The Fight for Internet Freedom and Accesibility

It is astonishing to me how easily people fighting for simple online freedom and accessibility can be held captive and punished for doing so. After reading the pieces I have come to realize that there are many talented scholars and organizational groups who have been working together to ensure that there is an online outlet which can help activists speak out, build their own ideas and become more knowledgeable and rounded human beings.

Bassel Khartabil’s story was an example of one of these scholars who have pushed for a broader border on virtual world access. In the ‘Captured in the line of duty’ section of The Guardian’s online newspaper on Khartabil’s accomplishments, captivity, whereabouts and some information on the Creative Commons, we read about Khartabil’s success in introducing his encoded formulation that worked to make the Firefox open-source web browser available in the arabic language.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 11.47.05 PMNot only was Bassel Khartabil’s work brilliant but it lead to making the Creative Common’s organization more widely known, as he gained recognition from several other respectable sources and projects. The piece continues with explaining that Khartabil was able to provide input for a developing project called New Palmyra Project.

The continuation of Khartabil’s work, even while being in custody, shows his integrity and determination to help expand the online world in his country, and work towards making the internet a free source for all. The fact that Khartabil took the risk to work towards a meaningful cause even after being behind bars and captured, exemplifies a true heroic and brave figure, because it is a demonstration of someone who has fought for his beliefs, even in extremely dangerous situations.

It is heartbreaking to see that someone so talented, self driven, be incarcerated and killed, as speculations have suggested, since he has not been seen or heard of for quite some time now. The article finishes off with a memorable statement. It mentions that there needs to be more people in the society such as Bassel Khartabi, who are willing to fight for change. In my opinion, I completely agree with the statement that was made at the end of the piece. Although, scholars and activists should take extra precautions regarding their work, the world will not change without those who are willing to put themselves at risk to be the change they want to see in the world. People, such as Bassel Khartabi, are the ones who will strive, die and provide the change this world needs. With the brains, intelligence, and good hearted actions of these people it is safe to say the world may be changing, and internet accessibility as well as the right to speak up and find your own voice, in countries which prohibit that, may be expanding.

The text was inspiring, yet a bit scary. Being punished for working hard on something you believe in, expanding and creating access to more sources for the people all over the world, seems unfair to me. However, seeing someone follow their beliefs despite the possible consequences is very inspiring, and makes you realize how anyone with the will can help make a change in this world.

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The Fight for Internet Freedom and Accesibility

After Tahrir Conference

After I left the Tahir conference, I felt as if I had stepped into a new world. The world I have heard of many times but never really got to hear about it first hand. I was so moved by all the of powerful energy I felt projected throughout the room, by people who had a close relationship to Egypt or lived there at some point. There was pride, pain, hope, and memories spoken by people in the conference. I was given the privilege to attend two panels one titled, Morbid Symptoms of Rule:the Invincible State, the Vulnerable State and another titled Bodies and Spaces: Moral Panics, Revolution, and Counterrevolution. 

My favorite speakers from the first panel I listened to was Lina Attalah and Omar Robert Hamiltons. Lina really emphasized on how the Regime and State were different and if they could truly be seen as separate. Separate meaning if you could rule the state without owning it or own the state without ruling it. She also mentioned how Muslim Brothers failed to be guardians of the State. Omar Robert focused more on the economic aspect within Egypt. He brings up the importance the oil trade between Italy and Egypt and how it helped sustain their economy. This trade enabled the use of being able to make crude, petroleum, and refined oils. Robert also mentions how it was not just Italy that traded resources with them but Israel had a great influence as throughout many years. Recently there was an oil discovery in Egypt with the net cost of around 50 billion euro dollars which can help Egypt come to a stable state. The talks were both very intricate and detailed within the Regime and knowing the economical stance Egypt is in.

The second panel I heard from was Yahia Mohammad and Magda Boutrous both spoke about different issues in Egypt. Yahia Mohammad talked about queerness, skin color, and ethnicity affected him in Egypt. He addresses how difficult it is for him to be able to identify where people wanted him to belong. Mohammad was an activist in the queer movement and brought about issues in the political field. Even though these ethnicity and queer issues were an ongoing problem it was hard to talk about them because there were bigger issues like the revolution with the State. A great example he uses to explain his speech was, “Do I define identity? or Does identity define me?” This was a continuous thought he had and something that really got me thinking as well. Magda Boutrous was by far one of the most interesting and deep talks I heard from the two panels. She explains the research field study she was conducting which he ultimately decided to stop doing. Boutrous talks about her personal experience working in an physically and mentally draining environment with people who are prisoners. She wanted to get a firsthand experience and comments from people who were in captivity and know what lead them to be prisoners. People explained doing nothing, some defied the rules, and others were activists. The main reason which lead her to stop her field study was really moving and she was able to explain to others that it is okay to stop doing a research study when it is putting you messing with your sanity.

After Tahrir Conference