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Prize celebrates top Egyptian photojournalism of 2015

The Shawkan Photo Award is named after an Egyptian photojournalist who has been detained without trial for over two years
The winning photo captured the moments after a left-wing activist and poet was shot by security forces during a peaceful march (Facebook / Islam Osamah)

A new prize celebrating the best of Egyptian photojournalism announced its five picks of the year on Wednesday.

The Shawkan Photo Awards, which is in its first year, awarded the five top prizes to a range of striking photos documenting the deaths of protesters during violent demonstrations, the funeral of an army colonel and celebrations by hardcore football fans.

The prize is named after Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, who is popularly known by his nickname Shawkan.

A prominent press photographer, Shawkan has spent more than two years in pre-trial detention after being arrested while taking photos of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa protest in August 2013.

Shawkan has contracted Hepatitis C during his time in detention, and in a letter smuggled out of the notorious Torah Prison earlier this year described being beaten "over and over again".

This week a group of 48 journalists signed an open letter addressed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calling for the release of Shawkan and at least 22 other jailed journalists, who the Committee to Protect Journalists says are imprisoned as a direct result of their work.

Signatories to the letter include the BBC's Orla Guerin, the Guardian's Patrick Kingsley and Peter Greste, an Al-Jazeera journalist who spent over a year in an Egyptian prison on charges that he aided the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The prize is organised by Shawkan's supporters, who run a website and say they hope the prize will draw attention to Shawkan's ongoing detention.

The judging panel was composed of five top Egyptian journalists and photojournalists including Hossam Diyab, who works for the state-owned daily al-Ahram, and Khalid Desouki, head of AFP's Cairo office.

From a long-list of over 25 photos, judges selected four runners-up and one overall winner.

The judges all picked the same winner: a photo by Islam Osama of the killing of activist Shaimaa Sabbagh in January.

The snapshot, which captured the moment a fellow protester caught Sabbagh as she fell to the ground after being shot by the security forces during a peaceful demonstration, became an iconic image in 2015.

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