Music in Exile: recent cases of censorship

It’s hard for many of us to imagine, but all around the world, people are being intimidated out of playing music. Here is a list of some musicians who have been prevented from expressing themselves freely so far in 2016.

Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer, Turkey

The Turkish musician was denied permission to perform in Portugal by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, according to several news media, on 1 March 2016. His performance at the Serralves Museum in Porto had been approved by Turkey’s Cultural Ministry before the Diyanet, Turkey’s religious enforcement authority, overruled their decision.

Bangy (Cedric Bangirini), Burundi

Cedric Bangirinama, known as Bangy, was arrested on 27 January 2016 by Burundi’s national intelligence service for statements he made on his Facebook account that were insulting to the head of state. The musician was held for three weeks and eventually released on 16 February 2016.

Elawela Balady, Egypt

A concert scheduled for 24 January 2016, celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution, was to forced to cancel by the country’s Ministry of State of Antiquities. The event was to feature Elawela Balady and had received approval from the Ministry of Culture to hold the show in Cairo’s Prince Taz Palace. The band that was set to play have contributed to political and social awareness through their music.

Art Attack, Kenya

Art Attack, a Kenyan band who campaign for LGBT rights in the country and other African nations, faced censorship after the Kenyan Film and Classification Board banned their video in February for its remix of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s song Same Love. The decision was made because the video “does not adhere to the morals of the country”, Kenyan newspaper The Star reported. The video includes powerful images of LGBT protests and homophobic news headlines from the country.

Salar Aghili, Iran

Salar Aghili was banned from performing at Iran’s Fajr International Music Festival and from appearing on Iranian television because of his appearance on a Persian-language satellite channel based in London. Ali Jannati, minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, said earlier this month that “artists shouldn’t give any interviews to foreign satellite channels”.

Index on Censorship has teamed up with the producers of an award-winning documentary about Mali’s musicians, They Will Have To Kill Us First, to create the Music in Exile Fund to support musicians facing censorship globally. You can donate here, or give £10 by texting “BAND61 £10” to 70070.