‘Anti-ISIS campaign’: Light artists of ‘Daesh bank’ protest to fight terror backers & propaganda
The non-profit group PixelHELPER, which stands for “freedom, equality and brotherhood,” has no other intention than to “literally shine a light on humanitarian problems worldwide to help those in need,” the group told RT in a statement.
“We find that many issues are mentioned in the media, but the public has a short attention span. We want to make sure that these issues do not fall into the background and forgotten,” it said.
PixelHELPER’s latest installation focused on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), and particularly on the countries the activists believe have been funding the terrorist network, and are thus responsible for the refugee crisis gripping the EU. On Friday, the group projected an IS flag with a caption reading “Daesh Bank” on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Berlin.
“With the arrival of so many refugees to Europe in general and Germany in particular, we felt it was the perfect time to remind the media and the public that these refugees are fleeing ISIS, and that countries such as Saudi Arabia are funding these terrorists,” PixelHELPER said.
RT spoke to Oliver Bienkowski, one of the group’s light artists, who said they have not yet been contacted by Saudi or German authorities in connection with their protest.
However, PixelHELPER activists do not intend to stop at just one-off events. On the contrary, they plan to expand their activities into a wider campaign against Islamic State.
The group revealed that their planned campaign is in part fueled by disillusioned IS fighters who share their stories about how the extremists really live and what kind of religion they preach.
“Several ISIS fighters have contacted PixelHELPER to say that they are extremely disappointed with the lifestyle and religious beliefs they have encountered within ISIS and wish to separate themselves from these terrorists,” it said.
Activists want to reach out to more disenchanted militants, encouraging and uniting those “who want to leave.” They hope the campaign will create a ripple effect within the terror group by means of “anti-ISIS propaganda.” The defectors could be “extremely valuable in providing insider information about Islamic State,” PixelHELPER says.
PixelHELPER activists have been calling for German military exports to “dictatorships and authoritarian regimes” in the Persian Gulf to be stopped, projecting “Thanks no tanks to Saudi Arabia” on the Federal Chancellery and Saudi Arabian embassy in Berlin.
In a separate act, they decorated the Turkish embassy with a pair of images showing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Adolf Hilter, in which the two look very much alike.
Another installation on the building of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic mission referred to blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 slashes for criticizing the government in his online blog in 2012. The case stirred international uproar and concern for Badawi’s health, who received his first 50 lashes in January of last year. A follow-up medical exam showed that he could not take any more.
PixelHELPER’s main goal is to push cases such as Badawi’s into spotlight.
“It is easy for people to become complacent about such issues, and we want to fight against this complacency. Germany is in a unique position. Our history requires that we take an active stance against human rights violations in the world today. Also, today we are a prosperous nation, and we must use that privilege in the best way possible – to help those in need,” the activists believe.
Noting that the use of controversial light art has been “effective” both in spreading their message on social media and in terms of its low cost, the activists said they hope to bolster support for a pan-European movement of like-minded protesters, in which they could reveal even more “new and creative ways to further make a difference.”
The PixelHELPER activists rely on Germany’s freedom of speech laws, which they believe ensure immunity against possible retribution. Their projections are not causing any actual damage to the buildings, either.
Freedom of speech, however, did not save German comedian Jan Boehmermann from legal action after he recited a satirical poem about Turkey’s Erdogan, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel found “deliberately insulting.” Boehmermann’s prosecution under the paragraph 103 of the German penal code, which forbids insulting official institutions and representatives of foreign states, has officially been requested by Ankara and was given the green light by Merkel. The ongoing probe has caused an uproar in Europe, with supporters demanding that the comic’s freedoms be protected and critics and copycats lashing out at Erdogan. The UK’s Spectator magazine went as far as to offer £1,000 (about US$1,400) donated by a reader to the person who could pen the most offensive poem about Erdogan.