Bassel Khartabil

Bassel Khartabil Fellowship Opens 2019 Call for Proposals with Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons

Individuals and Teams Eligible for 1 Year 50,000 USD Fellowship

Individuals and Teams Eligible for 1 Year 50,000 USD Fellowship



Saint Louis — September 3rd, 2019 — Today Fabricatorz Foundation is pleased to invite applications to the second annual Bassel Khartabil Fellowship, honoring the legacy of beloved artist, open source technology innovator, and free culture advocate Bassel Khartabil. This prestigious fellowship supports outstanding individuals or teams developing free culture in their communities under adverse circumstances with financial stability and mentorship. The Fellowship is organized by Fabricatorz Foundation with support from Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons, along with partnership from Khartabil’s final projects: Nophotozone and #NEWPALMYRA. Full Fellowship details and a submission form are available at

“Bassel Khartabil gave the gift of code not just to the Mozilla community, but to the world,” said Sarah Watson, Executive Program Manager with the Mozilla Foundation. “While he is not with us physically, his digital presence lives on. Mozilla Foundation’s support of the Bassel Khartabil Fellowship helps to ensure those who follow in his footsteps will be lifted up to continue the fight for a healthy, open internet.”

Fellowship applications will be accepted on, or by email at [email protected], through September 28th. The Fellow will be selected by a jury of free culture community luminaries, and presented at the 10th anniversary Mozilla Festival, from October 21-27 in London. Throughout their one-year term, the chosen Fellow will receive a stipend of $50,000 USD, mentorship from affiliate organizations, skill development, project promotion, and fundraising support from the partner network, as well as other benefits.

“Bassel Khartabil was not only a dear friend, but also a fearless advocate for free culture who showed us all what a true commitment to the betterment of humanity looked like,” said Barry Threw, Executive Director of Fabricatorz Foundation. “His work could not have succeeded without the friendship of a global community. With supporters like Mozilla Foundation and Creative Commons, we can make sure the next generation can advance the values core to Bassel’s life.”

The inaugural 2018-2019 Bassel Khartabil Fellowship was awarded to Majd Al-shihabi, a Palestinian-Syrian engineer and urban planning graduate based in Beirut, Lebanon. The Fellowship supported his work on two projects advancing visions for re-building and moving Palestinian and Syrian societies towards an open, fair, and free future: the MASRAD Oral History Archives platform, and Palestine Open Maps. These projects captured the current intangible cultural heritage of Syria through contemporary accounts, and decolonized the history of Palestine by digitizing, releasing, and improving the accessibility of previously forgotten 1940s British Mandate-era public domain maps. He was selected from over 100 applicants submitting from 38 countries.

Majd Al-shihabi said of the program, “With the support of the Fellowship, I was able to run fourteen mapathons, using archival maps to deeply engage hundreds of people in a new understanding of Palestine and the Nakba. It gave me the freedom to initiate projects that I have been thinking about for a long time, and the opportunity to contribute to the open source community in more direct ways.”

Fellows are expected to lead projects or initiatives that will catalyze free culture, particularly in societies vulnerable to attacks on freedom of expression and free access to knowledge. Special consideration will be given to applicants operating within closed societies and in developing economies where other forms of support are scarce, but all interested applicants are encouraged to apply.

The inaugural Bassel Khartabil Fellowship was developed with Creative Commons, Mozilla, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Jimmy Wales Foundation, #NEWPALMYRA, and others, as part of a three-year commitment to promote the values important to Bassel’s work and life: open culture, radical sharing, free knowledge, remix, collaboration, courage, optimism, and humanity.

  • Applications can be submitted on until September 20th
  • The Fellowship application consists of a vision statement, bio, resume, and preliminary budget
  • Applicants are encourage from all over the world, at any stage of their career
  • The Fellow will be selected by a jury of free culture community luminaries from partner organizations
  • The Fellow will be presented at Mozilla Festival, from October 21-27 in London
  • The Fellowship is a one-year commitment, and includes a stipend of $50,000 USD, health insurance supplement, a supplement for equipment and research fees, and coverage for approved travel
  • Full information is available at

“All over the world there are unsung heroes and heroines bridging technology and culture to improve the world,” said Mohamed Nanabhay, Board Member of Mozilla Corporation and former Board Member of Global Voices. “The Bassel Khartabil Fellowship seeks out and raises up those who, like Bassel himself, are doing the hard everyday work of building culture in their communities. Mozilla and our Foundation are proud to amplify the efforts of these individuals, and provide the mentorship and support needed to take their projects to the next level.”

About Bassel Khartabil

Bassel Khartabil was the technology innovator who opened the Internet in the Arab World through Open Source Software and Open Hardware. He was a notable filmmaker, author, and artist whose works are being discovered anew after his disappearance and extrajudicial execution in 2015.

Khartabil was a relentless advocate for free speech, free culture, and democracy. He was the cofounder of Syria’s first hackerspace, Aiki Lab, Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, and a prolific open source contributor, from Firefox to Wikipedia. Bassel’s final project, relaunched as #NEWPALMYRA, entailed building free and open 3D models of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. In his work as a computer engineer, educator, artist, musician, cultural heritage researcher, and thought leader, Bassel modeled a more open world, impacting lives globally.

Bassel was taken from the streets in March of 2012 in a military arrest and interrogated and tortured in secret in a facility controlled by Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate. After a worldwide campaign by international human rights groups, together with Bassel’s many colleagues in the open internet and free culture communities, he was moved to Adra’s civilian prison, where he was able to communicate with his family and friends. His detention was ruled unlawful by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and condemned by international organizations such as Creative Commons, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Jimmy Wales Foundation.

Despite the international outrage at his treatment and calls for his release, in October of 2015 he was moved to an undisclosed location and executed shortly thereafter — a fact that was kept secret by the Syrian regime for nearly two years.

About Fabricatorz Foundation

Fabricatorz Foundation is a non-profit supporting creative technologists and emerging cultural practitioners with community-focused initiatives that create energy transformation through art, technology, and culture. Based in St. Louis, Fabricatorz Foundation fosters community impact through local/global cultural exchange, events, education, and project incubation. It is the sponsor organization of #NEWPALMYRA, Qi Hardware, the Fashion Freedom Initiative, and the Bassel Khartabil Fellowship.

About Mozilla Foundation

Established in 2003, guided by the Mozilla Manifesto, the Mozilla Foundation believes the Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible to all. The direct work of the Mozilla Foundation focuses on fueling the movement for a healthy internet. It supports a diverse group of fellows working on key internet issues, connects open Internet leaders at events like MozFest, publishes critical research in the Internet Health Report, and rallies citizens around advocacy issues that connect the wellbeing of the Internet directly to everyday life. The Foundation is also the sole shareholder in the Mozilla Corporation, the maker of Firefox and other open source tools.

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a globally-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to making it easier for people to share their creative works, and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. Creative Commons provides free licenses and other legal tools to give individuals and organizations a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative work, ensure proper attribution, and allow others to copy, distribute, and make use of those works. Creative Commons supports the CC Global Network, a community initiative working to increase the volume and breadth of openly-available content and resources worldwide. The organization also runs a technology program focused on making openly-licensed material easier to discover and use, as well as a certification program designed for individuals interested in becoming experts in creating and engaging with openly-licensed works. Additionally, CC hosts an annual global summit, which brings together an international group of educators, artists, technologists, legal experts, and activists to promote the power of openness.


#NEWPALMYRA is an online community platform dedicated toward the virtual reconstruction and creative reuse of the endangered cultural heritage of Palmyra, Syria. The project was conceived of by Bassel Khartabil during his internment in Adra prison camp, near Damascus Syria, and is carried on by his friends and supporters.

About Nophotozone

NOPHOTOZONE is a non-governmental organization that seeks to promote legal awareness, human rights and knowledge, related to cases of detention and enforced disappearances in Syria. The project was co-conceived of by Bassel Khartabil along with International Human Rights lawyer Noura Ghazi, who continues to lead it with many supporters.

Press Contact

Bassel Khartabil Fellowship PRESS [email protected]



20 August 2019

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