During the closing session of the new media workshop I led recently in Alexandria, Egypt, practically everybody paid tribute to Shahinaz Abdelsalam, better known in the blogosphere as Wahda Masrya – an Egyptian Girl. The lone Alexandria native and one of the few experienced bloggers among the group, Shahinaz became for most of the participants a symbol of courage and deep commitment to the cause of human rights and of freedom expression.
As Delphine Nerbollier tells us in her interview (Fr) with Shahinaz on the NewsLab blog, Shahinaz broke with family tradition and left her native city in 2005, and now leads an independent life in Cairo. At 29 years old, she works as an telecommunications engineer with Orange, a job which, for her, raises a number of ethical questions. “Orange moved to this country to so they could pay engineers lower salaries, and I'm against that sort of thing,” she says. “But you still have to live, don't you?” Unlike the majority of Muslim women in Egypt, Shahinaz has never worn a headscarf or veil, and has no plans to do so in the future.
In this special edition of the Global Voices Show, Shahinaz talks about her own reasons for blogging; the risks faced by Egyptian bloggers who dare criticise the authorities; her friend, the imprisoned blogger Kareem Amer (whom she encouraged us all to write by giving us self-addressed stamped envelopes); and the activist blogging scene in Egypt.