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Tahrir Square, City of Westminster, England.

October 26, 2011

Some clever person at the Occupy London protests posted this sign, designed to look like an authentic British street sign.

When I first saw this sign posted to Facebook, my reaction was: That’s cool. That’s totally awesome.

It was another case of people in the West indexing their own protests to the uprising in Egypt, like others I’ve blogged about here and here and here. And done in a particularly well-executed and subversive, playful way.

A forthcoming graphic novel about the Egyptian uprising.

I first saw it on Facebook, posted by 18DaysNovel, a page dedicated to a forthcoming graphic novel written by Ramy Habeeb and illustrated by A.S. Saleem,  about the impact of the Tahrir uprising on the lives of an Egyptian man and woman.

Then I reconsidered. Maybe the sign wan’t real. Maybe it was just photoshopped.

I queried the original poster, 18DaysNovel, and he referred me to an article entitled “Star Books: Occupy London Protest Inspires Improvised Library” by Roger Tagholm. It’s an interesting article about a young protester who has started a lending library within the occupation community, calling it “Star Books” and using a parody of the Starbucks logo. The photo appears as an illustration in the story with the caption “Tahrir Comes to Westminster” but offers no further information.

A short Google search later, I located a CNBC Europe article entitled “Occupy Movement Hits London” posted to the web site of CBI Voice of Business (a pro-business lobbying group). This story ran the photo and mentioned it in the body of the story, thus:

One protester managed to post a sign near Paternoster that replicated a typical London street sign and declared: “Tahrir Square, City of Westminster.”

Tahrir Square refers to the location of protests, many of them violent, that took place in Cairo, Egypt, earlier this year. The uprising, part of the so-called Arab Spring, eventually resulted in the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign.

The article emphasizes the links those in the “Occupy the London Stock Exchange” movement  make to similar protests around the world, sparked by growing dissatisfaction with how their governments are handling the global economic crisis.

The question now is, do I trust CNBC? One of the things that is increasingly happening in the world of journalism is stories being cobbled together from multiple on-line sources and phone calls rather than actual reporting. So did someone actually go down and see this for themselves or did they rely of what they were given? I am especially curious in the absence of a reporter’s by-line. “CNBC Europe Staff” is exactly the kind of byline we would have put on a cobbled-together article backin my days as a journalist.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2011 4:14 am

    mark, as i said when i posted this photo on Facebook, i found a similar image on flickr–it’s not photoshopped: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63169691@N06/6253897417/ –the comment attached included this: “Although it’s worth pointing out that this area of London is actually in the City of London and not the City of Westminster”– and is in a photo set of other photos of the occupation around St. Paul’s Cathedral.

    • MPeterson permalink
      November 17, 2011 11:56 pm

      Thanks, Robin. When in doubt, turn to a librarian!

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