Qatar: Playing with the censors

28 February 2017

  The state of Qatar is young and old at the same time, immersed in both modernity and tradition. Governed by strict Islamic principles under the supreme power of the emir, Qatar is a place where freedom of speech is very limited, and where artistic expression risks being banned or …

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Vietnam: Popular music and censorship

27 September 2016

The Vietnamese state operates a thorough system of music censorship, and the few songwriters who dare to directly challenge the authority of the Vietnamese Communist Party or its policies face serious consequences. Focusing on popular musicians, this article charts the history of music censorship in Vietnam from the mid twentieth century through …

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Greece: Artistic freedom at stake

14 September 2016

Censorship incidents and controversies over artworks have multiplied over the last few years in Greece, particularly since the crisis hit the country in 2008. At the same time, legal controversies over blasphemous and obscene publications continue while hate crimes are on the rise, as exemplified by the murder of young …

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Turkey: The coup still continues for the art scene

14 September 2016

The state of emergency following the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 resulted in increased pressure against artists. The already-ongoing attack against freedom of art has accelerated after the coup attempt. Artists are trying to keep their heads up under the pressure, while the government is planting the …

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India: Censors under fire

30 May 2016

Nearly halfway into the term of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the world’s largest democracy is witnessing an increasingly polarised debate over freedom of expression; and what many critics and civil society members say is an atmosphere of intolerance in the country. By Ankush Arora    INSIGHT  When Indian …

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Mali: Three years after the music ban

14 December 2015

When the religious music ban in the northern part of Mali was lifted in 2013, Andy Morgan wrote the book ‘Music, Conflict and Culture in Mali’. Here is his account of what has happened in the country since then. By Andy Morgan    INSIGHT  One of the accusations often levelled at …

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France post-November 13: Musicians shocked but defiant

26 November 2015

The massacre at the Bataclan concert hall spreads fear and generates financial losses but also determination to carry on. Daniel Brown reports from Paris two weeks after the attacks “Vive la musique, vive la liberté, vive la France, and vive EODM.” Eagles of Death Metal By what eerie twist of fate did the …

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Israel: The political legacy of muzzling artists

3 November 2015

In June 2015, Israeli artists made a collective roar against their government over its arts funding policy which bans dissident artists. Like everywhere else in the world, the government of Israel can choose which artists to support with public funding. It can ban, expel and censor artists, according to its …

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The alternative voices: Artists in the Arab world

9 September 2015

Sandwiched between two of the most deadly terrorist attacks Tunisia has known in decades, several dozen artists from the Arab world gathered in Tunis to debate the link between art and violence. Many face censorship or deadly threats to their art and lives as their countries have been sucked into …

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Sweden: Art under threat

12 May 2015

Several Swedish artists live under constant threat from nazis and extreme rightwing groups. For years, they have been subjected to threats, harassment and attacks directed at their art and themselves. The artists despair at the inability of the state to protect them. By Sanna Samuelsson    INSIGHT  Published in collaboration …

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Russia: Cultural freedom under threat

11 May 2015

In this article Lena Jonson, Head of the Russia Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm and author of the book ‘Art and protest in Putin’s Russia’, which was published in March 2015, describes that although censorship was forbidden by the Russian Constitution of 1993, since 2012 …

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The Syrian uprising – art in the diaspora

28 April 2015

If there is a place where using the word “revolution” in the context of Syria does not result in endless and highly heated conversations, that is in arts and culture. Unlike politics – a slippery slope terrain where the 2011 Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Asad can take unexpected shapes and …

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Syrian artists standing against tyranny

27 April 2015

The nationwide uprising that swept through Syria in March 2011 has created a rift between the country’s artists and intellectuals. Some of whom took the regime’s side, some preferred to remain neutral, while others chose to join the revolution since its early beginnings. However, their support of the uprising has …

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France: Artist finds coexisting hard in streets of Paris

14 April 2015

On the night of 30-31 January 2015, French street artist Combo Culture Kidnapper was assaulted by four unidentified youth as he put up a wall painting bringing together the three symbols of monotheism. ‘Coexist’ depicts the Muslim crescent, the Jewish Star of David and the Christian cross – replacing the ‘c’, ‘x’ …

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Deji Bryce Olukotun: The spear of the N-word

21 January 2015

Opinion-piece by Deji Bryce Olukotun    INSIGHT  In May 2012, a man walked into a South African art gallery and vandalised a painting, portraying President Jacob Zuma naked, that was entitled The Spear of the Nation. He was quietly apprehended by security and did not resist. A few minutes later, …

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Lebanon: Virtual museum winning censorship battles

3 November 2014

The Virtual Museum of Censorship in Lebanon doesn’t just display censorship of the past, it also supports artists who have been subject to censorship, raises awareness about Lebanon’s censorship practices and advocates for changing the law while holding authorities accountable. “Lebanon’s censorship practices and laws are outdated and the bureaucracy …

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Russia: The street artists that drive authorities mad

31 October 2014

Russian street artists are twisting and testing the lines between art, activism and hooliganism. While most artists would define their various protest actions and expressions as art, or street art, the Russian authorities only see illegal hooliganism. This report goes behind the arts scenes in the country which became internationally …

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China: Censorship of independent art has never been harsher

30 September 2014

China says it wants to promote ‘culture’ but its censorship of independent art has never been more systemic, reports Oiwan Lam from Beijing, where authorities clamped down on yet another independent film festival in August 2014. By Oiwan Lam Chinese authorities shut down the 11th Annual Beijing Independent Film Festival …

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Russia: Musicians speak of censorship, persecution and viciousness

30 April 2014

Violations of freedom of expression in Russia hit the frontpages of newspapers and websites all over the world in 2012 when two members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were imprisoned. Many other music groups and artists in Russia face censorship and persecution – but their cases are never …

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North Korea: Sun Mu – the faceless painter

30 August 2013

Sun Mu is not the artist’s actual name. It’s a nom de plume that uses a combination of two Korean words that translate to ‘The Absence of Borders’. It not only represents what he feels is the transcendence of art but also the literal military demarcation line that keeps the …

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Syria: Art, creative resistance and active citizenship

7 November 2012

The links between creative resistance and active citizenship, art and civic conscience have been a strong component of the Syrian uprising. Finally, citizens have turned into peer-creators and users, who have now the tools to express their creativity.     BY DONATELLA DELLA RATTA • OCTOBER 2012 • [A4 PDF] …

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Fear, threats and self-censorship among Syrian rappers

22 October 2012

Syrian rappers are split about how to engage in the fronts of an uprising that have turned to civil war. President Bashar al-Assad’s fear-based society is making everyone think twice.   Refugees of Rap, a group of rappers from the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Syria, has a new album …

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Symbols into soldiers: Art, censorship, and religion

19 October 2012

Notwithstanding almost two and a half centuries of separation of church and state, religious groups in the US have never given up the desire to impose their values and beliefs on society at large. Controversies around art with religious content persist with some regularity, generally spurred by private religious groups …

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Nepal: The rise and ‘ban’ of the collateral

19 October 2012

How a young Nepali painters’ works raised questions on artistic freedom in Kathmandu, the City of Temples. BY KANCHAN G. BURATHOKI • OCTOBER 2012 • [A4 PDF] On Tuesday afternoon, 11 September 2012, when the exhibition ‘The Rise of the Collateral’ had only nine days left to conclude, after having …

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The invisible red line – maneuvering Chinese art censorship

19 October 2012

Art can both reflect and shape reality. It is the fear of this power to amplify and produce meaning which inspires censorship. In their quest for freedom of expression, Chinese artists have had to face a variety of censorship strategies. Some are rooted in politics, while others hold to conservative …

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Tunisia’s ground zero for creative freedom

8 October 2012

The ‘Nadia Jelassi’ affair has become a stake, a symbol of the successful democratic transition of the Tunisian revolution, and could represent ground zero for individual freedoms in the country that in late 2010 sparked off a world geopolitical earthquake. BY KERIM BOUZOUITA • OCTOBER 2012 • [PDF] IT’S 2012 …

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