Celebrate Music Freedom By Supporting These Censored Musicians

What would the world be like without music?

For the past decade, Freemuse, a leading free expression organization based in Denmark, has been asking that provocative question. Music Freedom Day (March 3) aims to raise awareness about censorship and to celebrate the courageous musicians practicing their art in the face of adversity.

In 2016, there were 1,028 attacks on artists across 78 countries. Around the globe, musicians are regularly harassed, threatened, jailed, and killed. The digital age increases these threats exponentially–a hip-hop video uploaded to YouTube can now land you in jail. Freemuse is one of the only organizations that is globally tracking such violations of artistic freedom.

This year Sonos has partnered with Freemuse to support Music Freedom Day celebrations in 10 different countries worldwide. You can follow the events on Facebook.

Ferhat Tunç is a Turkish musician who is currently facing charges in three separate cases for posts shared on social media.
Photo Credit: Karim Merie for Index on Censorship

Ferhat Tunç is a Turkish musician who is currently facing charges in three separate cases for posts shared on social media. Turkey has imprisoned, threatened, or persecuted hundreds of artists since the crackdown following an attempted coup d’état in 2016. Ferhat is an accomplished folk musician who received an award from Index on Censorship (another Sonos grantee). He has been the target of several government investigations because of his music and opinions over the course of his 30-year career, according to Freemuse. You can take action in support of Ferhat here.

Zelim Bakaev is a DJ and pop artist based in Moscow. Openly gay, he was arrested on a visit for his sister’s wedding during a crackdown on LGBTI people during a visit to Chechnya. He was last spotted in the hands of government officials in August 2017 and has not been seen or heard from since, although recent reports suggest he may have been tortured and murdered. You can learn more about Zelim’s case and take action here.

Shyma is an Egyptian musician who is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for a music video uploaded onto YouTube. The sexually suggestive video featured the artist eating a banana, and the severe punishment is representative of a broader sweep by Egyptian authorities on music – and specifically women in music. Sherine Abdel Wahhab is standing trial for making a joke about the health risks of people drinking from the River Nile after a fan requested that she perform her song Have You Never Drank the Nile’s Water? onstage.

We’re proud to stand with Freemuse on raising awareness about these cases. You can make a difference by donating to Freemuse. Freemuse is also inviting supporters to hold up a piece of paper and fill out the phrase “Music makes me ____” in your own words. Use the hashtag #musicfreedomday2018.

Check out Freemuse’s Spotify playlist highlighting musicians under threat.

Sonos’s support for Freemuse comes from our Listen Better program, which strategically supports changemakers on the frontlines of music and sonic culture — with our money, our products, our spaces, and our time.

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