A virtual space for Arabs
Obviously the Middle East is going through some tumultuous changes. This has affected every person who has any connection with the region on any level. For some it has meant leaving town, for others, it has meant not wanting to go back. But what has happened for all, including those who do not have a relationship with the region, is that something has cracked, a certain consciousness has opened. In Egypt, the barrier of fear and silence was broken down, people united with their goal; while in Bahrain, this fear still stands against the cry for social development. Although consciousness is now shifting in the Arab world, it only brings to light the extent at which people have taken self-censorship as second nature and the inability to question regimes for granted.
Recently, I’ve been introduced to a collective blog/discussion forum (similar to this one, I suppose) that stands to open up this very point even more. Attempting to counter the stifled ability to express, Arabs.com interestingly points out that we must admit that we are ‘oppressed’ in order to actually combat that oppression. In his ‘message’, the founder of the website states his support for the freedom of choice and expression as well as the need for platforms without bias or guardianship.
As social/web media goes, this forum is being used as a tool to attempt to overcome that. But just as everything it is an experiment, as some of us have not overcome the fear. I, myself, have posted under a fake name in an attempt to dog attention of the “wrong” kind. I find this to be an interesting experiment, relying on bloggers and encouraging citizen journalists, it presents a public space that can be used in whatever way deemed appropriate by the user, but with a bottom line of encouraging a free consciousness. I find this to be a positive thing.
Arabs.com is having a event/tweet up (#arabstweetup) here in London on June 29. Anyone who wants to participate can contact them via twitter on @ARABSdotCOM.