1/

Freedom Fighters – Arab spring

2011-2012
Arab people couldn't take any more. Revolution icons made out of a digital collage process.
With the support of CNAP - National Center for Plastic Arts, French Ministry for Culture. Shortlisted at Sony World Photography Awards 2012, Portrait Fine Art category. On show at international photojournalism festival Visa Pour l'Image 2012, at Iremmo in 2013, in Marseille and Dunkerque in the group exhibition 'Arab Springs' in 2012 et 2013, curated by Alain Mingam.
Personal projects

‘1/25’ – Egypt

June 2012 - Egypt
Portraits of activists and players of the Egyptian revolution of January 25th 2011, which has led to the fall of president Hosni Mubarak on february 11th, 2011. A year and a half later, for the most of them revolution continues, as setting deeply democratic values is a painstaking mission that requires time. In the meantime the Muslim Brothers won the political game, seemingly at least, but seed for change has been planted for sure.
Graphic inspiration for this series came from the walls around Tahrir square mainly. Layers and layers of expression, graffitis, drawings, municipal paint recovering, stencils... led me to reproduce the spirit on these walls while integrating thoses various freedom fighters.
Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress
Samira Ibrahim Mohamed, 25. She was arrested during a protest in march 2011 and was mauled and humiliated through a so called virginity test. She complained against the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) which condemned her to 1 year of prison suspended sentence. She lost her job. Political parties turned their back to her. Local medias ignored her case. And other girls or women who went through the same experience prefered not to bear witness. Death threats on the phone also happened. In 2003 she was called up for the first time by the State security because of a school essay hostile to the regime. Graffitis : You will not be able to break me – No to sexual harassment. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Halim Henish, 24, studying law. He’s one of the leaders of the Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement. Arrested two times before the revolution of january 25th, 2011 and one time after. He joined the Popular Socialist Coalition founded after the revolution, as he believes a better structure and organisation is needed on the opponents side. Graffitis : Down with the state of Mubarak – Who protects the tyrant ? – Fall of the military rule. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Noor Noor, son of famous politician and candidate to 2005 presidential election Ayman Noor, who stood against Mubarak. Graduated in political sciences, studying law, musician. Arrested several times, he has been deeply involved in the movement against military tribunals for civilians. Graffitis : Freedom never dies – Revolution – No to military tribunals for civilians. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Marwa Nasser, 28. She had been working for 5 years for a Cairo based american company consulting in information technologies when she decided on january 24th, 2011 to go down to Tahrir square to support the protests. She never got back to work. Since these crazy 18 days that shaked the country and led to the fall of Mubarak, she remined faithful to the revolution values and hopes. The revolution actually triggered an inner one and on her views upon her own life. Graffitis : Revolution continues. The blood of the martyrs will not be lost. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Ahmed Douma, 23, studying law, co-founder of Kifaya (It’s enough) movement in 2004 and of the movement of the 6th of april in 2008. He’s involved in many other activist movements. So far he has been arrested 64 times and has spent over 4 years cumulated in prison. Graffitis : Free Douma – Fuck oppression – Resist. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Iman Mohamed, 23, studying information technologies and also a producer for a TV channel. She was a member of the Muslim Brothers organisation until they created their political party ; she left assessing their behaviour towards the members is oppressive and accusing them of diverting from the revolutionnary path. Iman took part to the very first march on january 25th, 2011 that went from Nahia to Tahrir square. She runs some actions with the Movement of the 6th of april. Graffitis : 25th of January – The girl is like a boy – Go down to Tahrir. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Ahmed Saif, 61, lawyer. Since 2003 he fights to provide a legal support for those participating in protests. He has also worked on breaking the red line to critics of the president, and had started to send complaints against torture under Mubarak’s regime. Keeping the critics of the president alive, and soon they may have to challenge the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces). He spent over 4 years in prison in the eighties, where he studied law and political sciences. He at the time was a member of an illegal communist party, El Matrake (The Hammer). Graffitis : Revolution continues – Be afraid of us, government. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Esraa Abdel Fattah, 33. She co-founded the Egyptian Democratic Academy in 2009, an NGO promoting democracy, human rights and political participation. She was arrested for 18 days in 2008 for her supporting the workers strikes, which she actively relayed on facebook. She started to be an activist with Kifaya (It’s enough) movement in 2004 and joined political party Elghad (Tomorrow) in 2005. Graffitis : The rule of the field marechal (Tantaoui) is illegitimate – Bread, freedom and social justice. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Anas El Sultan is an imam issued from the famous islamic university Al Azhar. He took part in the Tahrir square protests, believing this was a duty as the real meaning of jihad was clearly there at the time. He is one of the spiritual sons of martyr and Sheikh Emad Effat (drawing bottom left), dubbed as The Sheikh of the Revolutionaries, killed during the Cabinet clashes in december 2011. Graffitis : Be united or die. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Mohamed Etyaan. One can see this man at virtually every protest in Cairo. He rarely speaks, simply putting it like : people have many stories about me, but it’s no time for tales. After we have won and justice, peace and our rights have finally prevailed we will sit and share our stories. Everyone who died for the revolution is like my son. Graffitis : The people are the red line. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Ahmed Maher, 31, civil engineer. Founder of the Movement of the 6th of april. Member of Kifaya (It’s enough) movement since its creation in 2004 and of Noor political party in 2005. Graffitis : No SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) – The youth of the 6th of april – Your blood. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.
Rasha El Malah, 24. She’s a member of the Movement of the Revolutionary Socialists. A week ago as she was supporting a protest claiming for compensations for the revolution martyrs on Tahrir square, she got chased by thugs and was bumped by a car. She broke her arm. Graffitis : Revolution continues. Cairo, Egypt, June 2012.

‘2/20’ – Morocco

November 2011 - Morocco
Portraits of activists of the M20 - Movement of the 20th of February - the organisation that gathers all those dissenting the current non-parliamentary monarchy, claiming out for eradicating corruption, nepotism, and asking for greater justice, individual rights, freedom of expression... This movement has set up many protests all along 2011 in the main cities of the kingdom, and had called to boycott the anticipated legislative poll of november 25th, 2011 the king Mohamed VI set to calm down the moroccan street and avoid any propagation of the arab spring.
Graphic inspiration for this series came from the ubiquitous presence of the framed picture of King Mohamed VI in virtually every shop, hotel, train station, and administrative buildings of course. I decided to replace his image with those of the militants, which sounds like a capital offence.
Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress
Myriam Louise, 19, student in pharmacy, activist of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). She describes herself as republican, secular, left-wing and veiled by conviction. In may 2011, she expressed her frustration from the monarchistic system, pleading for letting the youth make what politicians failed to achieve in the last 50 years in a weekly and on a radio. She pointed finger at those socialists who became rich and forgot about the true meaning of socialism. After that, while she was handing out leaflets in the street saying : Ruling is about deserving it, not about inheriting. A policeman came to her and slapped her in the face and insulted her, calling her : a bitch working for the Polisario. December 2011, Casablanca, Morocco.
Houssine Benzaoual, cartoonist and caricaturist since 1986 at Ittihad Al Ichtiraki – the newspaper edited by the political party USFP, socialist – is an activist of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). He left the party when it joined in the monarchistic system, assessing it was becoming a poodle dog of the Mahzen, the king’s government. So Houssine was politically retired until the launch of the M20, which brought a bit of light and hope he says. Smaller picture inside bigger frame : protest of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011) – on december 18th, 2011 in Casablanca, Moroccco.
Protest of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011) – on december 18th, 2011 in Casablanca, Moroccco.
Dalal and Qods Lefnatsa, 24 and 21, two sisters activist of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Dalal is studying graphism, Qods studies applied economy. Their parents are militants of Annahj Addimocrati (The Democratic Voice), the legal offshoot since 1995 of the formerly clandestine MMLM – Moroccan Marxist Leninist Movement – created in 1970, which has gone under heavy and regular crackdowns, which has counted many martyrs and political prisoners. December 2011, Rabat, Morocco.
Hakim Sikouk, 27, teacher of philosophy, fourth generation from a family of many political activists, himself activist and one of the founders of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Member of AMDH – Moroccan Association for Human Rights – and local secretary for the youth department of Annahj Addimocrati (The Democratic Voice), the legal offshoot since 1995 of the formerly clandestine MMLM – Moroccan Marxist Leninist Movement – created in 1970, which has gone under heavy and regular crackdowns, which has counted many martyrs and political prisoners. November 2011, Safi, Morocco.
Halima Lakhdim, 19, student in sociology, activist of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Member of the PPS – Party for Progress and Socialism – of which she has attended meetings since the age of 15. Her wounded arm is from a street assault late at night by what she supposes to be Baltajiyas (the regime’s henchmen). They took away her notebook, and papers related to her activism, insulted her and told : You don’t know anything, you are in Morocco, you are not in the Western world. December 2011, Casablanca, Morocco.
Mouad Belghouat, alias L7A9D (El Haked – The Outraged), an engaged rap singer, has been imprisonned for political reasons from september 09th, 2011 to january 12th, 2012. He quickly became an icon of the protests nationwide organised by the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011).
Moncef El Atifi, 27, economy expert, activist and one of the founders of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Moncef resigned from his job to work full time for the movement. He also split up with his girlfriend to avoid judicial troubles as theu were living together without being married – which is punishable in Morocco – and because his girlfriend’s father is an official region administrator nominated by the king himself… On the protest banner reads : Moroccans wake up ! Moroccans open your eyes !. December 2011, Rabat, Morocco.
Protest of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011) – on november 27th, 2011 in Rabat, Morocco.
Larbi El Manouzi, 47, activist for Human Rights and in the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Larbi’s family is made of many political activists, among whom Houssine El Manouzi, a famous unionist opponent abducted in 1972 by the security services. Nobody ever heard about him again, and his family is still claiming for him or for an explanation at least. December 2011, Casablanca, Morocco.
Ouidade Melhaf, 23, student in broadcasting journalism, activist of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). She soon will have to find a job, in a sector she knows is ruled by heavy censorship, hence she wants to work on the other side with associations or NGOs advocating for a democratisation of the media-related fields. December 2011, Rabat, Morocco.
Ahmed Tefor, 48, French langage teacher, third generation from a family of many political activists, activist himself and local coordinator in Safi of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Member and in charge of communication of AMDH – Moroccan Association for Human Rights – and local secretary of Annahj Addimocrati (The Democratic Voice), the legal offshoot since 1995 of the formerly clandestine MMLM – Moroccan Marxist Leninist Movement – created in 1970, which has gone under heavy and regular crackdowns, which has counted many martyrs and political prisoners. The M20 is creating political consciousness and awareness throughout the country, it may take time, but changes are inevitable, he told. November 2011, Safi, Morocco.
Protest of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011) – on november 27th, 2011 in Rabat, Morocco.
Nejib Chaouki, 32, master’s degree in political economy at Munich University, Germany, journalist, activist and one of the main coordinators of the M20 – Movement of the 20th of February (2011). Back in Morocco in 2007 he opened a blog which raised passionate debates and issues, on which he would post dissident opinions and pro individual rights. He co-founded lakome.com, an alternative and independant news website. November 2011, Rabat, Morocco.

‘3/15’ – Syria

September 2011 - Turkey
Portraits of Syrian refugees in Hatay Province, Turkey, where they have fled by thousands to escape Bachar El Assad's terrible repression, and for some to be able to go on with a daily Internet activism which almost exclusively consists of uploading and publishing amateur videos on Youtube.
Graphic inspiration for this series came from the abundant amateur videos testifying of the atrocities by Al Assad's regime, sometimes unbearable, and at the time almost the sole "proofs" available (see the video 'Syrial Killer' on the page 'Arab Spring').
Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress
Jamil, 35, restaurant manager, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 2 months. He coordinates an Internet cell to upload on Youtube channels amateur videos of Bachar El Assad’s brutal crackdown they get from inside Syria through proxies, cross-border smuggling and any mean that escape surveillance. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 16th, 2011.
Oday, 26, political sciences student, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 3 months. He uploads on Youtube channels amateur videos of Bachar El Assad’s brutal crackdown he gets from inside Syria through proxies, cross-border smuggling and any mean that escape surveillance. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 16th, 2011.
Mohamed, 31, assistant engineer in a steel factory, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 3 months. He is an Internet coordinator for the Syrian Revolution Coordinators Union. His work mostly consists of uploading on Youtube channels amateur videos of Bachar El Assad’s brutal crackdown he gets from inside Syria through proxies, cross-border smuggling and any mean that escape surveillance. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 16th, 2011.
Mohamed, 26, fast-food employee, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 3 months. He carved the name initial of his girlfriend on his arm, whom he had news from only one time since he left the country. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 17th, 2011.
Bassam, 30, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 3 months. His brother was killed by Bachar El Assad’s security forces. He is an Internet cell assistant in refugees camp. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 18th, 2011.
Mossab, 20, dairies seller, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 3 months. He is an Internet cell coordinator in a refugees camp. He just went out to buy a 3G USB key downtown. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 18th, 2011.
Abed, 24, steel structures seller, Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 2 months. He got seriously injured by gunshots in his legs. Then at hospital he was injected by Assad’s thugs with bacterial solution which is slowly destroying his right leg. He gets a treatment at a Turkish hospital but doctors told him his chances of recovery are 10 per cent. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 19th, 2011.
Nazir, 22, student in sports, he wants to become a basket-ball player or a referee. Syrian refugee in Turkey for about 2 months. He is an Internet activity coordinator between the various groups of refugees working in that Turkish region to publish videos on Youtube. Hatay Province, Turkey, September 20th, 2011.

‘2/17’ – Libya

March 2011 - Libya
Portraits taken in Benghazi and near the frontline in Brega. All graffitis and slogans were found on Benghazi walls or inside the media center on the Mahkama square in Benghazi. That naturally led me to the graphic inspiration for this series.
Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress
“Get lost you dog”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“Slaughtering innocents – Freedom – Be patient Gaddafi, you are digging your grave”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“The play is over”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“We don’t want Gaddafi – I have understood, I’m leaving”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“Pray for the martyrs – History by our blood and naked chests”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
It’s enough – Healing our wounds. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“Game over – To hell with the devil – Raus”. Brega, Libya, March 2011.
“Libya, country of freedom”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“Get out animal – Dictator 42 years”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“Gaddafi to hell”. Brega, Libya, March 2011.
“Libya be proud – Libya will be free”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.
“Now I am free human – God’s grace for february 17th martyrs”. Benghazi, Libya, March 2011.

‘1/14’ – Tunisia

January, February 2011 - Tunisia
Portraits of activist dissidents who played their part against dictator Ben Ali through the Internet. Bloggers, hyper-active facebookers, computer engineers, data journalists ...
Graphic inspiration for this series is made of web captures, where I looked for web symbols, codes, twitter and facebook timelines extracts,... I collected visual material on the Internet, a major tool in the Tunisian revolutionary success.
Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress
Amin, 23, graduated in Mathematics and Algebra, co-administrates a facebook page which covers 24/7 whatever happens related to the january 14 revolution. Tunis, january 30, 2011.
Mohamed, 23, who has studied literature, interior design, economy, computer technology, he tried it all, co-administrates a facebook page which covers 24/7 whatever happens related to the january 14 revolution. He was personally connected to The Anonymous community. Tunis, january 30, 2011.
Lina Ben Mhenni, 27, an active blogging girl who was well followed on the internet, before and during the revolution. She also published through Global Voices network. Tunis, february 01, 2011.
Hana, 21, student in journalism, is an active blogging girl of the revolution. Tunis, february 01, 2011.
Yassine Ayari, 29, had gone into exile in Belgium after he co-organised an anti-censorship campaign in may 2010. He came back in the country after Ben Ali’s fall, eager to continue to inform on the internet but adding then the field work, and publishing a lot of videos on a twitvid account. Meknassy, february 02, 2011.
Ahmed Chebil, 30, got his first PC at the age of 4, and self-taught computing and information technology. From the very beginning of Internet in Tunisia (1990’s) he got connected with the underground cyber community. He was actively forwarding and sharing information before and during the revolution. He runs a consulting and websites conception company. Tunis, february 07, 2011.
Slim Amamou, 33, consulting and corporate web solutions programming. He has become the most famous icon of the cybernetic tunisian revolution, after he was arrested and interrogated for 5 days at the Ministry of Interior, charged with cyber activism. He got released on january 13 along with Aziz Amami, a fellow cyber activist. On january 17 he accepted to take an official job as Secretary of State for the Youth and Sports Ministry in the transition government. Tunis, february 08, 2011.
Chihem Ben Nasr, father of 3 and wholesaler of cosmetic and cleaning agents, has run a dissident blog for many years, which was censored a few months before Ben Ali’s fall. He’s been alltime very connected to Tunis cyber activist community, and still follows a great amount of facebook and twitter accounts. South Tunisia, Douz, february 04, 2011. // important : this picture is the result of a photomontage.
Aziz Amami, 27, computer geek, writer, poet, and a constant revolutionary, was arrested and interrogated along with iconic Slim Amamou at the Ministry of Interior, and released on january 13, 2011. Tunis, february 08, 2011. // important : this picture is the result of a photomontage.
Emna Ben Jemna, 33, university marketing teacher. She created a blog in 2005 writing anonymously, partly because of her own family pressure, on political and personal subjects. She was arrested and intimidated at the Minsitry of Interior in 2010. Since 2006 she has started working as a journalist for magazines then now for Express FM radio on which she has a column on what’s going on on the internet. Tunis, April 2011. // important : this picture is the result of a photomontage.

Press review

Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress

courrier international

2011_Liberation_HS_Coleres_01

2011_Liberation_HS_Coleres_02

2011_Tageszeitung_Coleres

2012_AIF_Chronique_Coleres

2012_Internazionale_Coleres_01

2012_Internazionale_Coleres_02

2012_Internazionale_Coleres_03

2012_L’ILLUSTRE_Coleres

2012_La_Croix_Coleres_Visa

2012_Liberation_Coleres_20120810

2012_NEWSWEEK_Coleres_01

2012_NEWSWEEK_Coleres_02

courrier international

5 Comments on “Freedom Fighters – Arab spring”

  1. Thank you Omar. I’ll do it !! when I can sneak in or simply enter the country… in the meantime a new series is coming up shortly, made with some Syrian refugees on Turkish side.

  2. Pingback: Portraits des révolutionnaires arabes du Web « EastWestWestEast

  3. Pingback: Breaking News in Revolutionary Art: Johann Rousselot’s “Freedom Fighter” series « A Revolution in Fiction

Leave a comment

Scroll Up