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Turkey: How Erdoğan turned the tables on the EU to stifle free speech

3 May 2016

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demands that comedian Jan Böhmermann be prosecuted under Germany’s own laws criminalising insult to foreign heads of state because he has read out an offensive poem. The existence of this law has clearly taken Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German judiciary by surprise, but Merkel …

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Oman: Writer and filmmaker arrested and detained

2 May 2016

Author, poet and film-maker Abdullah Habib has been arrested in Oman. It is being assumed that he was arrested due to one of his post on Facebook, but no one really knows for sure. On the evening of 15 April 2016, the Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) summoned Habib to …

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Germany: Turkey attempts to stop EU funding orchestra performance

2 May 2016

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 …

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Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist wins appeal, soon free

28 April 2016

Iranian artist and cartoonist Aten Farghadani will be released from prison on 11 May 2016, according to her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi, after an appeals court reduced her original 12-year-and-nine-month sentence down to 18 months, reported IranWire on 25 April 2016. “Miss Farghadani has been acquitted of the charges of ‘gathering …

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Iran: Banned music legend may sing again

21 April 2016

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, …

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UAE: New dance craze leads to arrest

21 April 2016

A viral hit across the Middle East, reaching over 21 million views on YouTube since December 2015, of Saudi song and dance craze ‘Barbs’ has led many to post themselves on various social media outlets, including two Emirati soldiers who were arrested for performing the dance in uniform, reported The …

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Turkey: Baby donkeys, insults and presidents

20 April 2016

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 …

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Jordan: Concert by Israeli musician in Wadi Rum cancelled

20 April 2016

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 …

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