Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the photographers community are mobilizing for Mahmoud Abou Zeid, an imprisoned Egyptian photojournalist also known as Shawkan, who is facing the possibility of death by hanging.
The international campaign, which will start at 10 a.m. Central European Time tomorrow (10 April), aims to get as many people as possible to post photos of themselves with the hashtag #MyPicForShawkan on social networks. It will be relayed, amongst others, in the 12 countries where RSF is represented.
In the photos, they are asked to pose as Shawkan did for a photo during a court appearance, miming the action of taking photo.
Many well-known people have agreed to take part in the campaign. They include the photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand and many others (see the list below).
“We have decided to launch this solidarity campaign on social networks because of the gravity of the situation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We are aware of the power of a popular movement on the Internet and we know its efficacy in shaking things up. If we succeed in mobilizing thousands of people around the world, the Egyptian government will not be able to ignore our appeal.”
Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 while trying to provide the Demotix photo agency with coverage of police breaking up a demonstration in support of deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square. Egyptian prosecutors requested the death penalty for the photographer on 3 March.
Photographers and journalists participating to the campaign:
- Visa pour l'Image festival founder and director, Jean-François Leroy
- Photoreporters Patrick Baz, Pauline Beugnies, Samuel Bollendorf, William Daniels, Mathias Depardon, Laurence Geai, Guillaume Herbaut, Seif Kousmate, Frédéric Lafargue, Catalina Martin-Chico, Frédéric Noy, Ammar Abd Rabbo, Michel Slomka, Mélanie Wenger...
- Bayeux Calvados-Normandy award
- Members of MYOP agency and Studio Hans Lucas
- Members of photographer collectives Argos, Collectif item, Riva press
- The journalists Dimitri Beck, Loup Bureau, Auberi Edler, Claude Guibal, Etienne Huver, Lucas Menget, Thomas Misrachi, Vincent Nguyen, Clémentine Sarlat, Fabienne Sintes, Jean Stern...
And RSF team:
The photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, alias Shawkan is one of the more than 700 defendants in a political mass trial in Cairo for whom the “maximum penalty” – death by hanging – was requested by the prosecution on 3 March.
Arrested in connection with an anti-government protest in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in August 2013, they are all accused indiscriminately of charges that include murder, attempted murder and membership of a banned organization (the Muslim Brotherhood).
“Seeking the death penalty for a photographer who simply covered an opposition demonstration is a political punishment, not an act of justice,” RSF said. “Shawkan’s only crime was trying to do his job as a photographer. He must be freed at once.”
Shawkan was arrested on 14 August 2013 while on assignment for the British photo agency Demotix, covering the use of force by the security forces to break up the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square protest by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. His detention is regarded as arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index.