A year ago in Tahrir Square

The time difference meant that when I woke up on Friday January 28th of last year, Tahrir was already ablaze. I remember waking up that day and immediately reading the news. Watching the events unfold threw me in an emotional roller coaster that did not end for weeks.

I spent that day glued to my laptop, shifting from watching different news channels, to getting more news from mainstream media sites, Facebook and Twitter. I vaguely remember not eating that day. I knew that Egyptians had taken to the streets since January 25th, I had even received Facebook invites for that day. I saw the masses of people chanting for Mubarak to leave. But nothing would prepare me for that Friday when things took a very violent turn, generating shock waves across Egypt and the World.

In the following days, I put aside my thesis and spent almost every waking hour following the news. I even made it through NYC’s snow and cold to the rallies that the Egyptian community had organized. I went to every possible talk On-Campus, Off-Campus, Uptown, Downtown that discussed Egypt and the ‘Arab Spring’.

Then on that fateful day, February 11th, Mubarak was gone, or at least no longer President. I was overjoyed, thrilled! Filled with hope for a better future in Egypt, yet wary of the consequences of a military take over and a well organized Muslim Brother hood…

Since Mubarak’s resignation much has happened: a national referendum, a Parliamentary election, more clashes in Tahrir and Maspiro, a lot more civilian deaths and thousands of arrests. What was a moment of triumph for the young Egyptian revolutionaries started to look more like an ongoing battle for their freedom. Today, a year later, we know that this revolution is far from over.

After spending 4 years in Egypt, I left it with a heavy heart knowing that I will always remain connected to that place. Seeing the images of Egyptians fighting for their freedom from the same Tahrir I passed through on a daily basis made this revolution even more personal to me. I truly hope that the Egyptian people succeed in what they went out to accomplish, and because it has taken them years to arrive to this moment, something tells me they’re not about to back down any time soon.


Global day of rage for Syria

Today is the international day of solidarity with the people of Syria. It has been ten months since the Syrian people first started their revolt against the Syrian regime that has since killed thousands of its own people.

In support of the Syrian people and their fight for justice, a group of Palestinian activists and youth have published a statement (below). Having done research for a project focusing on citizen media in Syria, I had to watch hours of footage coming out of Syria since the start of the revolution. As a result, I have one thing to say: This horrifying bloodshed needs to end!

Palestinians for Syria

21/01/12 is the Global Day Of Rage For Syria

A peaceful revolution…a revolution against foreign intervention…a revolution against sectarianism and factions.This is the revolution of the Syrian people we know.

For ten months now the Syrian people have marched towards freedom and we have no doubt that they will achieve their liberation. For this reason we see it as a duty to warn them of the dangers of foreign intervention and to express our support for their peaceful revolution against sectarianism and factions.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched steadily towards freedom, despite the criminal oppression of Bashar al-Assad’s regime which uses weapons against its own people, instead of using them to liberate their occupied land, and despite the disagreements among their representatives whom the people gave trust in.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched towards freedom as martyr after martyr is sacrificed, which has only strengthened their resolve and steadfastness to continue their march.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched towards freedom as the world analyzes the meanings behind slogans raised in protests, and satellite channels have garnered more viewers with the increase in bloodshed and murders. The media sells to its viewers talks of a conspiracy or of a civil war, and many powers, sells us their support to freedom or democracy in the Middle East, when they never did. We are confident that these plots will fail and be crushed under the feet of the Syrian Arab People.

Ten months and we have avoided watching the disfigured bodies and the brave women who do not fear facing the live ammunition. Ten months and we chose which channel to hear from about the news of 30, 70, 100 martyrs of Syria, which made us ashamed from our miserable show of solidarity, as at the end of every day dozens of families lose their sons and daughters, with seemingly no one to share their pain with.

We, Palestinian activists and bloggers, on the Global Day of Rage for Syrian Revolution, stress our support for the brave revolutionary Syrians. We strongly reject manipulating the Palestinian cause as a cover under which the Syrian martyrs’ bodies are brushed under and stamped upon by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It is true we must think logically about the dynamics of the Syrian revolution, but we must put the overwrought analyses aside, because the cost is the blood of our Syrian brothers and sisters. We reiterate our support for the peaceful Syrian revolution and its rejection of foreign intervention amidst the threats of sectarianism, as without our solidarity and faith we have no right in theorizing and preaching to the Syrians who are being murdered one after the other.

Goodbye 2011

It’s been one exciting year, packed with surprises! Starting with the Arab Revolutions to Occupy Wall Street and what I would consider as the year of Citizen Journalism.
As someone who studies digital media, there has been a lot to follow, from Anonymous, to the online activists in the Arab World, the hype around Google+ and how the mobile phone finally took center stage this past year.
Here’s hoping that the next year will bring a better future for the Arab world, and for Palestine. I also look forward to see how social media and new media is going develop in the coming year.
Happy New Year!

48 hours… well almost!

So my Facebook experiment almost made it to 48 hours, before I succumbed to my need for news.. during the initial 24 hours, I had typed in the Facebook URL twice before I stopped myself. But by the second day, I just couldn’t do it anymore, I felt disconnected, I needed my news. I re-activated my account..

As a news junkie, I came to realize that I’ve come to rely on Facebook for many things, I got some updates and links to interesting news articles, that I would’ve otherwise not read. Even updates about clashes in the West Bank, Wall St. and on a Football pitch in Florida became part of my life, I have become addicted. That is of course disregarding the whole fact that I’m linked to many of my friends through Facebook, I get constant updates on their life, wedding photos, baby photos and more. Basically it’s become an easy and perhaps lazy way to stay in touch, and for that I’m somewhat grateful.

Eventually, like any addiction I can probably overcome it, but with the help of Facebook I have created a social world is difficult to disconnect from. I feel social when I’m on Facebook, even though it’s a virtual connection, then again when I’m miles away from my friends, virtual is all I have.



Bloggers unite once again!

Although I’m still frustrated at the Tunisian Government’s decision to deny Palestinian bloggers entry visas,  I can’t help but feel a sense of elation and connection with the great bloggers meeting in Tunisia this week. Their continuous tweets, reactions and (awaiting) their statement on the matter, has shown us, the Palestinian bloggers, that we are all part of one community. Thank you once again for your support and hopefully we will meet next year in Arab Bloggers meeting 2012!

Photo courtesy of Irene, this is @redrazan from Syria supporting the Palestinian bloggers that got denied an entry visa.

Arab Bloggers conference and the visa issue

“All our visas have been denied” is what Lama Hourani (from Heinrich Boell) told me on the phone a few days ago, “but we’re working on it from Ramallah and there are people at the Ministry of Interior in Tunis working on it, I still have hope.” Yet, here I am on the first day of the conference, sitting in Ramallah, still hoping for this damned visa.

What’s the reason? well no one seems to know, the Ministry is blaming the Tunisian Consulate in Ramallah, while the Consulate is claiming that the decision is in the Ministry’s hand. We have yet to receive an official reason as to why the entire Palestinian delegation (with the exception of one blogger Sa’ed Karazon) got denied a visa. We’re taking one final shot at this, and hoping the Palestinian ambassador in Tunisia would be able to pressure the Mninistry to either give us an official reason to why we were denied, or grant us visas. I’m hoping we could at least attend the remaining 3 days of the conference, it would be an honor to meet such amazing people who have created change. Here’s hoping the Tunisian government would change their mind and grant us a visa!

The list of people who were supposed to go are: Asmaa’ Abdulmawjood (Alghoul), Ebaa Alburai, Mohammed Abu Sharkh, Majd Kayyal, Thameena Husary, Nisreen Mazzawi, Saleh Dawabshe, Khaled Sharqawi, Bashar Lubbad and me (Dalia Othman)

Just got an update this afternoon from the Ministry of Interior. They claim that because the conference and the organization Nawaat that sent us the invitation are both unlicensed they can’t issue visas for us Palestinians. Correct me if i’m wrong, but wouldn’t that mean that they deny an entry visa to everyone else who’s going to the conference?

A cover up, a media empire and our privacy

For the past couple of days the UK has been preoccupied with one major story, and no, it’s not the Royal’s couple official visit to North America. The recent revelation by The Guardian exposing how News of the World (NoW) hacked into several phone lines, including those of the 7/7 bombings victims and even the Royal Protection has rocked the public and politicians alike. Additionally, Rupert Murdoch’s ownership of NoW has put his BskyB takeover bid at risk, if not killed his chances completely. Although I am diverging from my point here, it is important to note that Murdoch’s takeover of BskyB has created controversy in itself. Many media outlets have expressed their concern over the takeover claiming it would give Murdoch a monopoly over British media. Which in itself is a matter that needs much study and discussion, significantly due to the status of media corporations today.

Nevertheless, the hacking story and Murdoch’s bid have taken front page and this story will not be going anywhere anytime soon with new information being released on a daily basis. The reason why I am writing this post is not to talk about how one tabloid paper managed to breach the privacy of many victims, or the ethics behind it, or even to discuss the future, or lack of future, of the BskyB bid. I’m taking the opportunity here to ask a few questions that the media has so far failed to approach, yet I believe are crucial,  some of which include “the role of media”, “privacy”, “legislation” and even the “Wikileaks” debate.

While mainstream media has focused their energy on the immediate effects of the ‘scandal’, I am questioning what the ultimate effects of breaching the public’s privacy on not only future legislation concerning media’s investigative role, but also how far will media go to retrieve information. What I’m simply asking here: will this incident give politicians the power to create legislation that would curtail the media’s role as the watch dog or the fourth estate? Additionally, will this incident give the media the prerogative to further breach the privacy of its audience?

Now, this question or idea might be a little far fetched, but how will this play into what Wikileaks and Julian Assange have been doing for years, (granted Wikileaks have mainly targeted governments) Although, it seems that hacking is the common theme here, I’m wondering if it’s the only common theme between the incidents.In the end, will media agencies resort to hacking, and as many view it, criminal actions to get their scoop?

My only answer to these questions at the moment is: time will tell.