Editor’s letter: All hail those who speak out\ On “Index” UK


Editor’s letter: All hail those who speak out

17 Sep 2020BY


The brave stand up when others are afraid to do so. Let’s remember how hard that is to do, says Rachael Jolley in the autumn 2020 issue of Index on Censorship magazine.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a dissenting voice. Throughout her career she has not been afraid to push back against the power of the crowd when very few were ready for her to do so.

The US Supreme Court justice may be a popular icon right now, but when she set her course to be a lawyer she was in a definite minority.

For many years she was the only woman on the court bench, and she was prepared to be a solitary voice when she felt it was vital to do so, and others strongly disagreed.

Continue reading “Editor’s letter: All hail those who speak out\ On “Index” UK”

French Visa and One year scholarship التأشيرة الفرنسية والمنحة الدراسية

شكر جزيل من القلب لجهود الأصدقاء والصديقات الذين لم يتوانوا عن الضغط لتغيير قرار رفض منح الفيزا من السفارة الفرنسية في مصر، ليتسنى لي إكمال المنحة الدراسية في جامعة “إكس مرسيليا” والممولة من “المعهد العالمي للتعليم” ضمن “برنامج حماية الفنانين” الأمريكي, الشكر موجه لكلا من: الدكتورة مارين بواغييه، لورانت بونفوا، منظمة “إندكس” البريطانية، أدم بارون، لورا باتاقليا، ماري هينز، لويس امبرت، سيلفيا بيفيلا, وشكر خاص لوزيرة الشباب الفرنسية السابقة الرائعة “جانيت بوغريب”.
Many thanks to all my friends and to their efforts they done to reverse the decision of the French Embassy in Egypt, about my visa application. Now I will be able to complete my scholarship at the University of AIX Marseille, sponsored by “IIE” as part of the “APF” program, Thanks to: Dr. Marin Poirier, Dr. Laurent Bonnefoy, “Index on Censorship” Org, Adam Baron, Laura Silvia Battaglia, Marie-Christine Heinze, Louis Imbert, Silvain Biville, and a special thanks to the amazing former French Minister of Youth “Jeanette Bougrab.”

Index on Censorship calls on French authorities to reverse decision on visa for artist\ On “Index On Censorship”

Index on Censorship calls on French authorities to reverse decision on visa for artist

29 Apr 2019

Theatre director Nadia Latif, 2016 Freedom of Expression Arts Fellow Murad Subay and pianist James Rhodes (Photo: Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship)
Theatre director Nadia Latif, 2016 Freedom of Expression Arts Fellow Murad Subay and pianist James Rhodes (Photo: Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship)

Murad Subay, a Yemeni street artist and the 2016 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Arts Fellow, was rejected for a visa to study at Aix-Marseille University as part of a one-year grant for threatened artists.

Subay, who creates murals protesting against Yemen’s civil war, was given a grant to study under the Institute of International Education’s Artistic Protection Fund, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which makes fellowship grants to artists from any field of practice, and places them at host institutions in safe countries where they can continue their work and plan for their futures.


The visa that would have allowed Subay to study was rejected by authorities on Friday, he told Index via email.

“This rejection highlights a spreading hostility to artistic freedom around the world. From Uganda to Indonesia to Cuba, proposed legislation threatens to control artists, while a growing number of supposedly democratic countries such as the UK frequently refuse visas to foreign authors, musicians and activists for events or training. This reinforces notion that constraining artistic freedom is acceptable,” Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship said.

“We ask French authorities to reverse this decision and allow Murad, an Index fellow, to study.”

Subay’s murals grew from the frustration he felt as his homeland descended into chaos and factionalism. Amid the destruction and anger, Subay picked up his brush. He went out into the streets with friends and began painting in broad daylight. After a few days he was joined by people from the community driven by their desire for peace amid Yemen’s civil war.

The Yemeni civil war has been raging since 2015.  An estimated 13,600 people have been killed, including more than 5,200 civilians. The strife has contributed to the death of an estimated 50,000 people from an ongoing famine. In 2018, the United Nations warned that 13 million Yemeni civilians face starvation in what it says could become “the worst famine in the world in 100 years.”

Read More..

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Student reading list: Art and protest/ BY GILLIAN TRUDEAU, On Index Magazine


Student reading list: Art and protest

03 Jan 2019
An anti-war mural created by Yemeni street artist Murad Subay, 2016 Freedom of Expression Arts Award winner.

An anti-war mural created by Yemeni street artist Murad Subay, 2016 Freedom of Expression Arts Award winner.

Art has been used as a form of protest during times of crisis throughout history. It is a popular and, at times, effective platform to express opinions about societal or governmental problems, particularly when other forms of protest are not available. Protest art includes performances, site-specific installations, graffiti and street art.

Here Index highlights key articles about art and protest from around the world, from the past five decades.


Soviet "unofficial" art, the Winter 1975 issue of Index on Censorship magazine

Soviet “unofficial” art

December 1975, vol. 4 issue: 4

Alexander Glezer writes about his participation in organising the unofficial art exhibit in Moscow. When the first exhibition opened, it was bulldozed by undercover police officers and agents from the KGB (Committee for State Security). In the second exhibition, the authorities were forced by the public to grant permission and ten to fifteen thousand people came to see the paintings and sculptures of 50 nonconformist artists’. Glezer, 41-years-old, was questioned by the KGB, arrested and sentenced 10 days for “hooliganism”. He was allowed to leave the Soviet Union in 1975 February.

Read the full article

Repression in Iran , the Winter 1974 issue of Index on Censorship magazine

Portugal: Art triumphant

December 1974, vol. 3 issue: 4

The Sao Mamed Gallery opened with 186 artworks by 87 artists who had never shown their work in public before due to the regime’s dictating of Portuguese life. The gallery was built to celebrate the result of the military coup abolishing censorship of expression.
Published in the New York Times.

Read the full article

Art of Resistance

September 2012, vol. 41 issue: 3

Malu Halasa, co-curator of the exhibition Culture in Defiance: Continuing Traditions of Satire, Art and the Struggle for Freedom in Syria, writes about how the violence in Syria affected country’s art of resistance production and then created ideas of spreading this work further West which was the reason for the exhibition’s creation.

Read the full article

Dark Arts: Three Uzbek artists speak out on state constraints

December 2014, vol. 43 issue: 4

Author Nargis Tashpulatova interviews writer three Uzbek artists – Sid Yanishev, photographer Umida Akhmedova and conceptual artist Vyacheslav Akhunov who continue to create artwork throughout governmental threats and censorship and the regression of art in Uzbek society.

Read the full article


Art or Vandalism

October 2011, vol. 40 issue: 3

Yasmine El Rashidi writes on the outbreak of graffiti in the streets in Cairo during the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution.

Read More>>



Continue reading “Student reading list: Art and protest/ BY GILLIAN TRUDEAU, On Index Magazine”

Murad Subay: Yemen’s war makes a month feel like a year\ By: KIERAN ETORIA-KING


Murad Subay: Yemen’s war makes a month feel like a year

The Index award winner talks about his fears of a possible escalation of the conflict in Yemen
03 Feb 2017

US president Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from travelling to the USA for has had devastating consequences for thousands of people. Among them is Index on Censorship Award winner Murad Subay. The Yemeni street artist is now unable to visit his wife, who is currently studying in the USA.

“It’s really frustrating to even start thinking that I won’t be able to see her for that long,” he told Index. “She was supposed to visit during summer break, however, it seems that she can’t do that now.”


With uncertainty surrounding how the Trump administration’s policy towards Yemen will play out, the couple are now facing the very real prospect of not seeing each other until she finishes her studies four years from now.

“It’s been a really difficult time for both of us because it’s the first time we’ve been away from each other for more than a month,” Subay said. “I can’t say that this doesn’t have its negative effects on my work, for it surely does.”

At home, the worries that have plagued Subay throughout the Obama administration remain, particularly Trump’s continuation – and possible escalation – of his predecessor’s drone strikes in Yemen, which by February 2016 had killed up to 729 Yemenis including 100 civilians. One rural counter-terrorism raid authorised by Trump has already left at least 10 women and children dead, according to Al-Jazeera.

2016 Freedom of Expression Fellow Murad Subay

Murad Subay is the 2016 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Arts Award-winner and fellow. His practice involves Yemenis in creating murals that protest the country’s civil war. Read more about Subay’s work.

“Trump has no right to make things even worse for Yemenis. Yemen is already suffering from US arms deals with Saudi Arabia that helped fuel this war. Barring Yemenis from entering the USA under his administration only adds to these troubles.”

The war has been hitting close to home for Subay in recent months. Two of his cousins were recruited by warring parties and killed on the battlefield. – Fuad Subay, aged 26, was a soldier killed in Albuka’a, and Yaser Subay, just 14, was recruited by Houthis and killed in Isilan.

On top of this, a close friend of his, the respected investigative journalist Mohammed Alabsi, was killed in an apparent assassination. According to the Yemen Times, Alabsi had gone out for dinner in Sana’a with a cousin on 20 December. A little while later both men were rushed to hospital, where Alabsi died.

“I was told that blood came out of his ears and eyes,” Subay said. “Mohammed was investigating the black markets trading in oil that were associated with high-ranking politicians. I do not know the exact details of this, but what I do know is that Yemen has lost one of its most important and noblest investigative journalists, and that I lost a dear friend.”

An investigation into Alabsi’s death is underway.

Subay addressed a recent wave of violence against civilians, including journalists and public figures, in a mural entitled Assassination’s Eye, painted on the Mathbah Bridge in Sana’a in late December. Part of the Ruins Campaign, the minimalist painting depicts a sniper’s crosshairs training in on a human target.

“It conveys the assassin’s point of view, where it first feels like it is only a part of training on how to hit a target, but then in the final square the bullet ends up in the head of a real person rather than a target board,” Subay explained. “These assassinations have spread vastly since 2012, where they were mostly carried out among the military ranks and politicians. Lately, however, these operations have been targeting civilians too. I was planning to address this issue some time ago after hearing about the assassinations of innocent civilians in different places of the country, and that was just two weeks before I was shocked by the death of my friend.”

Elsewhere, Subay has been asked to serve as a judge for the Italian arts award, Fax for Peace, which invites students and artists from around the world to send pictures, videos or animations on the themes of peace, tolerance, human rights and the fight against all forms of racism. He said of the role: “It is a great pleasure to be selected as a judge in this contest and it is a big responsibility, which I hope to be able to carry out effectively.”

However, with Yemen’s economic circumstances ever worsening, and many working people now into their fourth month without receiving salaries, he sees difficult times ahead.

“It’s very harsh to see people every day looking for anything to eat from garbage, waiting along with children in rows to get water from the public containers in the streets, or the ever increasing number of beggars in the streets. They are exhausted, as if it’s not enough that they had to go through all of the ugliness brought upon them by the war.”

Referring to the deaths of his cousins and his close friend, he added: “No one can live in this country and not be affected by the war. This all happened in the last three or four months. These events make a month in Yemen feel like a year.”

Continue reading “Murad Subay: Yemen’s war makes a month feel like a year\ By: KIERAN ETORIA-KING”

Artist Murad Subay worries about the future for Yemen’s children\ Article by: Ryan McChrystal



Artist Murad Subay worries about the future for Yemen’s children

By Ryan McChrystal / 22 September 2016


Credit: Ruins campaign. Bani Waleed, September 2016

On 3 September 2016, a group of Houthi rebels convened a meeting at al-Najah School in the al-Haima district of Bani Waleed, a local witness told Murad Subay, street artist and winner of the 2016 Index on Censorship award for arts, that the men entered the school without permission.

“We are not with any of the warring parties – we are caught in the middle,” the witness said.

Soon after, the school was destroyed in an airstrike carried out by the Saudi Arabian-led military coalition, killing one disabled student and adding 1,200 to the more than 3.4 million already forced out of education in the country as over 3,600 schools have been forced to close in the course of the war.

“Can you imagine? These are the soldiers of the wars to come,” Subay told Index. “Without education, these children could become tomorrow’s fighters and tools in the hands of extremists.”

At dawn on 4 September Subay travelled to Bani Waleed to create a mural on what remained of al-Najah.

Credit: Ruins campaign. Bani Waleed, September 2016

“When we got there I asked some of the students what they were going to do now that their school was destroyed and some told me they will go to Sanaa while others said they will travel to surrounding villages,” Subay said. “But it will be much more difficult for the 400 girls who attended the school because traditions in Yemen mean they will not be able to travel alone, making it impossible for them to go to other villages to study.”

2016 Freedom of Expression Fellow Murad Subay

Murad Subay is the 2016 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Arts Award-winner and fellow. His practice involves Yemenis in creating murals that protest the country’s civil war. Read more about Subay’s work.

Destroying schools isn’t a big deal for the warring parties, the artist added. “Some of the children of those leaders who shout ‘death to America’ are studying at the best universities in the world, including in the USA, while each bombed school in Yemen – especially big ones like al-Haima – will take years to rebuild.”

The situation is made even more difficult in a time of war when resources and building materials are almost impossible to come by. “Even if the West stopped supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia today and patted themselves on the back saying ‘we are doing good’, Saudi Arabia already has enough to wage wars for another 150 years if it wants.”

If there is any hope for peace to prevail and schools, hospitals and other buildings belonging to the people are to be rebuilt, countries like Britain and America should take a step further and tell Saudi Arabia “to show restraint”, Subay said.

“While Saudi Arabia is doing the majority of the destruction, all sides of the war in Yemen must take responsibility.”


Credit: Ruins campaign. Bani Waleed, September 2016


Credit: Ruins campaign. Bani Waleed, September 2016


Credit: Ruins campaign. Bani Waleed, September 2016

The mural completed on 4 September depicts a child holding a hand grenade in place of a book, with the words “Children without schools” painted in English and Arabic.

When painting with fellow artists from the Ruins campaign – set up in May 2015 in collaboration with fellow artist Thi Yazen to paint on the walls of buildings damaged by the war – on 25 August,  the group were arrested and interrogated by a local militia.

“They asked us to sign a letter with our fingerprints promising that we would not return again without permission,” Subay explains. “I actually did have permission from a local tribal leader but they wouldn’t listen.”

The artists were told if they returned they would be punished.

“My friends were very afraid and some of them said even with permission they would not return,” Subay said. “It was a strange situation for them.”

Subway himself isn’t put off and is already looking forward the next Ruins campaign, wherever that may be.


The last time he spoke with Index, Ruins had just completed a series of murals in front of the Central Bank of Yemen to represent the country’s economic collapse. Soon after the murals were finished, Houthi rebels defaced two out of the three works of art, writing “Samidoon” (صامدون), meaning “steadfast”, which is one of their slogans.

Assessing the situation in Yemen and the many different sides of the conflict, Subay said: “It is very difficult. Every night we hear airstrikes here and there, but we go on with our lives.”

“But any day when I can paint is a good one.”

Nominations are now open for 2017 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards and will remain open until 3 October. You can make yours here.


Freedom of Expression Award 2016 Speech – Murad Subay


“I am honored to be here with all of you today and for that, I would like to thank Index on Censorship for giving me this award, for believing in me and for acknowledging our work back home.

I want to thank my friends who join me every time I paint the walls of the streets and who share with me the same concerns over the issues that are really important. I also want to thank the good people of Yemen who have always supported us and who were the spirit of every campaign I launched to paint in the streets.

I would like to take this opportunity tonight to shed light on one of the biggest concerns for me and for many Yemenis. As many of you know, Yemen is going through one of the hardest times in its history, with the outbreak of internal and regional armed conflicts. Yemenis suffered greatly even before these conflicts broke out, and they’re going through this alone, but it seems that the heavy losses that Yemenis endure every day isn’t enough yet to capture the interest of the international community and media.

I dedicate this award today to the unknown people who struggle to survive, and I do not talk about those who are fighting the war with their weapons. Rather, I talk about every person who suffers a serious injury, who lost a family member or a loved one, who lost their home, school and job and who struggles to keep their family alive when they were starved to death. Those women, men and children are the real heroes that we should all bow to in respect for moving on and holding on to life.

Therefore, for the world’s presidents, kings and leaders who misused their power, it is true that you might never be tried, but you should know that you are leaving behind a dirty legacy in the time when you should concentrate on the real issues that face humanity, rather than throwing mindless wars and engaging the world in killing one another.

Again, I thank Index on Censorship and all its team for this award, and I thank you all for listening to me sharing my concern with you. Let’s hope for peace to prevail in Yemen as soon as it can be.

Thank you.”


كلمتي أثناء تسلمي لجائزة “حرية التعبير 2016” إنجلترا

يشرفني ان أكون هنا معكم جميعاً اليوم، ولهذا، أود أن اشكر منظمة “Index On Censorship” على منحي هذه الجائزة، على إيمانهم بي واعترافهم بعملنا في الوطن.

وأود أن أشكر أصدقائي الذين ينضمون لي في كل مرة للرسم على جدران الشوارع، والذين يتشاركون معي نفس المخاوف بشأن القضايا المهمة. أريد أيضاً أن اشكر الناس الطيبين في اليمن والذين ساندونا دائما ولطالما كانوا روح كل حملة أطلقتها للرسم على جدران الشارع.

أود أن اغتنم هذه الفرصة الليلة لتسليط الضوء على واحدة من أكبر المخاوف بالنسبة لي وبالنسبة للكثير من اليمنيين. كما يعلم الكثيرون منكم، اليمن تمر بأصعب الأوقات في تاريخها مع اندلاع الصراعات الداخلية والإقليمية. عانى اليمنيون كثيراً حتى قبل اندلاع هذه الصراعات، واليوم يخوضون هذه الأوقات الصعبة بمفردهم، ولكن يبدو ان الخسائر الثقيلة التي يتحملها اليمنيون كل يوم ليست كافية حتى الآن لجذب انتباه المجتمع الدولي والإعلام.

أهدي هذه الجائزة اليوم إلى الأشخاص المجهولين الذين يكافحون من أجل البقاء على قيد الحياة، وأنا لا أتحدث عن أولئك الذين يخوضون هذه الصراعات بأسلحتهم. بالأحرى، أنا اتحدث عن كل شخص يعاني من إصابة خطيرة، او فقد أحد افراد اسرته أو محبوبيه، أو فقد منزله أو مدرسته أو وظيفته، أو كافح للحفاظ على اسرته على قيد الحياة عندما كانوا يموتون جوعاً بسبب الحرب. هؤلاء النساء، الرجال والأطفال هم الأبطال الحقيقيين الذي يجب علينا جميعا أن ننحني لهم إجلالا واكبارا لمواصلتهم الحياة وتمسكهم بها.

لذلك، لكل رؤساء وملوك وقادة العالم الذين اساؤوا ويسيئون استخدام سلطتهم، صحيح انكم قد لا تحاكمون ابداً، ولكن يجب أن تعرفوا انكم تتركون ورائكم إرث قذر في الوقت عينه الذي ينبغي بكم ان تركزوا على القضايا الحقيقية التي تواجه البشرية، بدلاً من إلقاء الحروب الطائشة وإشراك العالم في قتل بعضهم بعضاً.

مرة أخرى، أشكر منظمة “Index On Censorship” وفريقها على منحي هذه الجائزة، واشكركم جميعا لاستماعكم لي أشارك مخاوفي معكم. دعونا نأمل أن يسود السلام في اليمن بأسرع ما يمكن.

شكرا لكم.

جائزة حرية التعبير البريطانية 2016
جائزة حرية التعبير البريطانية 2016



#IndexAwards2016: Murad Subay sheds light on human cost of Yemen’s war

By Georgia Hussey, 18 March 2016

In 2011, artist Murad Subay took to the streets of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a to protest the country’s dysfunctional economy and institutionalised corruption, and to bring attention to a population besieged by conflict. Choosing street art as his medium of protest, he’s since run five campaigns to promote peace and art, and to discuss sensitive political and social issues in society. Unlike many street artists, all his painting is done in public, during the day, often with passers by getting involved themselves.

Murad Subay

Since 2011, jihadist attacks and sectarian clashes have engulfed Yemen, and in 2015 a civil war began between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government. The exiled Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition stood against the Houthi militia, and those loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and backed by Iran.

In the last seven months the conflict has hit the already unstable country, leading to over 21 million people – 82 percent of the population – needing humanitarian assistance. In addition, a strong Al-Qaeda presence has drawn repeated drone strikes from the United States.

“Yemenis live under catastrophic conditions due to the conflicts, considering that they are already one of the poorest nations in the world,” Subay told Index. “They lack food, water and medicine, and they are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.” With his art, Subay aims to highlight the situation in which millions of Yemenis find themselves in today.

Murad started his graffiti campaigns with The Walls Remember Their Faces, drawing the faces of Yemeni citizens who had been forcibly disappeared.

“This particular campaign meant so much to me,” he said. “I felt that I got closer to those people every time we painted their faces. Almost every week people came holding the picture of their long disappeared family member, so that we paint it on the walls.”

He then began Colour the Walls of Your Street, claiming back the bombed remains of Yemen’s capital, followed by 12 Hours in 2013. 12 Hours was an hour-by-hour series with each piece depicting one of 12 problems facing Yemen, including weapons proliferation, sectarianism, kidnapping and poverty. The project used social media to call Yemeni citizens to action, painting walls with messages about government and policy across Yemen’s capital.
His latest campaign Ruins was initiated in May 2015, in collaboration with artist Thi Yazen. The project involves them painting on the walls of buildings damaged by the war, to provide a memorial for the thousands of war victims, and to highlight war crimes.

Subay has faced pressure from the authorities, who have covered his work or stopped him from extending his campaigns to other towns. However ordinary Yemenis — including victims’ families — have gotten behind his campaigns by painting alongside Subay, or repainting pieces “scrubbed out” by authorities.

Murad Subay continues to shed light on the human cost of the war, taking his murals to other cities in Yemen, including Aden, Taizz, Ebb and Hodeidah.