Category Archives: Middle East

Cairo: Detention for “Street Children” theatre group

A North Cairo court decided oatfa_shware_sizedn 2 July 2016 to renew the detention of satirist troupe “Street Children” for yet another 15 days. This latest renewal is the group’s fifth such consecutive ruling totalling 75 days in detention as they await ever-delayed court proceedings pending ongoing investigations. Five of the group’s six members were detained in May, with one later released on bail. The sixth member is being investigated but has not been arrested. The men are accused of using social media to “insult” state institutions, inciting demonstrations, disturbing public order, spreading false news and incitement to topple the regime. The group posts online satirical music videos shot on the streets that lampoon Egyptian politics. One week before their arrest, the group released a video mocking President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and calling on him to leave office.
Local artists and activists created an online petition  on Avaaz calling for the members’ release and to drop all charges against them.

update: On 1st August the Giza Criminal Court rejected satirist troupe Street Children’s second appeal against their lengthy pre-trial detention and further extended their detention by yet another 15 days, meaning that the four members of the group have been in detention for 105 days awaiting an investigation or even a court date. (Freemuse)

update 2: On 7th September a Cairo court ordered the release of four members of the troupe after it granted their appeal over a tenth renewal of their pre-trial detention that would have extended their already four-month-long imprisonment by 15 more days. All six members remain under investigation. (Freemuse)

Sources: ArtsfreedomHuman Rights Watchahramonline

Pakistan: The war on living arts in Swat

A new report on thswatreport-cover200e effects of war and repression of musicians, performers and the public of the Swat Valley, Pakistan, has been published by Freemuse and Peshawar-based Pakhtunkhwa Cultural Foundation (PCF). Who is protecting and supporting the living arts after a conflict? After the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was overthrown, a renewed wave of terrorism began on the Pakistani side of the border. The report shows the huge impact conflicts have on the living heritage, the music, dance, cinema and other artistic expressions and the general publics right to acces arts and culture. The artistic life and the cultural industry is still suffering immensely after the Taliban were ousted from the Swat Valley more than seven years ago.
Download (PDF):  “Study on effects of war and repression of musicians, performers and the public of Swat, Pakistan”

Source: Freemuse

Censorship in Uzbekistan

“The Naked Truth About Censorship In Uzbekistan” is an informative article about the present situation of censorship in the 30 Million inhabitants Central Asian state.  Uzbekistan is often cited as one of the world’s worst religious freedom offenders. Since last year a growing Islamic observance interfears in fashion rules, cinema, internet use and other parts of arts and public live.

Source:  Global Voices, Echo of Truth

Administrative detention extended for Mohammed Abu Sakha

The Palestabuinian Circus School performer and trainer Mohammed Abu Sakha had been arrested on 14th of December last year. A re-appeal was ordered for end of March. Today, his administrative detention order was extended with another 6 months. The Palestinian Circus School informed that no reasons have been given to his family and his lawyer.

A letter to support Abu Sakha can be found here

Freedom Theatre deeply concerned about isolation of Palestinian cultural associations

On May 29, Mustafa Sheta, formerly secretary of the board of The Freedom Theatre Jenin and currently a senior staff member of the theatre, was denied exit by Israeli border authorities when he was travelling to Jordan to attend a scheduled visa application meeting at the US Embassy. Sheta has been invited to travel to the US in the autumn to represent The Freedom Theatre. Accused of political activism he was imprisioned by the Israelian authorities last year from March to November.
On May 25, Osama Al Azzeh, a student of The Freedom Theatre’s three-year educational programme in acting, was denied entry to Jordan. Al Azzeh was scheduled to perform in the play ‘Return to Palestine’ in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. The performances are part of a joint project between Ashtar Theatre and The Freedom Theatre.
The visa application process for northern countries is becoming increasingly complicated and expensive. On the other hand Israel and neighbouring countries are closing the borders for cultural workers to travel abroad. In the past two years, several members of The Freedom Theatre have been unable to travel due to either denied visas or denied entry/exit by border officials.

Source:  The Freedom Theatre

Arab Group for Cultural Policy launches Call to Protect Cultural Heritage and Cultural Freedom

The group appealed to the United Nations and other key international organizations and institutions active in the Arab region during their meeting in Beirut in December 2015. The call responds to the destruction resulting in the vandalizing of important human archaeological sites as well as to attacks on freedom of creative and artistic expression in most Arab countries. The demands including also to secure educational opportunities and access to culture in countries of diaspora. The call had a great reaction from people from around the Arab Region and beyond, is available in Arab, English and French and can still be signed online. ACAR supports this call and has signed.

Call to Protect Cultural Heritage and Cultural Freedoms and Rights in the Arab Region