To protest the arrest and imprisonment of members of the Al Jazeera English staff in Cairo, journalists around the world are carrying out a social media campaign that asks: What if all journalists were muzzled? As part of the protest, journalists are posting self-portraits on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook showing themselves with their mouths gagged and taped. Some hold signs demanding the release of the Al Jazeera journalists. They’re posting the images with the hashtag #FreeAJstaff.
On December 29, Egyptian authorities raided the Cairo office of Al Jazeera and arrested four employees. Last week, the government announced it was charging 20 journalists affiliated with the network, including five foreigners, with inciting terrorism and being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ruling party that was ousted from power by the Egyptian military in July. Journalists have been repeatedly attacked since the military took power, according to human rights and press freedom groups.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, other human rights organizations and press freedom groups have called for the immediate dismissal of the charges.
Today CNN International Correspondent Christian Amanpour held a #FreeAJStaff sign on the air. Journalists in Nairobi have staged a protest outside the Egyptian embassy to demand the release of imprisoned Al Jazeera staffers. Among those who have been detained since December is the Nairobi-based, Australian-born journalist Peter Greste, the East Africa correspondent for Al Jazeera.