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Letter to Om Khaled

Om Khaled,

My partner, my friend, my half, my all, my love, the mother of my child, my support in life. I MISS YOU I LOVE YOU.

The only reason I can bear being separated from you is your support.

I just got the photos, I'm confused about my feelings now but I'm mostly happy. It's so unfair that I can't be with you to comfort you, it's so unfair that I wait for you to get well and get back to comforting me. It is beyond unfair that I can't hold Khaled for hours the way I've held countless other babies, I gave so much love and attention to sons and daughters of friends and family. Yet I can't do the same to my own child.

I wonder how old will Khaled be when I finally get out of here, I wonder what else I will miss? His Sobo3? The first time he grips your fingers? The moment you realize he is focusing his eyes on you? Or is going to be even worse and I'll miss his first smile?

What does it feel to hold him? How does he smell? How does he sound when cries?

My son, our son, our little Khaled.

I showed the photos to everyone in the cell, they're genuinely happy for me but like everything in this cell it is all subdued, made me feel more alone and lonely.

I've been thinking a lot about our life in South Africa the bliss of just being together having an easy comfortable life, yet still doing good work. We used to comment a lot on how Egyptian youth only aspire for a home and a family and a job to support them. Turns out as usual al sha3b got it right, the day we can enjoy just being a family in Egypt while secure in the future, content in our comforts and fulfilled in our jobs is the day that revolution is complete.

Until then we'll make do by sticking together facing whatever life throws at us, knowing that as long as we are all one all is fine.

I miss you so much it hurts, I guess you know the feeling, I'm overwhelmed by how unfair it is, how meaningless it has become at this stage, but I know we are both in good hands, Khaled is blessed with the unconditional love of not just his parents but large extended families and hundreds of aunts and aunties, I hope he grows to appreciate it all.

Ephemeral immortality of two digital natives

written in 9th November 2011 for the digital natives workshop

it is 3am, I can't sleep. I've made the mistake of reading through a browser tab I had open but neglected for a while and suddenly all I feel is this all encompassing rage. my energy and enthusiasm for the digital natives workshop hits rock bottom.

Digital native Omar Khadr is all I can think about. a child soldier captured by the American invaders attacking an afghan village, he was subjected to torture and solitary confinement for 10 years, most of them without access to legal counsel and without trial. He has been tried under a special military court for war crimes. the layers of injustice are unbelievable, a child soldier is a victim regardless of his actions. but even if we disregard that the alleged war crime is fighting back invaders. and even if we ignore that how is it a war crime to fight soldiers? US wars now are not only unilateral but also one sided by law!? but none of this even scratches the surface of the whole story, the torture, the detention, the dehumanization... I can't go on just read the article

Omar is a digital native but there is more in common between us, he liked Tintin, batman and harry potter for instance. As proof of his danger to "civilized" people his resilient unbroken spirit was cited!!!

Now in a gathering of Africans with people who personally witnessed, lived through or lived in proximity if equally horrendous injustice why is the plight of this particular child soldier filling me with rage? is it because he is like me? a digital native? a Muslim? is it because his torturers are democratically elected and his torture chamber paid for by free tax payers many of them supportive of the abuse?

I frantically search my mind for inspiration for hope, the past two days I enjoyed telling my stories about fighting injustice from my context and experience. but today I realized my stories are all about defeats. none of them have a happy ending (though I usually ramble on until I run out of time and avoid offering an ending at all).

Today I told the story of another digital native, Khaled Said, a 28 years old Egyptian from Alexandria who was tortured to death by two policemen in the street in front of his neighbours. Egypt has a long dark history of torture and police brutality; a topic I'm unfortunately familiar with from family experiences, activism and just reading the news. For decades there was very little resistance to torture, only a handful of very dedicated activists tried to tackle the issue, most victims where silent. recently things have changed with more and more people confronting the issue (police brutality is also increasing), the shift has a variety of reasons but among them is the rise in the use of online social media for activism.

The details of the story are gory and irrelevant what is relevant is that Khaled changed everything. while we where slowly building momentum for an anti torture movement the story of Khaled for some reason filled many many many digital natives with rage and all of a sudden a facebook group and some viral messages (and a graphic post mortem photo) meant to inform people about what happened turned into spontaneous protest and action by thousands of young men and women (boys and girls really) in multiple cities across the country (and big critical mass in khaled's home town Alexandria).

why did Khaled of all the victims resonate? why did their rage instead of being frustrated and impotent like my rage today become a positive force? beats me, but turn into a force it did, with all the foolishness of a very young very inexperienced mob, with little leadership and through extremely messy processes the campaign continued for months. justice for khaled!

now this story did not end yet, the two officers who killed Khaled are standing in trial, but it is already a story of a defeat, for the prosecutor wouldn't charge them with murder or torture but with lesser charges of involuntary killing, the police is already intimidating the young activists and khaled's family. the best possible outcome is waaaay less than justice for khaled.

but I cling to the notion that something bigger than justice was already achieved. every potential victim who chose to take the risk of inviting torture by putting her body on the line despite never having any past experience protesting, organizing, or engaging in any form of political action (and probably even no prior interest in anything political) has liberated herself. she has confronted the worst they can throw at her and by her own choice and with the consent and support of the community. she has created with a mix of bits and blood a new reality even if just for herself and the few thousands that chose to get involved. she is free from the fear and free from the rage, not a bad deal when you are defeated eh?

but more importantly while the young activist cannot offer justice to khaled's family they offered what the elders call solidarity. solidarity like the keywords we discussed yesterday is one of those words that should mean something very profound but we've abused it so badly it hardly means anything at all. so let me share with you what solidarity they offered.

imagine yourself the mother of a no longer young handsome boy. he is 28 now in your eyes still a boy but to the world an adult, you look forward to seeing him build a life a family, you look forward to having grand children. and then he is taken away from you by two human avatars of pure evil, by the conscious actions of others, your son is murdered, tortured to death. and they won't even allow you a proper funeral or the truth let alone justice.

what can anyone offer this mother? what words do you console her with? how do you even muster the courage to look her in the eye?

well here is how, you bring a couple of thousands of your friends and you chant

افرحي يا أم الشهيد ... كلنا خالد سعيد

rejoice mother of the martyr for we are all your sons and daughters, we are all khaled said.

whenever any injustice happens we use this banal slogan "we are all ", how cheeky can these digital natives be? not only do they offer a cliche they even tell her rejoice? but that's why we need fools, they don't know how to behave appropriately, they offer themselves to her as siblings of her martyred son, they offer her son to her as a martyr and not a victim.

Updates from Egypt Jan 28

Will aggregate the updates we get from Egypt here, the recent on top:

4:55 a.m.

hey big websites why don't you publish graphs and reports of traffic from egypt, document the blackout #Jan25 or do we have to be china?

4:30 a.m.

great news, blackout not affecting morale in cairo, veteran activists from 60s and 70s giving advice on how to do things predigital #Jan25

نشطاء الستينات و السبعينات يعلمون الشباب كيفية التنسيق و التواصل بلا انترنت و هواتف محمولة، الثورة مستمرة #Jan25

عصام العريان و محمد مرسي ضمن 350 من معتقل من أعضاء الأخوان وفقا لمركز هشام مبارك للقانون #Jan25

to clarify internet and sms blac

about those bouncy bouncy checks

So here is what happened monday when I was detained for a few hours in Cairo airport.

The Short Version

nothing happened, someone made false criminal accusations about me, the case is in the court, I have good lawyers, we don't know details yet but highly unlikely it has anything to do with the regime and chances of me being convicted are very slim. nothing to see here except waste of tax payers money, valuable pro bono attorney time and 3 hours of my life.

that's all there is to it you don't need to read the long version.

The Very Long Version

we've been living and working in Pretoria, South Africa for a year now. back in February our passports where stolen. for incomprehensible bureaucratic reasons Egyptian embassies are no longer allowed to issue passports so we had to go back to Egypt just to get new passports.

Our friendly embassy gave us a temporary travel document, it is the same document they give to people being deported (illegal immigrants for instance). so we expected to have a rough time at Cairo airport. this is exacerbated by Egyptian security being paranoid about lost passports and treating it as a matter of national security.

so we had to spend 6 hours waiting at the airport for our papers to pass by several agencies and security checks by various police departments, among them the notorious state security responsible for handling political enemies of the state.

this is the "normal" procedure people who enter cairo airport without passports go through, being activists was not an issue, in fact we did not raise any flags at state security and we passed that step with boredom as the only threat.

the last step was a routine computer search for any outstanding arrest warrants or court orders and rulings against us. thanks to our new smart and connected e-government we have a central database for these things now, u go through that routine check if you are stopped by the police for any reason including passing a red traffic light. it is not unheard of for people to be surprised by cases against them that they knew nothing about yet appear to have being going on for years.

Manal passed this final check without raising any flags, but it turned out that in November 2009 I was sentenced in absentia for one year in prison in a case of cheque fraud. and so I was arrested.

some context before I explain what this is about.

a verdict is not really a verdict

حال الدنيا

you know something is right with the world when you watch football with a group spanning ten different nationalities yet everyone roots for turkey.

and you know something is fundamentally wrong with this world when Germany wins anyway :-(

remember Nigeria Vs. Italy 1994? remember how we almost believed.

NGOitis

had to sit through a most boring meeting suffering from all the ills of donor lead development. being optimistic I had my note taking application open and ready here is a glimpse of what my notes say

  • is the universal declaration of human rights relevant on any level that other than law
  • we operate on the assumption that the media monopoly will remain as is forever. the very reality of citizen journalism, lower costs of running satellite channels, new players in the global media market are not registered at all and no effort is spent on trying to imagine the future of the media landscape
  • the quality over quantity helix is one of those ideas that are never challanged, even though it is always promoted as a radical idea that goes contrary to common belief.

Free Monem - الحرية لمنعم

early morning sunday the 15th of April 2007 state security arrested Egyptian blogger Abdol Monem Mahmoud, Monem was on the run for two days after receiving news of special forces breaking into his home in Alexandria and intimidating his parents. he has been detained for 15 days under temporary custody while the prosecutor investigates his case, in practice the prosecutor is likely to renew his custody for weeks if not months without facing trial.

link.net blocks ikhwanweb.info

scroll down for english text

بعد اعتقال عبد المنعم محمود بلغني أنه موقع اخوان وب اللي كان محرره عبد المنعم اتحجب في مصر.

حاليا الحكومة المصرية معندهاش قانون صريح يسمح لها بحجب المواقع و بالتالي الحجب بيتم بتواطئ موفري خدمة الاتصال و غالبا بيكون عن طريق تسميم بيانات الdns الخاصة بالموقع. و دي حاجة بتتم عند كل موفر خدمة اتصال على حدة.

لأن أحيانا بسمع أخبار خاطئة عن حجب مواقع حاولت اتأكد بنفسي و جربت أشوف عنوان http://www.ikhwanweb.info بيشاور على ايه عند تشكيلة من موفري الخدمة، جربت راية و ياللا و تي اي داتا و نايل أن لاين و لينك دوت نت.

في كل اللي جربتهم لينك دوت نت الوحيدة اللي عاملة حجب للموقع

أظن كده يبقى المفروض ندين شركة لينك دوت نت، يا ريت كل المشتركين عندهم يتصلوا بالدعم التقني و يسألوا ليه ikhwanweb.info مش شغال و لو مطلعش الموضوع خطأ تقني و اتحل بسرعة يبقى نبدأ حملة ضدهم.

ده شرح مبسط كان كتبه عزبي زماااان لموضوع تسميم بيانات الdns للي مفهمش الكلام اللي فات

Monem arrest timeline

You might have heard about the arrest of Egyptian blogger Abdol Monem Mahmoud, since this particular story was being reported while it was happening some conflicting/confusing information got disseminated, this is my attempt to piece together the sequence of events.

if you spot any mistakes please post corrections. I can probably find out exact time that each of these events happened, but eh too lazy, the order is the important thing

  1. fri 13 feb - dawn : state security arrests several muslim brotherhood members
  2. Monem receives a phone call from his mother informing him that special forces raided their alexandria home and he is wanted
  3. fri 13 feb - early morning: Monem decides to turn himself in in order to spare his parents any hardships
  4. in preparation for his arrest monem sends emails and SMSs informing people he is about to turn himself in and posts a couple of posts on his blog that can be used as a seed for a campaign
  5. fri 13 feb - morning: not able to reach Monem bloggers assume he already turned himself in and got arrested
  6. Monem contacts his lawyers who tell him to wait until they find out more details
  7. fri 13 feb - noon: lawyers find out there is no legal arrest warrant and advice monem not to turn himself in
  8. fri 13 feb - afternoon: news that Monem is still free and on the run reaches the blogosphere
  9. Monem hears his father's health is deteriorating and he needs to be hospitalized, monem is now confused and starts contemplating hiding for a longish period
  10. fri 13 feb - evening: Monem shoots two videos, one about his father's health that gets posted on youtube (is this the first time a wanted political prisoner on the run posts videos on youtube? I'm sure state security appreciated this touch), the other is an interview with Al Hewar TV (his current employer)
  11. sun 15 - dawn: Monem judging that since there are no legal arrest warrants he is technically allowed to travel and decides to try and leave the country on a pre-shceduled business trip
  12. Monem passes passport control and boards the plane but gets arrested before plane takes off
  13. sun 15 - afternoon: hours later Monem shows up in front of shobra prosecutor is charged with silly charges that can put him in jail for a very long time, Monem will spend 15 days in custody then appear before the prosecutor again, prosecutor will most probably send him back to jail when th 15 days are over. this can go on for 6 months (enough time to cook up a good anti-terrorism law?). his arrest is now legal (or as legal as it gets in the land of the pharaohs)
  14. mon 16: Link.net blocks ikhwanweb.info website
  15. wed 18: Monem's father hospitalized and in intensive care

U left me on Pause

Every time u travel without me, I know that I'll have plenty of free time.. I can do all the delayed mashaweer, visits and tasks.. I start planning my busy schedule and write notes with events, calls, dates.. spend a lot of time trying to fit all these things in the few days u r not here..

And as soon as u leave, I just lose interest in doing anything, in going out, attending meetings or concerts, shopping, watching movies, ..

Even afraid of seeing friends.. I think I'll feel more lonely when doing the things we do together without u.

Eid a festival of sexual harassment

Sexual harrasement of women in public spaces has been discussed several times before in the Egyptian blogosphere, everybody knows it's prevalent but denial flows like a river in Egypt, any woman dares open the topic has to face an avalanche of abuse on anonymous comments sometimes even from fellow bloggers. blaming the victims is the most common response but sometimes they even deny it happens at all, with the abuse also comes more accounts and stories of how it's like to be female in urban Egypt.

Last tuesday was the first day of Eid El Fitr the streets are typically full of people celebrating and enjoying their time, downtown Cairo is full of cinemas and Eid is the main cinema season, this year Malek, Wael Abbas, Mohammed Sharkawy, Ma3t, GemyHood and Radwa Osama witnessed a mob attacking and sexually harassing women in downtown cairo, their reports sparked heated discussions on the blogosphere, with no shortage of theories everything was blamed at one point or another as being responsible, music videos, sheikhs, israel, drugs, mubarak, class dynamics, you name it.

One topic that always pops out when discussing sexual harassment is the veil since the veil is sometimes promoted as a way to protect women from sexual harassment, yet it's as common to hear complains from veiled women as from unveiled ones, the molesters do not differentiate they attack anything that might be female.

This time the question of policing was brought to the front, downtown Cairo is where most political protests happen it's common to see thousands upong thousands of police officers and anti riot soldiers attacking a few hundred (and sometimes a dozen) protesters yet on a day like the first day of el Eid they failed to show up and protect the women.

As with any interesting discussion it was mostly in Arabic, but we had a few English posts on the topic.

3arabawy wrote a short post focusing on the role (or lack of) of police. Mechanical crowds did a great job of trying to summarize and dissect all the eyewitness accounts and some of the discussions, a must read. Zenobia searches for a reason and Tarek offers an explanation based on identity and culture while chris finds it hard to believe. Hope links the incident with Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali's sermon that offered the metaphor of women as uncovered meat and men as hungry alley cats.

On Being a blogger

written for the APC blog

Nothing drives home the fact that you are a geek more than realizing you feel more comfortable talking to the intellectual property lawyer than to all these perfectly normal human journalists.

Yeah I got stuck in this media conference and it's like it's designed to intimidate me, from the selfish people who won't give you a ride from the airport to the formal functions.

But the worst part is explaining why you are here: "Erm, you see, I'm a blogger!".

What the hell does that mean? it's not a job, it's not an identity, and it shouldn't be treated as something soooo exciting.

I do have a blog (a much overrated one at that). It has become an important part of my life, but so is email. I don't walk around calling myself an emailer do I? And I don't get invited to conferences just because I send a lot of emails.

Al Jazeera in Africa

written for the APC blog

What do you think of Al Jazeera

On the second day of the Highway Africa conference they did a short "Hot Seat" exercise, they picked 4 journalists from different parts of the continent (no one from the north though) and asked them a bunch of questions about the state of African media.

One of the questions was "What do you think of Al Jazeera?"

Now this was a surprising question but in my opinion it was a very smart one, first it was a good test of how connected African media practitioners are with other places in the world. It seems that many didn't even know what Al Jazeera was.

But what interested me was to find out whether African journalists have some perception or opinion about Al Jazeera based on views

My Tribe

every time I visit an African country I find myself asking people quite rudely about their ethnic and tribal backgrounds (including the whites). being in a place where people know so much about their immediate history is fascinating, compared to Egypt where one might know loads of things about our ancient history but won't even remember where one's grandfather came from (of course this being Egypt nothing is uniform, many do know about their family trees and tribal backgrounds and all).

Now young arabs are supposed to have an identitiy crisis, we are supposed to spend the nights sweating over post modernist exestential question of belonging or not and the mere fact that we enjoy holy, boly and cairo wood at the same time is supposed to be very significant (what with haifa wahby being shiaa and nancy being

/me 5th columnist?!!

I'll probably loose a couple of friends because of this, anyways I wrote a small piece for Ikhwan Wen here

أبشروا الهيئة الحزبية العليا للتدوين (الممولة سرا من قبل جماعة تلاتين فبراير) توغلت و أنتشرت و بدأت تخترق جماعة الأخوان المسلمين.

و خليكوا فاكرين، الأول القاهرة و بعدين تل أبيب.

local copy

ألف تحية للأخوان ... ألف تحية للأخوان ... in solidarity with the brotherhood

أناديكم.. أشد على أياديكم
وأبوس الأرض تحت نعالكم
وأقول أفديكم


وأهديكم ضيا عيني
ودفئ القلب أعطيكم
فمأساتي التي أحيا
نصيبي من مآسيكم

Who would have thought being released would be more horrific than being detained? the 14 hours I spent in Omraneya police station as part of my release process where definitely the worst hours of my life. one cell, over 700 detainees, most of them armed with switchblades and similar tools, most of them on drugs, more than half of them with long criminal records. I spent 8 hours standing in one spot, fighting with some of the most dangerous criminals in the district just to retain that little spot that could barely fit my feet.

I tried to force my mind to focus on happy positive thoughts, thoughts of loved ones did not help they ended up in feelings of betrayal (how could they abandon me like this for the whole night, they could have visited me and pressured the police officers or at least gave me money to buy my safety with). and then I remembered the ikhwan (muslim brotherhood) youth I met in the state security prosecutor cell last Tuesday.

rationally speaking it makes sense to try and cooperate with the muslim brotherhood, but knowing your politics is not the same as personal human experience.

Alaa blogs: What if Hosni dies while I'm in jail?

We've been playing with this question for a while now, mostly as a joke, but sometimes an irrational fear grips me.

He is old and senile enough, and i'm sure millions are actively praying for his sudden death.

Normally I'd be happy, his death is no solution for Egypt but it's bound to shake things up and spark an interesting sequences of events.

But now that I'm in jail it's a scary thought. It would take no less than 3 months for the dust to settle and who knows what will be the result of this power struggle. Most likely no one but immediate family will remember us until it is over.

In my mind most people will continue living their lives normally. The huge bureaucracy will chug along just fine, but all security organs will be paralyzed.

In my mind no officer will wake up the next day and head for his post. Which means prison will be abandoned.

Alaa got a 3rd 15 days

We spent the whole day today in front of the state security prosecution office.

Asmaa, Ahmed Abdel Ghafar and Ahmed Abdel Gawad got released...

Alaa, Rasha and Nada got a renewal of another 15 days (they have already spent 30 days in prison)

Renewing them another 15 days could go on forever.

yesterday I didnt know what I'll do if Alaa doesnt get released...

I will go cook for tomorrow's visit

Alaa blogs: after 17 days in jail

note: this blogpost was written a long time ago (almost a week..it's 24 days now since Alaa was arrested) but it is my fault not to publish it directly..I'm having trouble doing things on time, so I think Alaa's feelings about getting out in a few days has changed, especially after what happened to Sharkawy...Manal


It's been 17 days already and I still find it difficult to write about jail.

Now that i'm confident I'll be out in a few days I don't feel that bad. but still I heard and read many tales of prison.

Alaa blogging from his Prison

Today it hit me, I am really in prison. I'm not sure how I feel. I thought I was OK but I took forever to wake up. The way fellow prisoners look at me tells me I do not feel well but I can't really feel it.

I'd say prison is not like I expected, but I had no expectations. No images, not even fears, nothing. Guess it will take time. I expect to spend no less than a month here. I'm sure that's enough time to see all the ugly sides of prison, to be genuinely depressed.

I'm in a good cell I suppose. Only one of us with me, Karim Reda, a young Ghad member with no experience.

Mubarak visits Euorpe

It was announced in Cairo on Thursday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will hold a European tour which will cover Italy, Germany and France, starting Monday 17 May and lasting for four days.

This visit will take place while more than 188 Egyptian activists (Islamists, Socialist, Liberals, and Nasserites) have been arrested the Past two weeks for their Support for an Independent Judiciary and Against the extension of Emergency Law. As they remain in custody under inhumane conditions with more than 37 of them on hunger strike...this is a Call on Activists of all affiliation to Protest Against Mubarak's visit to their country

Show Your solidarity with democracy activists in Egypt and Demonstrate in Front of the Egyptian Embassies in FRANCE, ITALY and GERMANY

Alaa detained for 15 days

Alaa and the rest of the group that was kidnapped yesterday, will be detained for 15 days. They didnt go directly to the prison as we thought, but spent the night at the Khalifa's police station and are supposed to be transferred to the prisons now. The 3 women will go to El Qanater prison, as Tora prison where the rest of the 40 detainees are held has no section for women, and the men are supposed to join the rest and go to Tora prison, but some think that they will also taken to El Qanater prison (which has sections for both men and women).

They renewed 15 more days to the detainees of 24th of April, today. They are not releasing them anytime soon.

Plz help spread the word, you can find photos for Alaa here

live from the sit in - rerun

moblogging the sit in

this is a trascript of the SMSs I sent mostafa so he would forward to his blog, the system was quite flacky, mostafa is not an efficient relay and we ran out of credit in the middle, two posts are missing, hope mostafa still has them on his phone. we need to investigate a better solution, if you want to read them in normal blog style check mostafa's blog, if you want to read them in proper order read below

photos

18ish

Dispatch arived in square security keeping a distance around 50 protesters already security turned off the lights

19ish

we hanged a huge flag of egypt distributed 1000+ around 200 protesters chanting place sprinkled with flags and posters engaging audience people know nothing about the judges demands managed to stop the gardener before the place gets soaked

20ish

Graffiti on the street we marched around the square. Singing i am woried people will tire themselves quickly this way. Ebles joined the sit in and marched with us next time he writes call him mosaqaf beta3 west el balad

21ish

Street children having a blast playing with us trying to explain what we are protesting about

Firebrand

The Firebrand is another 600 pages novel by one of my favourite writers Marion Zimmer Bradley. As in The Mists of Avalon the story of King Arthur is told with a different perspective, Firebrand tells the story of Troy and the Trojan Wars with a twist, giving more space to the female characters. It tells us how the old religion of worshipping the goddesses and the days were Queens ruled the cities and Amazon warriors lived, away from and without men meeting them only in mating seasons, declines in favor of worshipping the new Gods, and cities being ruled by kings where women's role was to stick to the women's quarters, cook, weave and breed the king many sons.

the great dane and the 12 cartoons

I'm trying hard not to fall for the current meme and write about the infamous 12 cartoons of prophet Mohammed.

scroll down for the cartoons themselves and some discussion on what they mean, and btw they're not all bad.

instead I'd like to share with you what my friends Tomas Krag said about the whole fiasco in a couple of emails.

At Africa Source II Tomas used to joke about Danish society his pitch was that Denmark is a fairy tale land with no real industry and their only important export was the song Barby Girl, this lead to him writing the international smash hit Access Girl, while reading about the boycott movement the only thing I could think of was WOW we found products to boycott??

First email

in which Tomas expresses his opinion on how every one involved is stupid

Flame Wars: A Brief History of Blogging in Iran

My first published article, and the first time to work with an editor is a review of Nasrin Alavi's We Are Iran, a book about Iran's huge blogosphere.

the article got published in Bidoun an English language magazine about arts in the Middle East.

You can read the Article here

After going through 4 editors the final version has nothing to do with my original draft, didn't feel great but all the edits did make sense, let's just say blogging is much more fun but the published article thing pays better :-)

if anyone is interested here is a copy of the first draft, similar to what you typically see on this blog since I never edit or review my posts

Marion Zimmer Bradley

I have just finished a book called The colors of space, it's a light Science fiction book by one of my favorite writers: Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Marion Zimmer Bradley is a fantasy and science fiction writer, although The colors of space is the first science fiction book I read by her, I read many of her fantasy novels of "the Avalon" series, starting with the 1000 pages novel The mists of Avalon (which tells the story of King Arthur from a feminist perspective focusing more on the Priestesses and druids point of view and the celtic culture and religion), and falling in love with it, then following it with 3 of the 4 novels that happen in the same era but are before the story of king Arthur, and with the same perspective.

Police stops us for walking with opened laptops in garden city

On our way from Shepherd hotel, to the egyptian initiative for personal rights to continue with the second day of the arab source meeting, we had to pass by the occupied zones, i.e the streets around the british and american embassies, in garden city. Most of us are geeks, therefore carrying our laptops, but we had an evil syrian spy who was walking with his laptop opened, obviously he was trying to guide a missile towards the british embassy. But luckly our brave egyptian state security forces were able to stop him.

I'm not kidding, the state security forces stopped Anas Taweela, in front of the british embassy because he was walking with his laptop open. Alaa and another syrian colleague are with him now, and a lawyer from Hisham Mubarak law center is on his way to them.

married couples who trust each other are not welcome in spain

yeah you got that right.

me and manal are going to barcelona for a seminar (we'll be talking about our blog btw), today they gave me the visa but refused to give manal one.

the reason?

well you see we only got one bank account, and it happens to be in my name. Manal has a 'tawkil', her signature is registered in the bank database and she can deposit and withdraw money 3adi ya3ni. since we spend most of our time together we got one credit card that sometimes happens to reside in my pocket and sometimes in manal's handbag.

for some reason that is not good enough for embassy, why is it anyone's business how me and manal manage our money is beyond me.

is it just plain stupidity? is it cultural imperialism? or maybe they're just trying to liberate poor Manal who cannot realize her full potential without being fiscally independent or something.

How popular is this blog part II

we started this blog on 20th of march 2004, since then we moved it from server to server 7 times, the resources required for the aggregator and hosting platform are not trivial and maintaining the whole thing has been a tough, time consuming and expensive job.

now we are running on a dedicated server (an old one true, but still we can't go higher than that), which means we are staying here for a year at least.

and finally after a whole year of tweaking I think I'm approaching a stable setup, the new aggregator code performs much better and things are stable now.

in the past few months the load was so high we could never serve everyone who wanted to visit the website, it was always down or too slow on rush hours, now we sometimes see 600 visitors on a single hour.

what this means we won't be able to measure the true popularity of this website until the end of december when a month has passed with the new setup.

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