DW-AKADEMIE invited Arab and German bloggers to Cairo in October 2010 to discuss freedom of expression and censorship. Three months later bloggers organized resistance to the Egyptian regime.
“I almost died three times during the uprising,” reports Egyptian blogger Eman Hashim. “Now that we have access to the Internet again in Egypt I’m trying to use my ‘electronic voice’ – my blog – as effectively as possible. I write about the missing activists, for example, and about corruption.” Eman Hashim took part in the 2010 Young Media Summit held in Cairo and organized by DW-AKADEMIE and the Deutschland-Zentrum Kairo. The conference focused on the dialogue between young Arab and German bloggers. Before former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime was overthrown, Eman Hashim used her blog to write about Egyptian politics and women’s rights. “The blogs in Egypt became really important after the government shut down all other ways of expressing one’s opinion.”
A study by the Arabic Network of Human Rights Information (ANHRI) confirms that Egypt has the most active blogging community in the Arab world. Mubarak’s regime had tried to intimidate bloggers through arrests and interrogation. Still, even during the Young Media Summit in October 2010, another participant – Egyptian blogger Tarek Amr – felt it was just a matter of time before the drive for freedom left the “virtual” world and sprung over to the “real” one. He was right. Today Amr says, “During the demonstrations the blogs reported about events that were neglected by the official media. At the same time the blogs and social networks were forums for exchanging ideas about planned campaigns. The Internet became a place where people were mobilized.”
Eman Hashim hopes that Egypt will become a freer country where people can express their opinions and fight for their rights. “The media have to become financially and politically independent. Access to the Internet has to be independent so that the government can’t shut down any online sites or blogs.” Despite many demands that remain open and her country’s uncertain future, blogger Hashim says the past several weeks have been the best in her life. “I’m enjoying the freedom we Egyptians have. We all connect with each other as if we’ve always known each other – and that’s because we’re free.”