Late last year, Egyptian authorities arrested and detained Al Jazeera journalists — including Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy. The journalists have been accused of endangering Egyptian national security and publishing stories in service of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Egyptian political party of former president Mohamed Morsi. More than three months later, those journalists are still in detention.
Today, Al Jazeera is instigating a day of action around the world to call attention to the plight of the detainees and to help garner international support to help free them.
The #FreeAJStaff hashtag, which has quickly spread around the world, was started by journalists in Nairobi, where one of the detainees, Peter Greste, was based. The campaign calls for journalists to take pictures of themselves with their mouths taped, holding up the #FreeAJStaff sign in a show of solidarity.
"We are calling on all journalists and supporters of freedom to stage vigils in front of Egyptian embassies all over the world," Ghassan Abu Hussein, international relations manager at Al Jazeera, said in a news conference in Doha.
The day of action will include events in at least 30 cities worldwide, including London, Nairobi, Beirut, Kabul, Doha, Ankara, Johannesburg, Sydney, Washington, San Francisco and Berlin. You can see some of these in the gallery above.
In Canada, events are being held at noon in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square and in front of Montreal's Egyptian Consulate (1000 de la Gauchetière St. W.).
On February 6, Al Jazeera English and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression held a press conference in Toronto, in which prominent Canadian journalists sought to raise awareness about the plight of their colleagues. The news organization has been calling on increased action from international governments in hopes of getting the detainees released. Strombo.com spoke to a few of the participants, who reiterated the value of freedom of the press around the world and decried what they called Canada's relative lack of diplomatic action on this issue so far.
If you can't make it to one of the vigils, you can get involved by signing an online petition here, or by tweeting a picture of yourself with the hashtag #FreeAJStaff.