the proliferating trend of silencing artists.

Music Freedom Day events are organised by local artists, event organisers, broadcasters, journalists and activists. This year, they will highlight these vulnerable groups of artists with a variety of events, including concerts, performances, panel discussions and workshops. Events will be held in Germany, Guinea, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone and more.

Music Freedom Day, initiated by Freemuse in 2007, is a global celebration of the human right to musical expression, with artists and organizations worldwide uniting to support musicians that have been censored, persecuted, prosecuted and imprisoned; many whose only crime was insisting on their right to express themselves through their music.

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To learn more and see how to get involved visit the Music Freedom Day page

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