Photographer decries doctored image of Gaza protest

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: flickr/Evan

In 2012, photographer Sulejman Omerbasic was in Bosnia at a rally to support Gaza. He took a photo of a demonstrator -- a woman holding signs reading "Stop Israeli Terrorism" and "Free Gaza."

Two years later, his photo circulates on the internet with a different message. The sign held by the protestor has been altered to read "Stop Hamas Terrorism on Israel" and "Free Gaza from Hamas."

Omerbasic was not pleased to discover that the photo he took at the rally for Gaza in Bosnia had been doctored.

"I am not happy at all with content being manipulated on my image on important issue such as protest for Gaza," said Omerbasic.

"Truth" is the most important thing about images, he added.

To Omerbasic's dismay, the altered photograph was circulated widely across the world during Israel's attack on Gaza in July 2014.

A website called the Jewish Journal refered to the doctored image on July 27 in an article titled "When Anti-Semitism Strikes Science and Medicine"

The article states:

"A few days ago we saw a photo in one of the social networks in which a Muslim protestor somewhere in Europe holds two signs. One saying "Stop Hamas terrorism on Israel", the other "Free Gaza from Hamas". This says it all. But how did we even get here, to a third round of fighting with Hamas?"  

A facebook account Or Mossaiov also shared the altered photograph, and from there, the image was shared over 5,000 times. Mossaiov did not respond to several interview requests. 

On July 15, the Israel Awareness Committee (IAC), a group part of Hillel Ottawa shared the image on Facebook but recently removed it. The IAC also did not respond to an interview request.

Photographic images are no longer difficult to manipulate, but photographers and photography services do their best to protect the integrity of journalistic images.

Omerbasic's photo was watermarked with Demotix.com, the name of the distribution agency where the original photo can be found. The company is aware that with the right amount of determination, its photos can be altered, but applies a digital watermark to its images to discourage would-be photoshoppers.

"Every submission to Demotix has a watermark digitally applied. While this doesn't stop someone who is determined to infringe copyright law by illegally using pictures; a digital watermark is the best that most picture agencies can do,"  said Demotix newsdesk and assignments manager Ossie Ikeogu.

People interested in reporting truth must condemn the misrepresentation of the news, Ikeogu added.

"This is a very rare occurrence," he noted, "I would say that people often mock up pictures for political purposes, usually for humorous effect but in this instance it appears to be an attempt to misrepresent a news event."

Omerbasic's photo is not the only image with the "Free Gaza from Hamas" slogan t-shirts and baseball caps with the same message are widely available.

The altered photo has led to speculation about the origin of the change.

"I am wondering," says Carleton University professor of sociology Nahla Abdo, "If this photo was constructed as part of the Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) attempt at distorting the Palestinian resistance turning the victims of its occupation into villains."

"Anyone watching the demonstrations in Gaza during the invasion would have seen and felt the support the women, men and children had given to the resistance" she added, "Hamas for all the Palestinians during the past Israeli assault was just a part and parcel of the resistance to Israeli occupation and colonialism."

Miriam Katawazi is a fourth-year journalism and human rights student at Carleton University and has just completed her summer as rabble's news intern. She is passionate about human rights and social justice in Canada and across the world. Her writing focuses on health, labour, education and human rights beats.

Photo: flickr/Evan  

 

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.