Tuesday, April 24, 2018

And Shawkan makes press history in Egypt for real

Earlier Monday, the UNESCO announced it awarded detained Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid aka Shawkan its UNESCO /Guillermo Cano Press Freedom prize for 2018.
“The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” said Filipino veteran journalist and head jury of the prize Maria Ressa.
Shawkan in court behind bars "AFP"
Shawkan has been detained for four years since his arrest during Rabaa sit-in while doing his job as a freelance journalist working for Demotix agency.
He was accompanied by two foreign journalists who were arrested as well by security forces. Those two foreign journalists were released and left the country leaving Shawkan behind facing hell because he does not have a foreign passport.
Shawkan has been behind bars for two years without any charges till he was charged officially with six charges in March 2016.
He is facing the death penalty for a number of charges above them the incitement to murder

This is the first time an Egyptian journalist or photojournalist wins this important award. He is third Arab to win it after May Chidiac of Lebanon "2006" and Mazen Darwich of Syria "2015"

Earlier Sunday, Egyptian foreign ministry’s official spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid issued a statement saying that the ministry expressed its regret on how the UNESCO nominated “an accused charged with murder and vandalism”.

The statement which is provoking and so bad honestly claims that human rights organizations related to Qatar were behind that nomination !! It is always Qatar !!

I feel angry that Egypt’s foreign ministry issues such statement.
The Egyptian parliament and its speaker as well its human rights committee followed Egypt’s MFA and issued statements slamming and warning the UNESCO against awarding the Press Freedom prize to Shawkan.
The award of the most bizarre comment in that sad affair goes to the head of the human rights committee Alaa Abed. The former police officer said on Monday that the UNESCO should award Mohamed Salah instead of Shawkan because he is a good role model to youth everywhere !!
I do not know the relation between Salah and the UNESCO !!

Officially, Mahmoud Abu Zeid aka Shawkan is a defendant in front of the court and defendants are innocent until proven guilty in all the world except Egypt.
I am disturbed on how Egypt’s foreign ministry and parliament act as the freelance photojournalist had been found guilty by the court.

By the way, it is not the first press freedom award received by Shawkan behind bars.
In June 2016, Shawkan won the US-based National press club’s John Aubuchon Press Freedom award.  He was awarded the International Press Freedom Award in the same year the Committee to Protect Journalists “CPJ”.

Anyhow, I am happy for both Mohamed Salah and Shawkan.
Hopefully, Shawkan will be released soon to watch Salah playing in the World Cup inshallah. 

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