In an addition to our usual monthly podcast, we have some special audio for you from the newly concluded 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia.
Nearly 100 bloggers from Arab countries gathered in Tunis from October 3-6, 2011 in a meeting hosted by Global Voices, Nawaat and the Heinrich Böll Foundation to discuss citizen media, safety online, post-revolutionary ideas, and of course to meet each other face to face – some for the first time. In the 12 interviews in these two podcasts (check out Part 2) you will hear about online anonymity using Tor, revolution in a historical context, forthcoming elections in Arab countries, filmmaking, blogging and hope. And much, much more.
Arab Bloggers Meeting, 2011: Part 1
Naturally the topic of Arab uprisings was a big part of the conversation. The role of the citizen journalist has been very important in describing events to a wider audience. I chatted with Egyptian blogger and Global Voices author Lilian Wagdy, about why the benefits outweigh the challenges of this difficult work.
Online activists and bloggers travelled from near and far to come to the meeting. Yazan Badran is a Syrian blogger and Global Voices author currently based in Japan. He told us what motivated him to travel the distance to be at the meeting.
Though the past uprisings are a constant topic of conversation, the Arab Bloggers meeting this year was a forum for pushing things onward. Nasser Weddady, a blogger from Mauritania, is also the Civil Rights Outreach Director for the American Islamic Congress based in Boston, USA. We talked about the main issues of the day.
A number of talks and presentations during the meeting shed light on current events as well as providing training and new ideas. Marek Tuszynski, co-founder and co-director of Tactical Technology Collective gave a presentation about clear visualisation for online activists.
Many participants attended previous Arab Bloggers Meetings. With Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression Electronic Frontier Foundation in the United States (as well as Global Voices author and board member), we talked about her experience and why the EFF takes an interest in international freedom of expression.
In the conversation with Jillian, we talked about how Palestinian bloggers were denied visas by the Tunisian government to attend the meeting. Aternative methods were used to contact these bloggers and include them in the meeting. One blogger of Palestinian origin was there. I spoke to Saed Karzoun about the visa debacle, and what he hoped to bring to the event.
The location of the Arab Bloggers meeting in Tunis was highly relevant to the main topics discussed. Tunisia has seen a revolution and inspired many other movements in the region. Malek Khadraoui is the co-administrator of Tunisian website Naawat, an independent group blog. We chatted about how the network of bloggers across Arab nations offers both hope and valuable practical advice.
There were so many experienced, entertaining, knowledgeable and wonderful people at the Arab Bloggers Meeting, I could not fit them all into one edition of the Global Voices podcast. You can hear more of these great interviews in Part 2.
Thanks to everyone who took time to talk to me, to the organisers for creating such a fantastic forum, and to Mark Cotton who adapted our Global Voices theme tunes for this particular episode.