Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as Shawkan, has been in jail since 14 August 2013 when he was arrested while covering a demonstration at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo. Egyptian prosecutors requested the death penalty for the photographer on 3 March 2018.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has qualified his arrest and detention as arbitrary and contrary to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On 10 April 2018, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched a solidarity campaign aiming to get as many people as possible to post photos of themselves with the hashtag #MyPicForShawkan on social networks. The campaign is being supported by photographers and journalists round the world.
We have decided to launch this solidarity campaign on social networks because of the gravity of the situation. 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.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire
On 23 April 2018, Shawkan was selected by an independent international jury of media professionals as the laureate of the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize.
“The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” said Maria Ressa, President of the Jury.
The Prize will be awarded on 2 May 2018 on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), celebrated in Ghana this year and whose theme is Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law.
On WPFD, stand with Shawkan by posting photos with the hashtag #MyPicForShawkan on social networks posing as he did for a photo during a court appearance by miming the action of taking photo.