President of Norwegian Parliament: “Curb artistic freedom and you curb democracy”

11 March 2015


Music Freedom Day 2015 in Harstad, Norway, was opened by the president of the Norwegian Parliament, Olemic Thommessen. In his speech he talked about music and freedom of expression.


“There are few with the power to convey something about the society we live in with such depth, complexity and honesty as artists and musicians. The role of art is to take us to the edge, expand the universe and open our minds. No one has the ability to ease society’s pain like artists and musicians. Which is why their voices are so essential.

Music and freedom of expression are both vital elements in any successful democracy. They are also priceless human treasures. John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela used the same three-word phrase: “Freedom is indivisible”. This says it all. You cannot divide freedom into parts. Do that, and it ceases to be freedom. You can dislike provocative rap lyrics; you can dislike a music genre related to a particular tradition or people. But this has nothing to do with their right to perform. Curb artistic freedom and you curb democracy altogether.”
Olemic Thommessen

» Read the full speech here:

Photo above: President of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) Olemic Thommessen in conversation with musicians Sina and Khaled Harare. Sina is a black metal musician from Iran currently residing in Norway, and Harare is a rapper from Palestine who are in Norway on a Safe City programme. Photo: Courtesy of Stortinget



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