"As we can't protest as free citizens, we'll protest as free holograms."
Spain’s government has approved a new law, the ley de seguridad ciudadana (citizen safety law), to go into effect on July 1. The law, nicknamed ley mordaza or gag law (link in Spanish), significantly restricts people's rights to protest, introducing fines up to €30,000 ($A41, 900) for infringements such as taking pictures of police, peacefully protesting a public authority, or gathering in protest in front of the congress building.
The law, which one political opponent of the ruling popular party called "the worst cut of rights and freedoms since the Franco regime," is strongly opposed by the public, with a reported 82 per cent Spanish of citizens (link in Spanish) wanting it repealed. Protests followed its initial approval in the lower house in December, and the one this Friday drew almost 18,000 people from all over the world to the streets in Madrid.
Except, unlike previous protests, no one was physically there.
The entire protest—in a powerful and ironic commentary against the law—was carried out by holograms.
Organised by Hologramas por la Liberdad and No Somos Delito the hologram protest is a way to underline the law's limitation of freedom of expression. A video on the organisation's site encourages people to leave messages or videos of themselves (converted into holograms) as a way to feel free to protest despite the law.
This was the first hologram protest ever organised, and the images of the protest, which circulated on the web and were shared on Twitter with the hashtag #10AHologramasLibre are haunting and powerful.