American singer Lady Gaga has once again joined the ranks of musicians and artists banned in China. Previously she was banned for being raunchy, but this time it was for meeting the Dalai Lama.
So Lady Gaga is no longer allowed on television,
radio or available for online downloads in China (at least on officially sanctioned media), says China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. The ban came after she had met with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to
discuss the power of kindness and how to make the world a more compassionate place.
The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, and on freedom of expression, David Kaye, have called on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker
Hossein Rajabian, who were imprisoned and heavily fined earlier this month. Ms. Bennoune said.
These three artists were sentenced for exercising their right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity, which in
turn results in unjustifiable restrictions on the right of all persons in Iran to have access to and enjoy the artsArtistic expression is simply not a crime.
The human rights experts contacted the Iranian authorities
on these cases earlier this year, including on the use of torture against Mr. Rajabian, musician and founder of Barg Music, an alternative music distributor in Iran.
Barg Music was the main medium broadcasting alternative music in
the country and had introduced more than 100 music albums and thousands of single records by Iranian alternative musicians, as well as female singers, to Iranian audiences, before being shut down by Revolutionary Guards in 2013.
In May 2015, and, according to the Government's answer to the UN experts, the three artists were sentenced to six years in prison and a fine of 50 million Rials each (some 1,658 USD) for
insulting Islamic sanctities , propaganda against the State and conducing illegal activities in the audiovisual affaires including through producing prohibited audiovisual material and performing an illegal and underground music site
. On appeal, the prison sentence was reduced to three years. Mr. Kaye said:
We take note that the sentence of the artists was reduced by the appeal court However, this verdict is still unacceptable: detaining someone
on the grounds of 'insulting the sacred' and 'propaganda against the state' is incompatible with international human rights standards.
Ms. Bennoune added:.
I am particularly
dismayed that Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi and Hossein Rajabian were allegedly forced to make self-incriminating televised 'confessions' to the charges of having produced prohibited audiovisual materials, to express regret for their work and to apologize
for broadcasting the voice of female singers, This amounts to an extraordinary attack against these artists, and one which has serious repercussions for others in Iran.
The arrest, conviction and sentencing of artists is entirely
unacceptable and in complete violation of international human rights law binding on Iran. The three artists should be released immediately and all charges dropped.
The expert's call has also been endorsed by the UN
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Juan E. Mendez.
The regional court in Bonn has decided that the German censors who effectively banned Rammstein''s CD, Liebe ist für alle da , acted illegally and must pay the band 15,000 euros in damages.
This assessment from the Bonn Regional Court upheld
the decision of the Cologne Administrative Court. The ban was triggered by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons in Bonn.
The rock band had sued the Federal Republic of Germany for just under 70,000 euros. In 2009, the Federal
Department had put the CD on the index for youth-endangering media, because one of the songs titled I hurt you you was classified as brutalizing and immoral.
The 'classification' banned all promotion and advertising for the CD and imposed
suffocating restrictions at the point of sale. The ban continued for 6 months until the Cologne Administrative Court lifted the ban.
The Bonn judge said the censors had weighed insufficiently between artistic freedom and youth protection. However
the court downsized the amount of damages from that requested.
The parties now have one month to consider this proposal.
Snura Mushi's latest popular hit Chura has not only led Tanzanian authorities to ban the video and its distribution, but they have also banned the artist from performing until the video is edited,.
The information, culture, arts and sports
ministry's head of information and censorship Zawadi Msalla said the government was shocked at the video , and that the ban was enacted due to the immoral acts featured in the video.
Msalla said that Mushi has been instructed
not to distribute or release her controversial and immoral video in other social media, such as Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and several others , adding that people who distribute the video will be charged according to the 2014 Cyber Crime Act.
Further, the artist has also been banned from performing publicly until, Msalla notes, the video is changed and then registered at the National Arts Council.
Mushi's Chura video consists solely of scenes of several women in dresses twerking
on a beach and has 640,000 views on YouTube since its release on 25 April 2016.
Artists are facing severe difficulties under Erdogan's rule in Turkey. On 15 February 2016, The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a fatwa -- a religious ban -- on sexual music.
The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs
is a governmental institution responsible for managing the religious affairs in Turkey. It is infamous for its scandalous fatwas.
On 15 February 2016, a new fatwa hit the news. The Directorate distributed a 2016 calendar, in which they included a
Q&A for each day. On the page for the day 24 August, the question was What is the place of music in religion? Which types of music are halal (acceptable for Islam)? The answer started with some general information:
According to Quran, there is no proof which shows that making or listening to music is a sin. In this sense, the types of music which do not contradict with the fundamental beliefs of our religion and with the general moral values are
Then came the but :
BUT... making or listening to music which includes expressions or depictions that arouse sexual desires or which show haram things as
beautiful is a sin.
The fatwas by the Directorate, whose members are all appointed by the government, are not legally binding or cannot be used as legal opinions or precedents, but they have practical effect. They form public opinion.
They direct the central and local governments about what type of art and which artists to support. They encourage public prosecutors to start cases against Islamically unacceptable art works and artists. They present legitimacy for the
government's change of legislature. They are influential.
An imam, previously with the rockband Kramp , who now runs the band Firock , is opposing the Directorate's fatwa from a religious perspective.
The censorship bureau of Lebanon's General Security Directorate has banned Bachar Mar-Khalife's song Kyrie Eleison because it supposedly contains offenses to God as the singer talked to God in the song saying, 'have mercy on us and
leave us alone' .
The authorities further stated that if Bashar Mar-Khalife wants to promote his album in the country then he must delete the song from the album. Authorities also cllaimed in their statement that the song included words that could
be interpreted as sexual innuendo.
A Lebanese rock band, Mashrou' Leila, says it has been banned in Jordan because its music supports religious and sexual freedom. Mashrou' Leila was to play in the Roman amphitheatre in Amman on Friday, but the concert was cancelled on
Mashrou' Leila's lead singer is openly gay and the band tackles taboos that few other Arab musicians have explored.
In a post on its Facebook page, Mashrou' Leila announced that it would not be able to play at Amman's amphitheatre this
week as scheduled, citing the organisers as saying:
the performance would have been at odds with what the ministry of tourism viewed as the 'authenticity' of the site.
Informally, the story is
much more problematic. We have been unofficially informed that the reason behind this sudden change of heart, few days before the concert day, is the intervention of some authorities.
Our understanding is that said authorities
have pressured certain political figures and triggered a chain of events that ultimately ended with our authorisation being withdrawn.
We also have been unofficially informed that we will never be allowed to play again anywhere in
Jordan due to our political and religious beliefs and endorsement of gender equality and sexual freedom.
Amman governor Khalid Abu Zeid told the Associated Press that the group had been banned because its songs contradicted religious beliefs, and not because its music went against the amphitheatre's historic ambience.
Update: Unbanned but too late in the day to organise the show
The Lebanese band
Mashrou' Leila (Leila's Project) was reportedly banned last week, April 26, from performing at the Roman Theater in the Jordan's capital, Amman. However, after a massive online backlash from fans of the band in Jordan and in the Middle East,
Jordan authorities decided to reverse the order and permit the band to perform two days later.
Unfortunately, the band was still unable to perform for their fans in Jordan as it is difficult to bring the concert with such a huge production back to
Jordan, as indicated in an official statement in the band's Facebook page.
We believe this wouldn't have been possible without the strong reactions from people who believe in freedom of expression and artistic and
cultural freedoms, and who stepped up to defend the pluralism and diversity of Jordanian society. This gives us hope and confidence for Jordan to host diverse cultural and artistic events in the future.
An orchestra in Germany has accused Turkey of forcing it to change the name of a concert it is scheduled to give on April 30, as well as remove a piece from its program that calls the massacre of Armenians a genocide. The name of the event is Aghet
, a term commonly used by Armenians to describe the events of 1915 as genocide, whose literal translation in English is catastrophe.
The Dresden Symphony orchestra said that Turkey's delegation to the EU had reportedly asked the
European Commission (EC), which is financially supporting the event, to defund the concert and remove its title from the EC's official website. While the Commission declined to withdraw the financial support, it did remove the announcement of the
concert. A spokesperson for the Commission came up with a few weasel words to justify the censorship:
Due to concerns raised regarding the wording used in the project description, the Commission temporarily withdrew
The orchestra's director, Markus Rindt, slammed Turkey's bold interference as an an infringement on freedom of expression.
Pop star Selena Gomez has quietly canceled her August tour dates in Guangzhou and Shanghai, it is reported that she was forced to do so by the Chinese government.
The ban its not related to the content of the music, but is due to pictures posted
on the internet showing Gomez with the Dalai Llama.
The picture appears to be from two years, when both Gomez and the Tibetan spiritual leader were in Vancouver to host We Day, a youth empowerment project that takes place in cities around the US
and Canada. According to a Daily Mail report , the singer captioned the pic: words of wisdom. #speechless.
The Norwegian punk band Slutface have revealed they've changed their name to use the Norwegian specific letter 'ø' instead of the 'u'. The original name was causing censorship problems on social media.
If I remember my Norwegian correctly, the replacement letter has exactly the same sound as the original.
Sl ø tface said in an official statement that the change had not changed their
"political and feminist message" in the slightest.:
We just hope to reach more people with our lyrics and message by changing one silly letter of our name and thereby avoiding censorship.
Also we like the connection to our Nordic roots and hope we can trick Mark Zuckerberg into promoting SLØTFACE music. Løv Sløts.
The heavy metal band Rammstein is well known for challenging magery and lyrics, but now they are challenging German censors who effectively banned general sales of the album L iebe ist für alle da.
Rammstein has filed a lawsuit against
Germany for having temporarily indexed the album. The rock band is seeking 66,000 euros in damages.
In November 2009, the album was indexed by the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young
Persons) in Germany for the lyrics to the single "Ich tu dir weh," as well as a booklet accompanying the album. The censors claimed that the album was brutalizing and immoral.
Once a work is indexed by the organization, it
may not be advertised and can only be sold under strict conditions. Rammstein claims it had to destroy or store nearly 85,000 copies of the album following this classification. Now the band wants to recover the damages.
However the album did not
remain on the index: The Administrative Court in Cologne removed the album from the list of morally harmful works after half a year, explaining that the classification was unlawful, as it neglected considerations of artistic freedom in its decision.
The Orwellian sounding Tunisian Musicians Syndicate has banned singer Hana al Zughlami aka Tunisian Naglaa from working in the country under claims that she promoted vice and immorality in her latest video and single La Ykhebbesh Wala
Ydebbish , reported news site Al Bawaba.
The syndicate has also stated that legal action would be taken against anyone who collaborates with the artist.
The actions taken by the Tunisian syndicate mirror those of Egypt's controversial
Musicians Syndicate which in January 2016 banned six singers from performing due to supposedly sexually suggestive and racy behaviour on stage.