Bloggers, Freedom of Expression
Bloggers, Freedom of Expression
Tuesday, April 24,2007 06:56
By Salama Ahmad Salama*
Egyptian bloggers are hunted and detained in a way that violates the key right of freedom of expression. I am very much skeptical that what is posted on these weblogs is considered a crime, because their content is so much the same as what is published in opposition newspapers including hot comments and topics about politics and religion. Bloggers express their views with full freedom in a space that attracts the attention of only a limited category. These weblogs are anyway a free expression of the suppressed capacities of the youth; they should better give vent to these suppressed capacities in this way instead of carrying out underground destructive activities which have spread in the Arab societies.‏
Detaining bloggers and sending them to trial have recently recurred, like the prison sentence against blogger Karim Solaiman who was charged of showing contempt to religion. There is also another case that will be heard by courts; it is a lawsuit filed by a judge from Alexandria who demands blocking 25 human rights web sites and weblogs.‏
It is taken for granted that Arab media haven"t managed to contain the youth attitudes and views, even in those interactive shows that choose some youth faces to bestow a a fa├žade of giving the youth the chance to participate in interviews and discussions; however, their role is only a decor for applauding .‏
The Internet invaded millions of houses all over the Arab world, and it opened the door for a new arena of capabilities and knowledge, giving people the full freedom to discuss and talk about topics other than those imposed on them. It is natural that authorities in undemocratic societies try to impose a supervision on the World Wide Web, but the ability to escape supervision on the Internet made such supervisory methods useless; if the police blocks a weblog, the blogger establishes another weblog!!‏
The mushroom spread of the weblogs stirred silent voices or the silent majority, that governments and the public opinion polls failed to reach or measures their effect. This silent majority of youth in particular does not only its voice to be heard, it wants also to participate in making changes and to have an impact; it can no longer remain silent in front of the media"s lies and fallacies.‏
Although the blogosphere was restricted at the beginning to Liberal elements, they have been recently joined by blogger by politically and religiously conservative trends, triggering E wars between both sides. However, the blogosphere may be seen as a suitable environment for initiating dialogue between peoples and governments and may a place for giving vent to many suppressed oppositions.‏
So, the security and supervisory service should turn their efforts into benefiting from these the blogosphers, and to stop hunting bloggers and harassing them. These weblogs can give right indications for analyzing the public opinion and its trends specially in sensitive and key issues. These blogs may teach leaders and rulers entrenched in the Ivory towers of their offices to be more open to criticism and be tolerant in disagreements; in conclusion, these bloggers are not members in underground organizations, and they are not posting their weblogs in return for money; they are defending their opinions,  convictions and prosperity of their peoples.‏
*One of the most well known journalist in Egypt; a columnist in the daily Al-Ahram newspaper