From the Polisario to the Holocaust, the journey of freemason activist Oliver Bienkowski

Criticized on social media and accused of spreading «Israeli propaganda», German activist Oliver Bienkowski reacted, Wednesday, to the angry voices that followed the demolition of his holocaust memorial. Yabiladi tracks down the campaigns of this freemason activist and his fights for Muslims and Jews and against the Polisario Front.

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A campaign against the Polisario Front by PixelHelper in Germany. / Ph. DW

During the last couple of days, the work of German non-governmental association PixelHelper in Morocco, most precisely in a commune near Marrakech, made headlines. Everybody was speaking about the Ait Faska’s Holocaust memorial and the reasons behind the project.

The founder of the NGO, Oliver Bienkowski, who has been running the project since September 2018, told Yabiladi, Friday, that the installation is a way of remembering and honoring the Jews who died in Europe’s concentration camps.

German activist and light artist Oliver Bienkowski. / Ph. PixelHelperGerman activist and light artist Oliver Bienkowski. / Ph. PixelHelper

The activist said that the property his company «PixelHelper International SARL» owns in the commune also includes a replica of the European border, a tower, a bakery and several other installations. Days later, most of these buildings were demolished by the local authorities, which said in a communiqué issued Monday, that the owner did not have the required permits.

Several other reactions followed the decision. On Tuesday, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) accused the German NGO in a press release of «spreading propaganda» through its installations and «exploiting locals' poverty», referring to «Zionism and Israel». Meanwhile, Moroccan anti-normalizers and Salafists took to social media to condemn the construction of PixelHelper’s «Holocaust memorial».

An interactive software for minorities

However, to Bienkowski, this is just a big misunderstanding. The Guerilla-artist told Yabiladi, Wednesday, that «Moroccans did not understand his project». Disappointed by the voices that linked his work to Israel and «Zionist propaganda», the Kassel-native stressed that his organization «has nothing to do with that».

«I am not a Jew, I have never visited Israel», he argued, insisting that his memorial and the other projects on the Ait Faska’s property «are works of art».

The activist then thoroughly explained what his Morocco project is about. In fact, Bienkowski said that the Ait Faska property was not just about the Jews : It is a platform that includes six projects that people can track through a live streaming software he developed.

«It is an interactive software that allows you to watch (the works) and decide what we can do next», he said, adding that installations were also there to honor Uyghurs, a Muslim minority in China, the Palestinians, migrants and Jews from the concentration camps.

In fact, it is not the first time that this German activist talks about this interactive software. In 2015, Bienkowski spoke at the TEDxMarrakech about this project. «Bienkowski left all in Germany and decided to start another path, hoping to change the life of millions of people around the world with his Pixelhelper Project (…) the first interstellar humanitarian live-help platform», TEDx Marrakech wrote.

And so it was. The Ait Faska property had 20 cameras capturing the multiple works constructed by the activist and his team. In the photos published on his Facebook page and the PixelHelper website, one can spot graffiti works referring to Uyghur and others honoring the works of anonymous England-based street artist and political activist Banksy.

On the phone, Bienkowski referred to some of his other works and campaigns that «defended minorities» and several causes in several parts of the world.

A light artist and his political projections

That was the case for the social entrepreneur and his organization in Germany too. In fact, the art projections of Bienkowski in Berlin made headlines in 2016, when he targeted several embassies. In May 2016, DW reported that PixelHelper and its founder «bathed the Saudi Embassy in projected messages of protest». The activist projected an ISIS flag on the Saudi embassy in Berlin with words saying : «Daesh Bank».

During the same month, the NGO did the same, projecting a photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wearing a Nazi armband and an Adolf Hitler-style moustache to protest against the arrest of two journalists in Turkey, the Independent reported.

That was not the only cause Bienkowski’s NGO was defending. In 2014, the PixelHelper activists «projected a comical image of President Obama and the words 'NSA in da House' on the walls of the US Embassy in Berlin». The projection referred to reports on the alleged spying of the National Security Agency and espionage activities.

His projections also targeted the European Central Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt in 2015, according to several media.

A freemason activist and his campaign against the Polisario

In addition to its activities in Germany, PixelHelper identifies itself as «an international non-profit minority & human rights organization inspired by the ideals of the Freemasons». On its website, it is, moreover, indicated that the NGO’s founder is a «freemason» who has «70 fellow campaigners, including 6 others», who are also freemasons.

And as surprising as it may seem, one of the recent campaigns of the German activist and his NGO was, in fact, in favor of the Moroccan stance in the Sahara question. PixelHelper led, in April 2019, a campaign against South Africa, the Hezbollah and the «Polisario terrorists».

Indeed, according to an article published by Sahara-question, the German NGO projected images on the embassies of South Africa and Slovakia in Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate to protest against the support of Iran and South Africa to «terrorism through Polisario and Hezbollah».

PixelHelper was then described as a «creative organization that fights against social injustice through a global network of activists and artists using unusual and innovative means».

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