This House believes censorship makes a mockery of the arts

Monday May 21 2012
MOTION PASSED by 58% to 42%

Opinion poll


Doha, Qatar, 20 June 2012 – Six out of ten Arabs believe governments have to censor the arts especially "nudity" and "offensive language" before it goes public, according to the latest Doha Debates poll.

State "intervention" is required because "art can be indecent" and "to protect religious beliefs", they said.

The majority of respondents claimed modern art classes at universities in the Arab world should also be censored. But they made it clear that the practice will not be able to "block the power of arts because ideas and beliefs survive in our imagination".

The poll findings sharply contrasted with results of the May 21 Doha Debate in which 58 percent voted in support of the motion: ‘This House believes censorship makes a mockery of the arts’.

However, the majority of those who supported censorship in the poll came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen compared to the more open societies of the Levant and North Africa.

Just under half of those surveyed across the region believed censorship should be most applied on Internet websites, music videos and at the cinema. But they also admitted that increased Internet penetration across the region would hamper censorship.

They were of the belief that "well-respected members of the society" followed by "leading intellectuals" and "religious leaders" should decide what needs to be blocked instead of politicians.

Many opposed state-censorship because it is "against freedom of expression" and "blocks the message(s) the artist is trying to convey" and that every citizen should independently decided what they want to be exposed to.

Respondents also showed division on the "merit" of blacking out bare female flesh in Western magazines though a larger portion of those surveyed said they "feel frustrated when some scenes are cut from foreign movies".

Only 10 percent of the sample of 1,013 respondents in the poll conducted by the polling company YouGov categorically rejected censorship.


Polling dates: 30th May - 3rd June 2012

Download the polling data [PDF]

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