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Exhibition of Egyptian photojournalist facing death penalty on show at Great St Mary's Church in Cambridge


By Gemma Gardner


A picture from Egyptian photojournalist, Shawkan
A picture from Egyptian photojournalist, Shawkan

Cambridge City Amnesty group has organised display of Shawkan's work

From left, Laura and Sue Woodsford at the opening of the exhibition of photographs by Egyptian photojournalist, Shawkan at Great St Marys Church. Picture - Richard Marsham
From left, Laura and Sue Woodsford at the opening of the exhibition of photographs by Egyptian photojournalist, Shawkan at Great St Marys Church. Picture - Richard Marsham

An exhibition of pictures taken by Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid has opened in Cambridge.

The photographer, known as Shawkan, is potentially facing the death penalty as part of a mass trial alongside more than 700 other defendants.

He was arrested as he photographed security forces dispersing an anti-government sit-in, during which hundreds of protesters and several security forces members were killed – and has been imprisoned without trial since August 2013.

Shawkan is accused of a broad range of crimes, including murder and attempted murder, unauthorised assembly and a string of weapons charges – despite his legal team arguing he was documenting the protests for the UK photo agency Demotix.

A work by Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan, which is on display at Great St Marys Church
A work by Egyptian photojournalist Shawkan, which is on display at Great St Marys Church

Organised by Cambridge City Amnesty group, the exhibition at Great St Mary’s Church titled The Price of Photography was opened on Friday August 3 by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner.

Liesbeth Ten Ham, Amnesty’s regional representative for East Anglia, said: “I hope that many people in Cambridge will enjoy seeing Shawkan’s photographs which were taken in Cairo in the two years prior to his arrest in August 2013.

“They show daily life as well as the tense political atmosphere. We hope that many will be inspired to sign our letter to the Egyptian government and that he will be promptly released.”

Shawkan recently won the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize and his work is internationally recognised, having appeared in many publications, including Time magazine, Die Zeit and The Sun.

Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid - know as Shawkan
Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid - know as Shawkan

Mr Zeichner is a long-time supporter of the human rights work undertaken by the campaigning organisation Amnesty International.

In recent years, he has been involved in a number of human rights campaigns. These include the Truth for Giulio campaign, which is seeking answers over the death of Cambridge University student Giulio Regeni who was found brutally murdered in Cairo in 2016.

Mr Zeichner said: “I am sure that many residents will take the opportunity to see the work of Shawkan, who is an award winning photojournalist and clearly very talented.”

He continued: “It is extremely worrying that Shawkan has been imprisoned as a result of doing his job and documenting important political events occurring in Cairo.

The exhibition of photographs by Egyptian photojournalist, Shawkan at Great St Marys Church. Picture - Richard Marsham
The exhibition of photographs by Egyptian photojournalist, Shawkan at Great St Marys Church. Picture - Richard Marsham

“The length of time he has been in pre-trial detention is unacceptable and completely undermines basic principles of justice and human rights. I hope that the government is raising Egypt’s human rights record during any bilateral discussions as a matter of great importance.”

On March 3, the prosecutor called publicly for the death sentence for all 739 defendants involved in the court case, including Shawkan.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the chance to sign letters to the president of Egypt requesting Shawkan’s release, and have their own photo taken with a giant ‘Free Shawkan’ poster.

The exhibition at Great St Mary’s is open daily from 10am to 5pm until August 31.

Read more

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