The Daily News Egypt

Egypt denounces nomination of Shawkan for UNESCO’s press freedom prize

Photojourn­alist has been in pre-trial detention since 2013

- By Sarah El-Sheikh

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep regret over the United Nations Educationa­l, Scientific, and Cultural Organisati­on (UNESCO)’s honouring of the photojourn­alist Mahmoud Abu Zaid, known as Shawkan, who has been in pretrial detention since 2013.

The ministry said that it was informed that the UNESCO is seeking to grant Shawkan the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize and denounced the considerat­ion of the photojourn­alist for the award.

“We deeply regret the involvemen­t of UNESCO in honouring a person accused of terrorist acts and criminal offenses, that include deliberate murder, assaulting police and citizens, and destructio­n of public and private property,” the ministry said.

Shawkan was arrested while photograph­ing the dispersal of the Rabaa sit-ins that were organised in 2013 to support Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhoo­d regime. He is involved in the case known as “Rabaa dispersal” that includes the trial of 739 defendants. He is the only journalist among the defendants.

His lawyers claimed before court that he was on duty covering the events when security forces stormed Rabaa Square in Nasr City to disperse the large brotherhoo­d sit-in, which followed the ousting of the brotherhoo­d-affiliated president Morsi.

The ministry said that it assigned Egypt’s permanent delegate to the UNESCO in Paris to hand over the secretaria­t a report regarding all the accusation­s levelled against Shawkan, which all are purely criminal in nature and irrelevant to the practice of the profession of the press or freedom of expression.

“Granting defendant Shawkan the [Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize] is a disregard for the rule of law and the proceeding­s taken against a defendant accused of crimes,” the ministry said, adding that the UNESCO needs a comprehens­ive and serious review of its working methods during the next phase under the new chairperso­nship of the organisati­on.

The Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was establishe­d by the UNESCO’s executive board in 1997 in honour of Guillermo Cano, a Colombian journalist who died while exercising his profession. Its winner will be announced in May.

 ??  ?? Photojourn­alist Mahmoud Abu Zaid, known as Shawkan
Photojourn­alist Mahmoud Abu Zaid, known as Shawkan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Egypt