GRAFFITI ARTIST HONORS SLAIN EGYPTIAN ACTIVISTSept. 19, 2011
Egyptian blogger Khaled Said, who was beaten to death by police in Alexandria last summer after uploading videos of law enforcement officials abusing citizens, is often thought of as the face of the nation’s revolution. Photos of the 28-year-old’s disfigured body circulated widely on the internet and became a symbol of the police brutality that ran rampant under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Within days, the Facebook campaign “We Are All Khaled Said” was launched and outraged protesters took to the streets.
Now, the image of Said is being revived in a new light. Said’s sister, Zahrra Kassem, and German graffiti artist Andreas von Chrzanowski (aka Case) are painting a portrait of the slain activist onto two pieces of the Berlin Wall. The painting is part of the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation’s award ceremony tonight, Sept. 19, 2011, which is honoring Said and Tunisian activist Slim Amamou with its annual Human Rights Award.
The painting subsequently travels to Freedom Park, on the banks of Germany’s river Spree. After that, the Goethe Institute is sponsoring another painting of the portrait in Said’s hometown, Alexandria, in October.
The policemen involved in Said’s death are currently on trial, but no decision has been reached. Official reports vary and many believe that a final decision could be long off. The Egyptian government initially claimed that Said swallowed a bag of drugs after he was approached by police and the cause of death was asphyxiation. Witnesses say he was at an internet café when police hauled him out and beat him to death in public. Khaled supporters believe that Said was assassinated by police in retaliation for a video he was posting online that showed policemen pocketing the evidence from a drug bust.
Police were reportedly instructed to target anyone filming or documenting the uprising. In Cairo, six months later, Egyptian artist Ahmed Basiony -- the nation’s representative at this year’s Venice Biennale -- was killed by sniper gunfire while recording footage for his documentary Friday of Rage.