An opinion poll conducted earlier this month shows that while some Arabs are against government censorship of the arts, most support it.
By Sayid Kadry
An opinion poll conducted by the Doha Debates television programme reveals that six out of 10 Arab citizens support government censorship of the arts, especially when it comes to nudity or profane language.
According to the poll, conducted between 30 May and 3 June, most said that the existence of regulatory bodies and institutions affiliated with the state is a must, as art could be “inappropriate” and offend “religious beliefs.”
Most of those polled suggested that censorship was needed on modern art taught in Arab universities, but most also said that censorship would not be able to stand in the way of artists because thoughts and beliefs live in our imaginations.
The results of the poll came in contrast to the position the majority of people took in the last session organised by the Doha Debates in Qatar, where 58 per cent of attendees believed that censorship ruins art.
In the poll, most of those who supported government censorship of art came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen. Poll samples from less conservative countries in the region returned different results.
Less than half of those poll suggested that government censorship should be implemented on cinema, music, universities and the internet. However, they saw that the rise in the number of internet users in the Arab world would challenge censorship efforts.
Those against censorship saw conflicts with freedom of expression and added that censorship would constrain the messages artist wish to deliver. They said it should be left to the individual to decide what he or she wants to watch or experience.