Bloggers report on strike in Egypt

April 8, 2008

On April 6th, protests took place in Egypt against the rising costs of basic foods. There are English-language reports in the International Herald Tribune and on Reuters, among other places. Egyptian security forces brutally suppressed these demonstrations; according to international journalist reports, anywhere from 200 (IHT) to 500 protesters (Bloomberg) have been arrested.

AFP reports that the Egyptian security forces have arrested two bloggers who wrote about the protest and its suppression, as well as the organizer of the Facebook group that has called for another strike in May. AFP argues that this symbolizes the rising political power of bloggers in Egypt (something that I’ve already commented on at Khaldoun and Culture Matters).

To that end, I thought I’d provide links to a few blogs where the fallout from the strike is being described. In Arabic, there is tadamonmasr, which reports that at least 4 have been killed in Mahalla al-Kubra (a poor neighborhood that was a center of protest), including a 15-year old boy shot in the head by police. Tadamonmasr compares the actions of the Egyptian security forces to the Zionist state’s attacks on Palestinian youths, and describes the murdered protesters as “martyrs.” Also in Arabic is an anonymous blog site devoted specifically to the 6 April Strike with extensive pictures and descriptions of the protest. For those of you who don’t read Arabic, Sunbula has been translating some of the Arabic-language blog postings on KABOBfest.

I’ll post more links as I come across them.

– L.L. Wynn

Update 9 April 2008: See al-Jazeera for more English-language coverage, and Egyptian blogger Zeinobia reviews the media coverage of the strike in the Egyptian press.

Comments policy on Khaldoun

April 1, 2008

As some of you may have noticed, the comments were flying fast and furious over a couple of recent postings. When they started turning racist, we had to stop comments for a few days and think carefully about the blog’s comments policy. I met with Noah, Maryam, and Jumana and we struggled over the question: how do we balance our desire to see ideas shared freely without letting this become a forum for people to vent offensive points of view?

Most of the blog contributors are also on the staff at Macquarie University, and our backgrounds as academics shapes our ideas about how dialog should take place and gives us responsibilities as public intellectuals. Anyone who has sat in on any of our classes knows that we love a fierce debate, but we have little tolerance for those who express themselves in offensive and simplistic ways. When we moderate discussions in our classes or when we give written assignments, we continually press our students to think through their arguments thoughtfully, express them courteously, and provide references to back up their assertions. We hope that we can ask for the same high standard from participants on this blog.

With that in mind, the following is our comments policy at Khaldoun, drafted by Noah and endorsed by all of us:

Khaldoun is a site that places scholarly and informed perspectives into the public realm to promote understanding, tolerance and ultimate peace in the Middle East. Racist and discriminatory remarks are not acceptable. Comments that are deemed racist, discriminatory and vilify on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexuality or sexual orientation will be removed and the responsible party barred from commenting on this blog. Free speech comes with obligations of human decency and comments must meet the basic expectations of a rational, tolerant and inclusive society. We value your comments and will only censor material that is overtly racist and offends on the basis of religion, race, gender, sexuality and sexual orientation, and we will not cease to post political views that differ from those held by the individual contributors. Thank you for being a part of Khaldoun and contributing to the wider understanding of the Middle East.

– Lisa, Noah, Jumana, and Maryam

A 3-year history of Egyptian blogging

February 22, 2008

Veteran Egyptian blogger Tarek Amr has reached his 3-year anniversary of blogging and stops to reflect on the recent history of the Egyptian blogosphere.  It’s an excellent introduction to some of the more popular Egyptian bloggers in both English and Arabic.  He talks about bloggers’ involvement in the pro-democracy movement Kifaya and tells us who was the first to be jailed for blogging (Abdul Karim Amer).  He also points to the religious blogging scene as well as the more Western-oriented bloggers and notes the different audience bases.

— L.L. Wynn