A rapper, a drag queen, a cartoonist, and a blues band have all been nominated for the Index of Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards 2015. The Award "recognizes artists whose work asserts artistic freedom and battles repression and injustice." More than 2000 people were nominated, and 17 have made the shortlists in various categories. “The Index Freedom of Expression Awards recognize some of the world’s most courageous journalists, artists and campaigners,” said Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index. “These individuals and groups often work in isolation, with little funding or support, but they are all driven by the vision of a world in which everyone can express themselves freely – no matter who they are or what they believe.”
Moroccan rapper Mouad ‘El Haqed’ Belghouat has been in prison three times since 2011 and had his albums banned, but "continues to make music about endemic corruption in the Moroccan state and widespread poverty in his country." Irish drag performer Panti Bliss (aka Rory O'Neill) made world headlines last year with a speech about being gay in Ireland following a furor over homophobia within sections of the Irish media--"The TV station hosting Panti backed down to legal threats, but O’Neill didn’t, taking to the stage of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre as Panti to eloquently defend his statements." Ecaudorian cartoonist Xavier ‘Bonil’ Bonilla "has repeatedly faced legal action, fines and smear campaigns from his country’s government," and has been the target of the Government's Communications Act, "ostensibly allowing government the right to decide what journalistic work was or wasn’t appropriate." And Mali musicians Songhoy Blues fled the north of the country as refugees after Islamist militants imposed sharia law (which forbids secular music). "Calling for an end to the conflict, their music plays to an audience made up of both Songhoys and Tuaregs – two previously feuding North Malian groups now expelled from their homes by insurgent Islamist groups."
[Check out the "Most Interesting Finds" on Amazon ]