Now more than ever, we need to protect ART and creativity to protect humanity.

I am going to write about the latest social and global censorship, backlash, and canceling culture, and why at moments becomes a dangerous movement that could help dictatorships and extremely religious communities to eliminate minorities like liberals, feminists, LGBT. Their excuse will be “that every community has the right to fight back anything that the majority find unsuitable” liberals, open-minded, and seculars will pay the price.

 Let me tell you why it is dangerous, Art is the air that we all breathe, the fresh air that takes our pain away, for one or two hours we travel somewhere else away from our nightmare, some of us escape from the systemic dictatorships were even speaking among friends get you questioned and silenced by physical torture or psychological torture, sometimes in the middle east members in the community will ask the leadership of the country to silence artist, writers, actors or movie creators and implement a maximum penalty. ART is not just a melody and a couple of lyrics and audience dancing, millions of people around the world view ART, Music, Movies, and Books as a form of therapy to their trauma, Art is a form of escape for people with depression, anxiety, and those living in a war zone, to people experiencing domestic violence their only escape is Art, Music, Movies and Books, Art is a form of escapism to those experiencing physical illness too.

In the middle east Art is a requirement to break the ice with the western world but not as an important part of life to move forward, people and leaders are approaching ART like it’s just museums, halls for concerts, and a couple of songs here and there, and not as a billion-dollar industry. In the Middle East, they think that spending millions and billions of dollars on sport, real-estates, and commerce is the only source of wealth. Spending millions on concerts to show the rest of the world that we have artists, but the content is censored, the lyrics are censored and monitored and some songs are created in one day, the melodies are not well done, we don’t treat art and artists as a fundamental part of society, we don’t treat writers, musicians, and actors as if they can change the world and as part of a cultural movement and part of our civilization, unlike the western world and how they view movies and music, for example in the Western world if an artist is creating a new album the whole world stops for it as if it’s a national security matter, and movies and shows sets are protected as if it’s a military base. In fact, Artists around the world are part of the society shaping process, celebrated by presidents and royals, their funerals held by leaders and royals all around the world but the Middle East. 

 Here is an example of Middle Eastern talents whose work changed the world but ours: 

 { Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize Winner) stabbed with a knife, Gibran Khalil Gibran ( The Prophet) some middle eastern countries banned and burnt his books, Taha Hussein whose work influenced writers and intellectuals, he’s known for leading “modernist movement in the Middle East and North Africa” he was attacked and threatened,   Fairuz is The greatest artist of our time we don’t treat her like how legends are being treated around the world and have been attacked so many times and her songs were banned by religious groups in some countries,  Omar AL SharifWadih El Safi (Middle Eastern Frank Sinatra), and last but not least Yusuf Idris.

Art from my own experience is being killed by everyone pulling the trigger on it and threating it to become something else, when I used to get bullied at school and called all kind of racist slurs from the N word at school, to one guy telling me that he will sacrifice a lot by being with a black girl because of how society view interracial relationships, being called all kind of names every day from middle school and later in life, as a feminist I was forced out of the family because I became an Artist and I became a shame to my extended family, people within my community started to call me names like whore and prostitute because I’m an artist and basically they didn’t like the way I was dressing-up, and the way I speak my mind, later on I was attacked by a professor at the collage that I attend by saying “feminists are at the bottom of society ladder, and they are the garbage of the society and those women must be taken down and take their voices from them” at that time with all the things that was going in my brain it was too much and the only things that helped was my DAD taking actions against him because everyone in the class room thought it was normal and there is nothing wrong with what he said, and also what helped me the most is Music, Creativity , Books and Art , I used to watch all kind of movies and shows, reading all kinds of books, and for an hour or two it took me to place where I really felt happy, and I felt like it’s a free world far from the mini prison I was living in. When it comes to art no one within it should have limits, I used to watch every kind of movies the ones that I agree with or the ones I extremely disagree with, what I liked about the Art world is that it’s free from all religious and political interference (in the Western World of course), it gives creative people a place to be themselves away from the harsh reality, as a Muslim Black Feminist girl after participating in a musical reality show I’ve seen the worse in people, people used to call me all night long to bully me and telling me all kind of dirty words, how I will never get married and no one will ever love me, I used to have sexual harassment phone calls with men masturbating on the phone and close family members regularly throw hateful words about feminists. And as Always Art, Music, Movies, and Books saved my life, my depression and anxiety, and panic attacks came from the real world not from Art, Movies, and Music, even though a producer and a director created and show about me in Bahrain he only changed my name, of course, the show starts with a girl coming back from a musical reality show from Bahrain, he portrayed me as a girl who sleeps with men in condos, from man to man, filthy and has no manners and h even kept the same haircut, everyone in the country knew it was about me because I was known for that haircut, even with what I was going through, I thought to myself it’s just a show and it has nothing to do with who I am because I have the freedom too, to show who I am for real through my art, yes, I disagree with a lot of movies, shows, books, and music videos but Art is free from all kinds of restriction and judgment that’s what gave me hope that I have a place to be myself without being judged or brought down. 

I will explain to you why restricting and censoring ART is dangerous because everyone is going to use it the way they feel is right from their point of view and take advantage of it by dictators and conservative groups, why?, because (everyone thinks that they are doing the right thing from their perspective and what is right for me, is wrong for someone else) sometimes we get lost in the way of making things right, thinking that the only way to fight hate, darkness, and evil powers is through hate and darkness, thinking that only darkness can defeat darkness, bullies and trolls are can only be stopped by bullying them back, when I was younger I thought that I need to bully my bullies to defeat them but later in life, I started to educate myself by reading books and healing myself I realized that wars, hate, darkness will never defeat evil but will make it more powerful and I might lose the kind, the companionate person inside of me, you became exactly what the thing you’re fighting against without knowing that you are becoming it. The danger of censoring and restricting art in the Western World will make leaders and extremely religious groups to take it as an excuse to silence everyone, by saying that art is harming society in real live and its destroying the nation values, and it happened so many times to me and my dad ( whose the only feminist I know in my life, he’s the one who taught me how to be a one) he had so many messages on social media asking him to remove my photos because it’s inappropriate in our society plus that it’s not acceptable to post it, claiming that it’s sabotaging the general values (by the way he never took removed those photos),my dad had a phone call from a senior official in the country asking him why he didn’t ask for permission before participate in a that musical reality show, the same reason why so many girls from the region withdraw from the auditions, because the officials in their countries won’t allow them, also because the members in their communities protested against tem participating in the show, so my dad didn’t back down and I became the FIRST GIRL from the GCC to participate in that show, my dad response to the senior official was “I will not kill my daughter’s dreams just because group of people in society felt like controlling my daughter’s future” my dad faced a huge backlash some people asked him to ask me to withdraw from the competition and member of the family were angry and stopped speaking to my parents and coming to our house, my cousins stopped hanging out with me because I quote what one of my aunties said to her daughter “ if you hang out with her people will assume that you are a whore exactly like her”. And it was just the beginning.  

 So many schools in the country canceled musical and acting classes because people in the community felt like it’s better to teach girls how to cook, clean and teaching them religious values than some sinful class, they canceled all the art classes and replaced them with gardening and cooking classes, even the cinemas have been censored in the middle east , nowadays they edit movies and cut them to the point you don’t understand what happened in the movie, they cut intimate scenes , hugging and kissing scenes and if the women in the scene is wearing lingerie it get cut, so basically we are left with few scenes, most of the movies don’t get the editorial cut because the committee in the ministry of information affairs that is responsible about the movies is controlled by a religious members, there been discussion about banning some books because it will disrupt society , for example my dad’s books were attacked in mosques and he’s been called a “dirty atheist” in a clear direct threat, when it come to me, as a female artist I’ll be questioned by the officials if group of religious people find my work unsuitable , to the point where I could be sentenced to sometime in jail for a music video or the wrong dress I wore on the red carpet. 

 We are here to build this life together, lets disagree and change the world through healthy conversations, let us create Art that includes everyone, let’s not wish for each other’s death. And we are already setting under a Mental Health bomb that one day will explode and we will have a new pandemic bigger than Covid-19. 

 And to the Middle Eastern communities let’s make Art our priority to fight extremism and hate speech, by separating art from religion, and just like the infrastructure Highways, Metros, Hospitals, and bridges, Art is the most important infrastructure toward modern civilization.

Again, Art is the Air that filters all the chaos and noises in our daily lives, it refreshes our lunges from the social pollution we breathe through our minds, Art is like forests it helps to recycle the air we breathe and fights the deadly emissions that come from cars, coal mines and the Carbon Dioxide that comes from hundreds and thousands of harmful sources. 

Last but not least, I will end this post with two powerful quotes from two great women, and this is what they think of ART:

The first quote By Toni Morrison  

“There is no civilization that did not begin with art, whether it was drawing a line in the sand, painting a cave, or dancing.”

The second Quote By Oprah Winfrey   

“I fundamentally believe the right to anyone to use their imagination and their skills to tell a story if one author I felt, one artist is silenced we’re all in danger of the same”

ShoroK ♥♫

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