In January 2016 the movie “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” came out, and in May 2016 my friend renown street artist and publisher Don Stone messaged me asking if the makers of the movie “13 Hours” have my permission to use my artwork “كن مع الثورة”* in the movie. I was shocked because no I did not give anyone any permission to use my artwork in any form recently -despite the fact that that artwork had a long history of being used commercially without my permission for years back in 2011 and till this day-.
Once I had my hand on a copy of the movie I was able to get a screenshot** of the scene where the artwork was used as a sprayed stencil on a wall in Benghazi and after watching the movie in its entirety , I have serious misgivings about the unlawful use of my artwork- not only for copyright reasons but also for ideological and ethical reasons which I will enumerate below:
- The artwork was used in a scene where the “terrorists/ISIS” were attacking the American base in a way that gave me the feeling that they are using the artwork to symbolize the attacker terrorist/ISIS group and that is terrible framing for the artwork which has a long relationship with the uprising in Egypt and many other countries in the region
- The film encapsulates much which I find disturbing about mainstream Hollywood depictions of the region- I would even go so far as to dub it Neo-Imperialist propaganda which I do not want my art-work associated with.
- The 50,000,000 USD budget did not care about violating my rights not even by doing a little googling to investigate who was the behind the artwork in order to approach me for my permission.
The artwork “كن مع الثورة”*** has great historical value and meaning to me and many others who saw it as the icon for the uprising and revolutions in the region -which the Western media dubbed the “Arab spring”- and violating it in this way really gets to me on a personal level.
I designed the emblem “كن مع الثورة” back in 2008 which is something majority of the people don’t realize, the emblem is based on a historical piece that used to say “كن مع الله/be with allah” which is familiar to find on trucks and the concept for me was to replace “الله/allah/god” with “revolution” believing that this was more of a pro-active position that depending on the mercy of God.
Back then I didn’t think that 3 years later the artwork would spread the way it did in 2011 by the revolution time the emblem was everywhere from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, London, Berlin.. It went everywhere and people thought of it as the visual icon that represents the only option we all have at the moment which is “to be with the revolution”.
To find out that 5 years later from the beginning of the uprising an American propaganda movie is framing the artwork as icon of “isis/terrorists” that is awful and unacceptable by any means.
I’m announcing that I reserve my right to sue the production companies, the director and every one responsible for the unlawful use of my artwork without my permission and responsible of framing it in this terrible way as the logo for a terrorist group.
To everyone who shared the artwork from 2008 till today, to everyone this artwork meant something to, please share this announcement around, let everyone read it, and know that I do not accept what was done to the artwork neither to be used in an american propaganda movie nor to be framed as the logo for a terroristic group not the revolutionaries in the streets.
*The artwork is registered in the united states and covered under the US copyright law with a certificate that can prove that.